Legal Considerations Before Quitting Your Job

December 6, 2021


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Legal considerations before quitting your job seattle l&i attorney and workers' comp lawyer

The American workforce is amid a record number of resignations, with more than 4.4 million employees jumping ship in September, and more expected to follow. Globally, more than 40% of workers were considering quitting their jobs or switching professions earlier this year, according to research from Microsoft. The trend is part of what Microsoft calls a shift to “hybrid work,” in which some employees return to the office and others continue to work from home.

While these statistics might be reassuring to someone preparing to make the leap themselves, departing in a hasty manner could cause you a major headache. Taking into consideration the following points can help you avoid legal trouble and pick the right time to submit your resignation in Washington state. 

Unemployment benefits: Generally speaking, unemployment insurance is reserved for workers who lose their jobs due to layoffs or other termination. However, employees who quit their jobs may also be eligible if Washington’s Employee Security Department determines they resigned for “good cause.” Click here to see what classifies as a good-cause departure. 

The final paycheck: Washington state law requires employers to pay workers who quit their final paycheck on or before the next scheduled paycheck, even if they haven’t turned in keys, uniforms, tools, etc. That said, it’s a good idea to hand over the company laptop or any other work property as soon as possible. Refusing to do so could result in an expensive lawsuit.  

Bonus, unused vacation time: Unfortunately, severance, personal holidays, and vacation time are considered voluntary benefits in Washington, so it is up to your employer to decide whether to pay out those benefits in the final paycheck. If you believe you are owed any of these benefits, contact an attorney for a free consultation.

With that in mind, you might want to hold off on quitting until you’ve collected your bonus and used up that hard-earned vacation.

Two weeks’ notice: While giving your employer two weeks’ notice before vacating your position is widely considered the norm, it is not a legal requirement.

Washington is an “at-will employment” state, meaning that employers can fire an employee at any time—and employees can leave at any time. However, it is illegal for an employer to fire or retaliate against a worker for discussing or filing a complaint about a violation of their protected rights, according to Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries.

Resignation letter: It’s a good idea to submit your resignation in writing, so that you have documentation in case your employer decides to dispute the details of your departure in court. Otherwise, it’s your word against theirs.

Emery | Reddy helps workers. Call us if you have an L&I, unfair pay practices, workers’ comp, injury, or other employment law claim.

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