Unprofessional to get paid for a break via employer I am quitting?
December 2, 2010 3:25 PM   Subscribe

New job wants me to start before my paid winter break of current job starts. Is it rude/unprofessional to try and get paid for both?

I am about to accept a job offer tomorrow. Start date is December 20th. Current employer has no idea. This throws a serious wrench in their operations as I am the only IT guy for 70% of the work force. The other guy (My boss) is in a different state/office.

Current company gives employees a paid winter break from December 23-New Year. First day back would be Jan 3. I have 37 hours of sick and 40 hours of vacation. Would it be distasteful to try and get a double paycheck out of them? If no, how would I go about doing this? Would this burn any bridges? My boss and I have a good relationship, but not good enough to let him know I had interviewed. To make things worse, he is flying up next week and wants to take me to a nice lunch :(
posted by NotSoSimple to Work & Money (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I also should add that if I do somehow make it to January, my health insurance with my 11-month old will continue. New insurance @ new job starts Feb 1. So little girl will NOT be without health insurance which is a big thing.
posted by NotSoSimple at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2010

You should check your HR policies in your current job.

I know that it is common to not be allowed to use paid vacation to extend your exit date. Instead, you get reimbursed for any unused vacation.
posted by vacapinta at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2010

We JUST switched to in house HR and currently there is no policy for this. I will be reimbursed for unused vacation, but what I am trying to do is 'stay employed' for the break while starting my new job.
posted by NotSoSimple at 3:31 PM on December 2, 2010

It is called having a second job. I would resign but offer to help in a transition during certain hours of the day in exchange for the paid vacation hiatus. I would also offer to buy your boss the lunch. He won't accept but even if he does, it helps to not burn that bridge.
posted by AugustWest at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2010

What Vaca said.

As for the insurance question - if you'd get paid out for unused vacation, use that to pay 1 month of COBRA - depends on if your employer has enough employees to be required to offer it to you after your notice of termination.
posted by tilde at 3:33 PM on December 2, 2010

So, what, you'd call out for three days, take off through New Years, then quit without notice?

That sounds like a pretty good way to burn bridges. If I were in your position, I'd give my boss notice at that nice lunch.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:33 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

The only time I've seen this be acceptable is when someone is officially retiring. Otherwise, it is viewed as a dick move.

Depends on the state you are in, of course, but I believe it is customary for vacation time to be reimbursed, and sick time to be forfeited. Because vacation is something you have earned, while sick time is a benefit. Somehow.

Where it gets tricky is how the company accounts for the winter break- is it some kind of thing that you earn, or is it accounted for as working time, but you just don't have to show up?

My best advice is to fess up to the boss. It is the right thing to do. Tell him you are concerned about the insurance thing, and would it be permissible to schedule a "vacation" to use up some of your earned time to bridge the insurance gap?

Also, there is COBRA to cover the insurance gap. It's not cheap, but if the above doesn't work, the vacation payout would certainly help to cover the cost.
posted by gjc at 3:41 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another nice thing to do would be to tell the boss as soon as you have the offer in hand. "Hey boss, I have this offer, how can we make the transition work best for both of us?" Gets you style points that might go a long way toward smoothing the road.
posted by gjc at 3:43 PM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

The fact the you put a sad face emoticon at the end of your question tells me that you know the answer already.

You want to get paid twice, everyone wants to get paid twice.

But what you are describing is a low move. It is wrong.
posted by Flood at 3:45 PM on December 2, 2010

The purpose of giving two weeks' notice before resigning is to acknowledge your previous company needs you to transition your responsibilities to another person. By your admission, you are in a critical position (little overlap with other people) so this two weeks' notice is necessary. If you do not give these two weeks, you are effectively burning bridges.

Also see this similar Ask post about quitting without notice.
posted by meowzilla at 3:46 PM on December 2, 2010

I am for sure not going to quit without 2 weeks notice, I absolutely will not. Even though my current job only gave me 3 days notice with my previous job, I will not do the same. I am thinking just letting my boss know is the best. I dont know why I am hesitant, he is very understanding usually.
posted by NotSoSimple at 3:48 PM on December 2, 2010

It's typical to give 2 weeks notice for leaving a job. And those two weeks are actual working weeks in the office, not vacation time spent, either. Given your time-frame I can't see any way to make that happen without giving notice on 6 December.

That having been said, two week notice (at least in the US) is a courtesy, not a requirement. You could theoretically take vacation from your current job from 20 December through the 23rd, use your free winter break, and then quit with no notice on Jan 2. Or quit with "two weeks notice" and use your two weeks vacation. I would not recommend this strategy. It'd reflect very poorly on you in most workplaces I know of.

