Trying to quit my job is harder than I thought it would be.
September 20, 2011 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Please give me advice on a sticky job resignation issue. My manager did not accept my resignation date, and then things got complicated.

I work for a major company in the US (fortune 100). I accepted a position with a competing major company. This morning, I gave notice verbally to my manager (Joan). Because we both work from home, I did this over the phone. When asked, I gave October 4 as my last day, which is a two week notice. Joan stated that I might be required to stay for a longer period of time due to my position, and she needed to research it. I was pretty sure that there is no such policy, and that our Human Resources website states that employment is at will and no notice is required by either party. I agree to let her research it, she's obviously surprised by the news. I figure my two weeks is not going to be an issue once she realizes that there is actually no requirement at all. We plan to meet again later that afternoon, at our regularly scheduled weekly meeting.

During the afternoon meeting, Joan again states that she is still researching the possible requirement for me to stay, and that she needs to talk with her manager before giving me an end date (her manager is the department head and is traveling on business this week). Joan tells me that it would be no longer than three weeks. At this point, I'm kind of in shock. I decide to get her off the phone ASAP and call the HR hotline to make sure I understand the policy as written. My reasoning behind this is due to Joan's argumentative nature (even when wrong). Her tone was already confrontational, and I wasn't prepared to have an argument and potentially say something I might later regret. Joan was already giving me a hard time in general, saying things like "I can't figure out who should take over your work, you only told me this morning and we don't even know how long you will be here".

When I call the HR hotline, the HR representative ends up reading me the "manager's view" of the webpage, which has more information than my version shows. It clearly states that there is no notice requirement for voluntary termination, and says that 1-2 weeks notice could be given as a courtesy. At this point, I'm not sure if Joan is truly ignorant of the policy (she's been a manager here for twenty years), or if she's using shady tactics to get me to stay an extra week. I wouldn't put it past her, but it's equally possible she's getting it confused with a policy for when an employee makes an internal move (not sure why she wouldn't look it up if she wasn't sure). At any rate, I'm now very wary of staying the full two weeks.

A further complicating factor:
If I start with my new employer before 10/1, I am eligible for their 2011 bonus payout next spring. It's prorated, but it still could be anywhere from $1500-$3000. I was willing to give that up to enable the other members of my team to have a smoother transition, but given Joan's refusal to accept my 10/4 end date, as well as her unwillingness to discuss any transitioning of my work, I would now like to leave on 9/29 so I can start with my new employer in time to earn a bonus. I have not yet sent anything to Joan in writing. I don't think this as a stalling tactic in order to make a counter offer.

I can see only two options at this point, is there anything else? I want to start at the new company on 09/29 no matter what. Please keep in mind that I am trying to avoid burning bridges (yes, it might be past that point) and I really want to leave on good terms with nothing on my file (I don't really know how this works). As far as her reference goes, I've been with the company for eight years and have four other managerial references, so I'd never use her anyway. I would prefer to avoid involving Human Resources, but I am open to that route if necessary.

OPTION 1: Send Joan a short resignation e-mail stating that I have researched the notice policy and that my last day of employment will be 09/28. (Please help me with the resignation e-mail wording if this is the best option).
OPTION 2: Wait until she talks with her manager. This could go three ways:
1. Her manager tells me I need to leave immediately because I am going to a competitor (fine with me, problem solved)
2. Her manager is also clueless and agrees that I need to stay the three weeks (I really can't see this one happening unless Joan outright lies). I'm not sure what I would do at this point, but I definitely won't stay past 09/28. Advice welcome.
3. Her manager tells her that obviously we're an at will company and she needs to accept my resignation date. At this point, I would need to revise my resingation date to 09/28. I'm not sure what I would say here, probably just that I received new information since we last talked and I need to revise the date. Advice welcome.
OPTION 3: Something else (please explain)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Send a note stating your last day will be 9/28. CC someone in HR. No need to mention research, etc.
posted by sanko at 6:33 PM on September 20, 2011 [26 favorites]

Option 1. She sounds delusional.
posted by bq at 6:33 PM on September 20, 2011

Option 3: Work the two weeks like you said you would.
posted by 256 at 6:33 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sit down with Joan and HR to clear things up. But yeah, two weeks is normal

(generous, when considering that in at-will states the company needs to provide zero notice to most employees before laying 'em off).
posted by zippy at 6:34 PM on September 20, 2011

To Joan, CC HR:

"Dear Joan: I hereby resign my position. I will be available to continue in my position until September 28th, 2011. Sincerely, Anon."

