Balancing banked leave, yearly bonuses, signing bonuses, and rapid hiring?
September 10, 2009 7:48 PM   Subscribe

How do I balance an accelerated hiring timeline, banked vacation time, and an upcoming bonus? I'm expecting to be offered a job, and the hiring manager wants someone in the role in days-not-weeks. The performance year at my current job is just wrapping up, and bonuses won't be paid out until mid-October. I also want to take the vacation time I've earned. How can I make this work best for me?

How much information can I share with the prospective manager? I really have no interest in continuing my current position, but don't want to miss out on the new one simply for a bonus. On the other hand, I god damned earned this yearly bonus, and it has the potential to be sizable (~10% annual gross). Ideally, I'd be able to negotiate for a signing bonus and still collect my pending bonus, but I worry that telling my prospective boss to delay his plans in order to collect an extra check won't get him excited about giving me a signing bonus. Should I reveal my intentions and negotiate for an extra-fat signing bonus to get me onboard?

And how do I balance my vacation time? I've got ~3 weeks saved up and I really don't want to lose it. Is it typical for a company to buy out vacation time because an employee is leaving, or would I need to do what I've done before and use it on my way out the door? Can I be doubly-employed? Should I ask my prospective boss to delay his plans so I can take vacation?

On a slightly related note, I've already expressed reservations about the accelerated timeline, citing (legitimate) concerns about existing work obligations. I like some of the people I work with, and don't want to screw them by surprising them.

The older I get, the more complex my life gets, and I don't know anyone who can advise me that doesn't have an interest in my actions... so to the hivemind I go!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
In this economy, you have an offer for a job that you sound more interested in. Take it and leave the bonus and vacation on the table.
posted by dfriedman at 7:53 PM on September 10, 2009

Tell the hiring manager about the sitution and either a) get them to pay you a hiring bonus equal to the bonus you would get normally or b) talk them into letting you contract until you have the bonus.

As for vacation, I could be wrong here (this is the case for MA), but if your vacation time should be part of your compensation and you should receive the balance in full upon leaving the company. Every time I leave a company, I receive a check for my leftover vacation time.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:58 PM on September 10, 2009

First of all, congratulations on getting a job offer!

I've never left a job and not been paid for my vacation time; that's time owed to me in days off or in money, if I never got to take it. I assume you are legally owed that if it's promised to you in your offer letter (do you still have your initial offer letter to check?) -- or in the employee handbook (do you have a copy of that?). It's certainly worth some research on your part, though, particularly if you're talking about three weeks pay. I'm almost certain when you leave, your last check will have that as a matter of course, it's so common, but in case it doesn't you can likely fight for it.

If you're expecting an offer any moment now, and your new employer wants someone in days, not weeks, if you're going to take this job, I'd imagine that you can kiss your mid-October bonus goodbye. Unless this bonus is five figures, I wouldn't even consider keeping a job you don't like for a bonus, unless you're on the fence about this potential new job.

Also, something about that. I'm highly suspect of companies that make a FT hire because they are in SO much trouble immediately that they would pressure prospective employees to actively burn bridges with their current employers and rush over (let alone no time off between jobs). This suggests to me that the new company is not so much with the good planning techniques. That might not be a dealbreaker, but knowing that going in is very important. I've certainly been in a situation on more than one project where I had a difficult slot to fill, and every day that ticked by, I got more nervous when the role wasn't staffed, but a two week (or more, depending) lag with a new hire is to be expected. If giving two weeks at your current job is a dealbreaker for your offer, I'd say that's a bad sign. And yes, the economy and unemployment are both bad enough that difficult to fill slots aren't quite so difficult these days.

Finally, don't be swayed away from things that are completely normal to expect (vacation pay, at least two weeks from the acceptance of the offer to your first day at work) because this economy is not good. If they want you and need you, they will wait two weeks. If you are entitled to your vacation time, you are entitled to it.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2009

About vacation pay, your company probably has a vacation policy which they either post on a bulletin board, their intranet, or give you a copy of when you begin employment there if not all three. The policy probably covers what happens to your vacation upon termination.

Be very cautious about accepting a position from a company that doesn't allow you at least two weeks to give notice to your current employer. They are not going to be any more considerate towards you. (on preview, what pazazygeek said.)

That said, it's perfectly okay to bring up the performance bonus during negotiations. I would not mention it as, "I want to stay for one month more so I can get the bonus" but rather, "We just had performance reviews and I'm expecting a substantial bonus, which I would be forfeiting upon accepting this opportunity. Can you offer a signing bonus?" It never hurts to ask.
posted by txvtchick at 8:15 PM on September 10, 2009

Is it typical for a company to buy out vacation time because an employee is leaving

IME, in California at least, "vacation time" is banked and paid out upon separation. Companies have to carry this liability on their books. Any accrued sick time, however, is lost.

My advice is to make the transitions work as well for the two companies involved and not try to be a greedy bastard, using the term loosely, at this time.
posted by Palamedes at 8:41 PM on September 10, 2009

If you had three weeks notice, you could start your vacation and start the new job while on 'vacation'. You would be paid your bonus at the end of your vacation.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 PM on September 10, 2009

Do check into the laws of your state re: paying out vacation days on separation.

Do listen to everything pazazygeek said.

Do not buy into the supposition that in "this economy" you are somehow no longer allowed to act in your own best interest.

Do not buy ever ever let anyone tell you you are a "greedy bastard" for acting in your own best interest. Get what you deserve and have earned, and enjoy it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2009

I am suspicious of companies who want you to start immediately. There is a problem there they are not telling you about. I don't care whether it's the fact that the manager didn't get the headcount approved early enough or if they're just lazy about interviewing. Every time I have been in the OMG WE NEED YOU TO START YESTERDAY mode it's been a disaster.

Any company who won't let you give two weeks' notice to your current employer is not one you want to work for. If you are in any kind of senior role, you might need to give more. It would be understandable, although I generally believe that unless you are top management, it becomes awkward and counterproductive to give more than two weeks' notice. But if the hiring manager won't let you give two weeks' notice, and there isn't any reason given - e.g. "We have to get these legal documents filed by 10/1 and the person who you are replacing is having her labor induced on 9/30" - warning bells should go off.

Regarding vacation, please check your employee handbook. It will tell you what will happen to your vacation time. Many, not all, companies will pay you for accrued vacation if you give them sufficient notice. But it's not a guessing game. This is documented somewhere. Also, many companies turn off your vacation clock as soon as you give notice, so you can't give notice and then take vacation. So, check on this.

Regarding your bonus situation. I know you believe you are going to be offered the job soon but you haven't been offered it yet, so you have some time. If you know the date you need to work to qualify for the bonus, give that as the date you can start WHEN YOU ARE ASKED. Don't negotiate it in advance. Don't ask questions about it. Cross the bridge when you get to it because if something happens and they end up not offering you the job until 10/1 then 10/15 as a start date is perfectly reasonable.

I do not believe that you are going to be able to take your three weeks' vacation AND wait to give notice until you accrue your bonus AND take a new job, given what you have told us here.

But it sounds like you're missing a bunch of information you absolutely need. And you don't have the offer yet. So go get the information and then you'll be smarter.
posted by micawber at 8:09 AM on September 11, 2009

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