If possible, you might change your start date with your new company to 17 January. Then you could get your winter break vacation, give notice after the New Year, and give two working weeks to your current job in January. This may not be possible, but it'd be my first choice if I were in this situation. Start dates are often very negotiable, especially if the new company understands you're trying to give fair notice to your old company.
posted by festivus at 3:48 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm having trouble seeing how it is wrong or unethical or "rude" or "a dick move" to receive two paychecks if you're working two jobs.

A lot of people seem to be assuming that you plan to leave job #1 with no notice, or giving notice just before break so that effectively it's zero notice since everyone is out of the office during the two weeks. It sounds like that is NOT the case from your follow up messages. It isn't clear to me exactly how you think your vacation and sick days fit into this. So which is it - are you planning to give sufficient notice that you will have 2 weeks of in-the-office time before you have to leave job #1? If so, I would not worry at all about the overlapping pay thing, frankly. However, you must be prepared for them to either boot you before winter break, or expect you to actually do some transition work over break (watch out if you already have some travel plans or something). If not, if you are effectively trying to get out of giving notice, then yeah that seems kind of like a dick move, but it's because of the lack of notice, not the second paycheck.
posted by rkent at 4:04 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am not trying to get out of giving notice, I am trying to get my paid winter break as well. Essentially if I could place my 'last day' of January 3rd, then I would get the two week break.

GJC: I went your method and spoke to my boss just know. He understood, asked if I would stay as long as possible. I offered to help him out, and also offered to answer questions once I am gone within reason.
posted by NotSoSimple at 4:22 PM on December 2, 2010

I was recently told a story (so it's all second hand) by a couple coworkers who worked with someone who did just this. Got a job offer, took the paid week break in December, and came back the 2nd of Jan to give notice that he wasn't coming back, ever. It was later found out he had received the new job offer long before the break, but kept his mouth shut simply to make sure he got his paid break, even though he had no intentions of coming back.

Technically, he did nothing wrong, as far as HR went. But man did his coworkers think this was a huge dick move and they did not appreciate it, at all. They do not speak fondly of this individual now. They were left in the lurch, and are still pissed.

Like I said, it's all hearsay, but the similarities are eerie so I thought I'd tell the story.
posted by cgg at 4:59 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's unethical at all. I think it would be wrong of your company to take the paid winter break away from you because you've been there long enough to "earn" it. It's not like you left six months ago and want to be paid an extra week because you're missing the winter break. If your coworkers are annoyed about it, it's really HR's fault (or your manager's) for not requiring enough notice of a valuable employee.
posted by anniecat at 5:08 PM on December 2, 2010

Why don't you tell new job that you won't be able to start until the 15th of January? Then you can tell your boss that you're leaving, but you're giving *four* weeks notice. Hmm, that might affect your ability to collect on the break money. I dunno, I think you're either going to have to push new job off at least a couple of weeks or give up the break pay. I don't think you'll be able to do it, unless you take a couple of vacation days to start at new job, but tell them you need the first week off in January. Anyway about it, I think it's gonna wind up complicated.
posted by rhizome at 6:18 PM on December 2, 2010

I'm contractually obliged to give my employer a month's notice if I choose to quit. (Likewise, the employer is contractually obliged to give me a month's notice if they were to terminate my employment) However, I can (and probably will) substitute some of that month with unused annual leave, suitably pro-rated for the remaining part of the financial year.

So if you have, say, 20 days vacation annually, and you quit in the second quarter, you'd have 10 days that you can take (if you haven't already) The flip side is, of course, HR might ask you to work a few extra days if you've gone above your pro-rated amount (although they won't; it's an operational risk to hold down people who want to leave).

I don't know how it works in the US, but this is a pretty typical setup in most of Asia.
posted by the cydonian at 7:34 PM on December 2, 2010

I do not think I can push the new job off any more than the 27th. I will def ask though, because I have been offered double my salary until February if I stay. Man, would it be a perfect world if the new job held off until Feb and I could double my income...

I am going to just flat out ask for the vacation pay tomorrow and see where it gets me. I am now prepared to just forfeit it.
posted by NotSoSimple at 8:16 PM on December 2, 2010

Also, something that HR at my last company told me is that insurance-through-company is generally paid on a monthly basis, i.e. if an employee quits on Day 1 of a month, their insurance is still good through the end of that month.

He gave it to me as advice when I had a last day on the 29th.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:22 AM on December 3, 2010

You have already earned your vacation and sick leave so you should get reimbursed for that. As far as extra holiday time, you should expect to get paid for that. Give the standard two weeks notice which would be Monday.
posted by JJ86 at 7:15 AM on December 3, 2010

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