I see no reason to wait or to bring up the policy, since you have already been advised by HR that you are in the clear. And even if they do ask you to keep coming in, you can just... not.
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:34 PM on September 20, 2011 [30 favorites]

First, HR is not your friend, and if they do respond, it will be on behalf of the employer, not you. I'm not sure where you got the idea that they'd help you, but it absolutely is not true. Stop believing in them, no matter your choice or situation. HR is always a trap, and *always* on the side of the employer's legal liability.

Second, quit on your schedule. Done. Yes, the whole company is clueless, they are hoping they can snow you.

Third, if they are this clueless, they are too clueless to do anything but adhere to the company line, which is always "do not give details of how this employee left the company." You are in no danger of being blackballed. I've called hundreds of references, and never once gotten an attempted blackball, it is just too legally dangerous for even the worst employee.
posted by Invoke at 6:36 PM on September 20, 2011 [9 favorites]

Option 3. Get the HR rep's policy info in writing (email). Send this email to Joan and say, "I went ahead and checked with HR and it is fine for me to provide you with 1-2 weeks of notice. As such, my last day will be 9/28. I will do my very best in preparing you and the team for the transition through that date."

Congrats on the new job!
posted by dayintoday at 6:39 PM on September 20, 2011 [26 favorites]

HR has told you that 1 - 2 week notice could be given as a courtesy. You are giving them a courtesy. If Joan gives you grief about leaving on 9/28 you could easily give her the option that you are willing to work until 9/28, but if she would rather you could leave right now, you will. Those are the options you give the company. And if she proceeds to make your remaining time miserable... leave. Send a letter of resignation to HR as well as your manager, if you end up leaving sooner, follow up the HR letter with a letter a reason for your early withdrawal. These will go in your file and will be good to have to offer some small counter to whatever Joan might feel to place int here.

It is nice not to burn bridges, but you also need to be advocating for yourself above all else.
posted by edgeways at 6:44 PM on September 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

You've gotten lots of excellent advice on this already. I'll only add one more suggestion. Keep your calm. Don't get drawn into your manager's drama. When she says she needs you to work three weeks notice, simply reply "That won't work for me. The last day I can work is 9/28." in the calmest, most level voice you can manage. Repeat as necessary.
posted by browse at 6:53 PM on September 20, 2011 [20 favorites]

My expectation of a Fortune 100 company is that there is an on-line HR process for termination. I would look for that. These companies are too large to handle it any other way. I'd recommend looking for that. It should be in the same area as if you were asking for a leave of absence or any other HR related item. On our website it says "termination" and you get a pull down menu. There will probably be other instructions as well - if you fill out a timekeeping system, last paycheck, exit interview, etc. HR should be there to help. I'd recommend starting at the company to be eligible for the bonus, if they can get you on the payroll that fast.

I'm a manager. I'd hate to see you leave my group, but I'd understand. I'd wish you luck and ask you to do all you can to transition your knowledge to others in the group in the time you do have left (so I might want you to come into the office).

Of course, if your an Executive, all bets are off because you have some kind of contract and IANYL.
posted by Edward L at 6:58 PM on September 20, 2011

The only difference between option one and option two is that, with option two, there's a chance your problem will be solved for you.

Wait until Joan speaks with her manager, and then, if that conversation doesn't result in you being told you can leave immediately, send a resignation letter advising them politely that you'll be leaving to accept another offer, and your last day is 9/29.
posted by koeselitz at 7:00 PM on September 20, 2011

I'm suprised, however, that you gave the notice verbally in the first place, then waited on Joan's terms. Give whatever form of written notice is appropriate, and I'm with the crowd that say 9/28 is fine and keep it short and sweet.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:10 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Option 1 sounds best, but if you really want to avoid burning bridges sticking to the 10/4 date you initially asked for sounds fair for both parties. If you don't stick to this date, Joan has a solid basis to resent you. From Joan's perspective less than two weeks notice is a huge challenge to fill.
posted by zemaj at 7:12 PM on September 20, 2011

In an email, write:

"Dear Joan,

Pursuant to our conversation on 9/20/11, I resign my position as Widget Manager with Fortune 100 Company. I understand that you had a concern about my last day being 10/4/11, so my last day will instead be 9/29/11. Thank you for the opportunity to work here.


cc: HR Person"

Now fill in the blanks and send the email. Done and done.
posted by juniperesque at 7:13 PM on September 20, 2011 [8 favorites]

1) Don't burn any bridges.
2) Don't let people treat you like shit.
posted by ovvl at 7:16 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dear Joan,

Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation. My last day at Company X will be September 29, 2011.

