Need to quit my job while on FMLA.
April 12, 2014 7:43 PM   Subscribe

How should I quit my job to start another one while I'm on FMLA leave?

I applied for a job way back in February, and after many interviews, I was awarded said job. So yay! I'm supposed to start with the new company on 4/28.

My mother was admitted to the hospital this past Monday and was moved to in-patient Hospice yesterday. When I last talked to my current boss, I told her I wanted to take FMLA starting this coming Monday. The hospital is 5 hours away from my home, and I'll be here until she's gone.

I need to know how to tactfully tell my boss that I'm not coming back. The timing is absolute garbage, and I just can't figure out a good way to handle the conversation. I'm also not 100% sure that I'll be back home to have this conversation in person.
posted by santojulieta to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Bonus question: My new boss sent me a happy "Welcome to the Team!" email, and I'm trying to figure out how to reply. One of the recruiters knows that I'm having a family emergency (but no specific details.)
posted by santojulieta at 7:50 PM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: "Instead of taking FMLA, I think it would be better if I just left. Let me know if I can tie anything up when I'm ready to take on work again. I am really sorry about this, and if I've left anything open, I will be happy to help you close it or pass it on."

Your boss will be happy she doesn't have to fill your shoes temporarily. If they go over the line of asking you open info, tell them you'd be happy to sign a short term contract after hospice.

Sorry about your mom.
posted by bensherman at 7:51 PM on April 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could wait until the end of the FMLA period. I would not recommend this. The current employer deserves better, and the high road is the preferred route under these very trying circumstances. The customary two weeks for notice is pretty much right now.
posted by yclipse at 8:16 PM on April 12, 2014

I'm not sure I'm reading this right, but it's possible that you will need to delay starting the new job, right? Because you're staying with your mom until she passes?

If I were you, I'd take advantage of your FML status until you're 100% sure that you'll be starting the new job. You may or may not be able to take leave right away with the new position, and you definitely won't be eligible for FML there, so you should stay in the protected leave status for as long as possible. That's what it's there for - to protect your employment and health insurance coverage while you're dealing with a family emergency. There's no ethical or legal imperative to give up this protection because you are changing jobs. The law says that your employer has to hold your job (or its equivalent) until you return to work, it doesn't say you, as the employee, must return to that job. And if it makes you feel better, women do this all the time when they're out on maternity leave. Either they run out the clock on FML and then quit, or find a new job while they're not working.
posted by donajo at 8:54 PM on April 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maybe check with a lawyer in your jurisdiction to Make sure this is ok to do, but in general, protecting your employment and health insurance status is paramount.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this right now.

Have you signed a contract with the new employer?
posted by jbenben at 10:46 PM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: I don't mean to be disloyal to Ask MetaFilter but this sounds like a good question for Ask A Manager. Alison is a great resource and there's lots of other people there with HR knowledge. This is just the type of complicated situation that she'd be interested in, I think.

If it's a faux pas to recommend people use another site, I apologize.
posted by Beti at 12:54 AM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

It you start your new job before you were scheduled to return from leave, or if the new job happens to be where you are now not where your old job is, your old boss will think you lied about needing leave. There could be pay / benefit cost implications, amd certainly reputational ones.
posted by MattD at 3:49 AM on April 13, 2014

If you don't return to work for at least 30 days after you finish with FMLA, your employer can go after you for the money it spent on your health care during the leave period.

Your best bet is probably to just use all of your remaining vacation and sick time--which you were probably going to have to use anyway--rather than FMLA, and then just deal with a brief gap in your employment and benefits.

IAAL, but IANYL, so you should definitely take this up with a local employment attorney if you want to use FMLA.
posted by valkyryn at 4:34 AM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I had a boss quit while he was on FMLA for a baby. He gave two weeks notice and occasionally came back into the office during those two weeks to help wrap things up. Which is probably not an option for you if you are 5 hours away, though.

Is the new job starting on the 28th absolutely set in stone? I really hope not because if you are waiting for a family member to die, you're on "who the hell knows" time. How understanding is the new boss about this situation? How much flexibility are they going to allow you to have about starting and dealing with this? Have you talked to them, because you haven't really mentioned them here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:55 AM on April 13, 2014

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