Labor laws and policies in Illinois give employees the right to resign from jobs for any reason and whenever they choose. Employer policies may prevent employees who resign from obtaining the full range of benefits that other employees may receive. In no cases, however, may employers delay paying final wages.
Illinois is an employment-at-will state, which people sometimes take to mean simply that employers may fire employees for any reason. While that part is true, employment-at-will also means employees may terminate the employment relationship for any reason. Employees may leave the company whenever they want and do not have to provide a minimum amount of notice, such as two weeks.
Employees in Illinois who leave a job for any reason must receive final wages no later than the next regularly scheduled payday. If possible, employees should receive final compensation at the time of their resignation. Employees also have the right to request final wages in the form of a check that arrives in the mail. Employers must comply with such requests.
In general, employers may not implement policies that deny payment for vacation time employees have accrued but not yet used at the time of their resignations. The Illinois labor code states that individual employee contracts and company policy manuals may not call for the forfeiture of accrued vacation time upon separation. The only exception is in the case of a collective bargaining agreement that allows employers to withhold payment for accrued vacation time under certain circumstances. No language in the Illinois labor code requires employers to offer severance pay packages. If employers offer severance pay, they may come up with conditions such as withholding severance from employees who resign.
Policies relating to unemployment benefits in Illinois and elsewhere may result in a denial of benefits to employees who resign from their jobs. The state's Department of Employment Security writes that a voluntary resignation may disqualify employees from the unemployment benefits program. If employees demonstrate that they resigned with good cause attributable to their employers, however, they may be able to retain their eligibility for benefits.