I have enjoyed working with you over the years and appreciate your mentorship.


cc: HR
posted by bluedaisy at 7:32 PM on September 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

It's a little surprising that they want you to stay; most companies start to worry about security. Back up your email contacts, and any personal data. Do you have any accrued vacation? Because then you can simply use vacation days to pad the time: My last day at work will be 9\28; I'll use up 4 of my X remaining vacation days for the balance of the week. They are legally required to pay you earned vacation.

Meanwhile, start documenting what you're working on, making sure that you leave things really well-prepared for whoever takes on your work.

And always remember that employers lay people off in a heartbeat, for business reasons, with 0 days notice. Be professional and ethical, but don't treat them that much better than they'd treat you.
posted by theora55 at 7:34 PM on September 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Some people take it personally when you decide to move on professionally. Especially if you're doing a good job, and it makes them look good to their boss.

Watch your back. When this happened to me at a non Fortune 100 company, it ended badly.

Cover your ass.

Good luck.
posted by Sphinx at 7:41 PM on September 20, 2011

I just happened to be reading today about how this works in Texas.

I'm not a lawyer, and you're probably not in this state. But taking a plain reading of the local rules as likely and typical, giving 2wks+ notice in writing is supposed to ensure that you get your last paycheck by a particular time and that you are awarded any contractual benefits that might be contingent on proper notice.

If you don't care about either of those things (or any future references from these folks), option 1 may well be fine. It's not like you're going to be filing an unemployment claim, which is what most of this stuff really has to do with.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:44 PM on September 20, 2011

They are legally required to pay you earned vacation.

No, this is not true in all states. Many companies as part of their employment practices will pay you for unused vacation time, Fortune 500 companies included, but it's not a requirement. (I only know for sure it's not in Oregon and Washington).
posted by fiercekitten at 7:45 PM on September 20, 2011

Depending on your position, your company, and the state you work in, your employment agreement may have a "non-compete" clause. If you told your manager that you have accepted a position with a competitor, then she may be researching whether or not they can invoke that.

If that's not the issue, I'm surprised she didn't just give you two weeks pay in lieu of notice, because that's been my experience when someone leaves to go to a competitor. They usually watch you clean out your desk and walk you to the door.

I would suggest you review your employment agreement and perhaps consult an employment lawyer.
posted by elmay at 8:19 PM on September 20, 2011

Bah, don't worry about non-competes. In 999/1000 cases they aren't worth spit. I'm guessing you aren't in the 1/1000 category, or you'd already be beyond thinking that HR is going to help you, due to experience.

I'm not your lawyer, I'm just someone who know his rights and isn't afraid of scare tactics.
posted by Invoke at 8:37 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

All of the above, also remember that an HR person could show up at your desk (or send an email) at any time and say 'bye'.
posted by sammyo at 8:37 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

how many sick days have you saved up? something to keep in mind if things go south...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:50 PM on September 20, 2011

Have you actually sent an email? If you didn't, did you document the date and time of the first phone call, and subsequent phone calls?

If you're in the clear, you're in the clear - set Sept 28 as the hard end date.

In terms of burning bridges, it would have been better to have provided 4 weeks' notice, but what are they going to do to you? Tell your mother? I'm sure you'll continue cruising along in your career. No big deal
posted by KokuRyu at 9:00 PM on September 20, 2011

Re wording - short and sweet FTW.


My last day with [firm] will by 28 September, 2011. Thank you very much for the opportunity to work with you over the last n years.


cc: hr."
posted by colin_l at 9:10 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You've definitely gotten some great advice here that I suggest you follow.

