We just received a question from a reader that might interest many of our readers. Susan asks whether an employee has to be paid for two weeks when she gives the traditional two weeks' notice and the company terminates her employment immediately.
Absent a contract, employees in NJ are considered to be "at will." This means that they can leave voluntarily at any time. Conversely, the employer can fire them at any time so long as there is no violation of anti-discrimination laws.
While some employers still ask for two weeks' notice when an employee wants to leave the company, the employee is not required to comply. If you want to leave, you can leave immediately without any legal problem.
The converse is also true. If the company is going to fire you, they can require you to leave today, and will often escort you off the premises immediately.
So, when an employer gets a memo informing them of an employee's intention to leave in two weeks, the employer will often expedite the process and terminate the relationship immediately.
The employer is only obligated to pay for time actually worked. Unless the employer has a policy that promises to pay out the two week notice period, there is no legal obligation on them to do so.
So, to answer Susan's question, the company probably does not have to pay. All they will be obligated to pay is accrued and unused vacation time. There is more information on that subject in this post.
If you are interested in an plain-spoken article on this subject from an HR perspective, check this from James Carlini, which goes into more detail.