I work in the United States and I'm considering giving notice with my current employer shortly before the year-end holidays.

Would my customary 2-week notice include or exclude holidays like Christmas?

I'm not asking in terms of salary pay-out (though that's an interesting question in its own right). Here I'm simply asking whether "two weeks" means "two weeks, regardless of whether the office is closed due to e.g. Christmas" or "two weeks, only counting days that I actually show up for work."

  • who's downvoting this? It's an entirely apropos question.
    – dwoz
    Nov 16, 2015 at 0:22

3 Answers 3


Firstly, bear in mind that over the last 20 years the "social contract" between employer and employee has been dramatically modified, particularly with respect to the "at will" clauses that employers use in defining their(and your) obligations. Basically that means that 2 week notice is indeed ONLY a courtesy, because employers have themselves disclaimed the notion that they owe you anything.

As a pragmatic matter though, you might want to extend them the courtesy, if it doesn't create any difficulties for you. One thing to consider: if you don't work any days past the Christmas holiday, you likely won't get paid for the holiday. Check your employer's holiday/time off policy to see if they have anything written about this. It's not unlikely that they will receive your notice, and then say, "ok, very good, thank you...let's make December 23 your last day.

Also, do remember that they MAY BE (depending on which state) required by law to pay your accrued vacation time. They may just cut a check for the accrued time, OR they might require you to take the time in lieu of some of your notice.

The best answer probably is to go to your manager, and say "I'm giving my notice. Two weeks brings us to the end of Dec. What makes the most sense for you, to wrap up on 31 Dec, or do you need a few days past that?

Another consideration: Many HR departments like to cut you off before you work any days into the new month...because often their obligation to pay health insurance and other insurance benefits accrues on the first of the month, regardless of you only working one or two days into the month.

  • "Also, do remember that they are required by law to pay your accrued vacation time." as far as I know, that depends on the state.
    – YviDe
    Nov 15, 2015 at 19:33
  • @YviDe No they are not required to pay accrued vacation time. In most states a vacation day has no cash equivalent unless it is explicitly expressed in the employment contract.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 15, 2015 at 20:36
  • good catch! I've never worked in a state that didn't have to pay accrued vacation...and assumed it was federal law. It isn't! I've edited my answer to reflect this.
    – dwoz
    Nov 15, 2015 at 21:56
  • @dwoz You still miss. If I turn in an 10 day notice and I have 15 days vacation they are not required to let me change my notice.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 15, 2015 at 22:08
  • I work in MA (though the company is HQed in Ohio). MA law itself seems to indicate they must pay out vacation time. Nov 16, 2015 at 15:53

The "customary 2 weeks" is to give your employer sufficient time to transition your duties and responsibilities to other employees, if needed. It also allows time to adjust other employee's schedules to compensate for the change.

This rule exists in order to establish a "polite" transition duration for employees that may short-sighted in their career or inexperienced and not realize that quitting impacts an employer that they may wish to maintain a relationship with in the future, even if that seems unnecessary or unlikely at the time of resignation. There are times and circumstances where the 2 weeks are not applicable, where either more time or less is customary.

So the rule is "2 weeks notice" - unless you want to be more polite or less polite than that, or you are keenly aware that a different time allocation is appropriate. If holidays are involved, for most professional roles it is likely your employer would appreciate additional time to adjust to your departure.


No they are not necessarily required to pay accrued vacation time. It has happened to me in two states and I took it up with the state labor board. If there is no stated cash equivalent then there is no cash equivalent. You cannot assume the cash value of a vacation day is your prorated pay. The safe bet is to explicitly use the vacation time.

On holiday they typically will not give you credit for the holiday if you don't work after the holiday. The safe bet is to work one day after the holiday.

  • Is there a downside to complaining to the labor board? That is, somehow future possible employers hearing about it and deciding not to hire you because you "make trouble"? (I don't think it should be viewed that way, but some companies might do so.) Nov 16, 2015 at 21:56
  • Labor board is free and anonymous from my experience - do it every time.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 16, 2015 at 22:00

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