However I want to give you a tip for the future. In this situation you approached it too passively. At the end of the day, it is just business, and you need to look out for yourself. So if you are ever leaving a company again--you do NOT ask them when you can leave. You tell them, and then try to help them make arrangements to ensure a smooth transition. If you have a good relationship they may ask you to stay longer, at which point it is a negotiation where everything is fair game. For example, in this situation, you may have been able to negotiate staying longer conditional upon they paying you the amount of the bonus you would be missing.

In any event, just some food for thought for the future.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:26 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think you should send an email resignation immediately, but leave the date out. Wait a day or two to see what this lady comes back with. If it is not to your satisfaction, tell her something came up and you are now leaving on the 28th. Of course, you will be available by phone to answer questions.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:26 PM on September 20, 2011

Tell Joan that if she doesn't like your two week advance notice then how would she feel about you leaving tomorrow (because that could be arranged) ?

Enjoy your new job.

P.S. wrote the note that colin suggested above . Do it tomorrow. Unless you have signed a contract of some sort and from your post it does not appear that you have, you are under no obligation to work there one second longer than you wish.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:28 PM on September 20, 2011

You need to get your resignation in e-mail today, even if you don't have the date locked down. Your manager has not even talked to her manager yet, and she's going to claim you didn't tell her today if you don't have it in writing.
posted by SakuraK at 9:32 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Immediately get a written resignation to your boss, with a cc to HR, with your chosen last date. No need to justify it or discuss your conversation with HR or explain how employment works, just stick to the facts.

I think that the most stand-up thing to do would be to stick with your original date.

Get that HR person to send you the "managers view" policy in writing.
posted by desuetude at 10:07 PM on September 20, 2011

I would say Option 1. I have never heard of such nonsense as requiring you to work longer than a 2-weeks notice. What are they going to do, sue you so that they can pay you to work longer for them? Nuts!
posted by starpoint at 10:59 PM on September 20, 2011

Good advice here - send notice now, one sentence stating the date you are leaving. I might add a parenthetical along the lines of (this timeline assumes the usual professional work environment). Optional - if you want to help out the people you like on your team, you can put in some extra night/weekend work to prepare documentation from home, etc.

Clean out your desk etc. today and be prepared to be let go/leave at any moment. If your manager starts to make things unpleasant or harass you or play any other games, send one final email to HR: "Due to unprofessional conduct from Joan, my resignation is now effective immediately". Walk out and enjoy a few days off before you start your new job!
posted by mikepop at 6:07 AM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

two weeks is more of a nicety than a legal thing. We work in an at-will country, imagine her wanting to let you go and you say "ehhh... that's just not going to work with me, check back in two weeks."

Go with option 1, or alternately send that letter to her and a duplicate to HR re-stating Oct 4 as your last day.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:19 AM on September 21, 2011

sorry, skimmed you "A further complicating factor" section before. Now I vote for 9.28/29.

Write that letter saying you need to resign a bit quicker due to some extenuating circumstances, and that you'll put in some extra hours on the weekend to make sure documentation is done. If you boss tries to pull shit then write another letter, like mikepop says, and leave immediately.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:25 AM on September 21, 2011

They are legally required to pay you earned vacation.

No, this is not true in all states. Many companies as part of their employment practices will pay you for unused vacation time, Fortune 500 companies included, but it's not a requirement. (I only know for sure it's not in Oregon and Washington).
posted by fiercekitten at 7:45 PM on September 20 [+] [!]

Just for clarification, some states might be more restrictive, but if vacation pay is something that is *earned* as compensation, then it must be paid out (somehow). It depends on how the policy is written. I'm not an expert on the language, but it usually looks like this:

"Employees will accrue one hour of vacation time for every 25 hours worked."

That means they will owe you that time. However:

"For each full year of service, an employee is entitled to two weeks of paid vacation."

In that case, you only get the vacation time if you've completed a full year, and would only be entitled to any time that had been banked from the previous full year of service.
posted by gjc at 6:57 AM on September 21, 2011

You work at a Fortune 100 company and are leaving to join a competitor; I would be prepared for a surprise visit to your office/desk from somebody from HR with a cardboard box and a security guard. Gather your personal effects now.
posted by chicxulub at 6:58 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with the above.

2 weeks resignation is a courtesy. To prevent burned bridges, and to be a stand up person, many people will negotiate their last date - sometimes staying on a month or two extra to close out important work as needed.

But, you have extenuating circumstances, around the October 1 date. So, I'd opt for that. It gets a bit more involved if you want to go another route, in which case, I'd get a temporary employment contract in place that keeps you at your current comapny for x weeks, but at current salary with an extra pay-out to cover the opportunity cost losses you incur by not starting at competitor company by Oct 1. Additionally, you'll have to make sure with a lawyer that they don't sneak any non-compete bull into that temporrary contract, or any options to extend you, etc etc, AND you'd have to make sure the company you're going to is cool with you delaying your start date (which, most would be, seeing your willingness to close out your work as agood work ethic that you'll be bringing to them).

Finally - a lot fo people are acting like it is the end of the world and security will come down on you. It's not that big of a deal. But, I am surprised that they didn't just thank you for your service and show you the door, two weeks paid, and have a good day.

People should put just as much planning into *leaving* a company as they do in joining one.. folks don't seem to be prepared properly many times.
posted by rich at 7:04 AM on September 21, 2011


Do you work in a right to work state? Not that this matters, but I find Joan's need to control you interesting. I believe if you are in a right to work state not accepting your resignation date is simply not possible.

As others have stated 2 weeks is a courtesy. The resignation should have been done in writing. I agree with the comments to send an e-mail now. I would add, "I wanted to confirm our phone conversation on xxx date. Effective xxx I will resign from the company."

I am assuming of course you received your job offer in writing as well. It has happened to me before where I was basically told I had a job only to find funding fell through and I did not get the position. It was a very good thing I did not tell my current employer about the other job offer. Make sure you have this offer in writing.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 7:16 AM on September 21, 2011

Depending on your position, your company, and the state you work in, your employment agreement may have a "non-compete" clause. If you told your manager that you have accepted a position with a competitor, then she may be researching whether or not they can invoke that.

posted by spicynuts at 7:21 AM on September 21, 2011

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate all the advice given. This must sound so naive but it's been eight years since I quit a job to go to another company. Option 1 seems like the cleanest break at this point, and it is also the best way to be sure my notice gets on record in a timely manner.

I wanted to respond to a few items:
- There is no non-compete agreement
- I am also suprised that they would want to keep me around for so long when I am going to a competitor (I work in business intelligence analytics/reporting).

- To those saying I should work until Oct 4: It is not in my best interest to stay given the way this has been handled so far. Joan is a big part of why I am leaving the company. She has been retaliatory ever since I interviewed for another position within the company earlier this year. I should have seen this coming.
- I agree with what Invoke wrote; HR is not my friend. I will not be revealing any of this in my exit interview.
- There's not much HR presence within my company. We have a hotline and a website only. There is a termination procedure, but Joan needs to flip the switch before I can access it.
- Agree that I need to get my resignation email in ASAP. Currently, there's no record at all that I even gave notice.
- We use a PTO system and I have days to take, but that's another hassle as Joan is the one who approves them.

Re: me asking about my end date. That's not how it happened. I told her October 4, she came back immediately with the bogus notice requirement. I did not push the issue because she stated she needed to check into it at first. However, I was caught off guard in our second meeting when it turned out she had not researched anything. I just didn't think that would happen. Looking back, it would have been wise to verify with HR first and then come up with a game plan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

- Agree that I need to get my resignation email in ASAP. Currently, there's no record at all that I even gave notice.

My letter would read something like:

Dear Joan,

Per our conversation of Sept X, I am tendering my resignation from Company Fortune 100. I am available to continue in my current position until 9/29. If it will make the transition easier, I can be available by phone to the next person to fill this position if he or she has questions.

Thank you for the time and education you have given me during my time here.
Very truly yours,
posted by small_ruminant at 9:03 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it will make the transition easier, I can be available by phone to the next person to fill this position if he or she has questions.

OMG don't do this without being absolutely sure you're getting paid for the phone calls. There is no benefit to you and they will take advantage any way they can.
posted by desjardins at 9:24 AM on September 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

If it will make the transition easier, I can be available by phone to the next person to fill this position if he or she has questions.

This may not be permitted by your employment agreement with your new employer, especially given that they are a competitor to the company you are leaving.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:41 AM on September 21, 2011

I have always done it and it's never worked out badly for me. If it seems like they're taking advantage of you, you can renegotiate.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:42 AM on September 21, 2011

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