Slightly complicated quitting question
June 10, 2016 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Got a new job offer with a start date in August. Would it be a dick move to take a month leave before giving notice?

So I currently work at a job that I enjoy, with coworkers I genuinely like, but I have a lengthy commute (>= 2.5 hrs/day) and a < 1 y.o. baby at home. My current employer won't budge on the telecommuting question, and moving closer is not a viable option for various reasons.

I recently applied to, and secured an offer from, a local company that I'm excited to work for for reasons even beyond the fact that it would cut my commute from 62.5 mi./day to 0.5 mi/day.

Awesome, right? Problem solved.

However, the start date at the new job isn't until early August. I think I am going to have a hard time staying focused at my current job for that long, knowing that I'm leaving, and summer is the worst time for my commute (I commute via motorcycle, and afternoon summer-time temps in SoCal are often in the triple-digits. I dread my commute even more so than normal in the summer.). Given all that, I'd prefer to leave sooner rather than later, but don't really want to take the financial hit of a month or more w/o pay, or lose my medical coverage in the interim.

Which brings me to my question: Would it be a dick move to take family-leave for the month of July, and then give a week's notice when I returned?

Due to the recent birth of my son, I'm eligible for up to 12 weeks of baby-bonding leave, some of which, but not all, I've used already. When you add the CA state benefits program which pays a portion of one's salary, during the federally mandated (i.e. they can't legally say "no".) leave, taking a month off to rest, recharge, and reset, sounds pretty attractive.

Taking the leave would allow me to keep my medical benefits intact in the interim between jobs, and because my wife, who teaches, is also off during July we could even take our first family vacation.

I'm concerned though that taking all of July off only to give a week's notice when I return, could burn bridges with my current employer, against whom I harbor no resentments (apart from their inflexibility on the whole telecommute thing, but I knew that going in.) and don't wish to leave on bad terms.

What say ye?
posted by zen_spider to Work & Money (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You're legally entitled to those weeks of leave. It might be somewhat burny to leave that way, but how important exactly are these bridges? They're 60 miles away, after all.

I am not an HR person, for what that's worth.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Sure, it's a little bit jerky. it's going to be a small black mark on your record. But people do similar things all the time. I'd actually go back 2 to 3 weeks early in order to give full notice. if I were your boss and you did this, I'd overlook it if you were a good worker and easy to work with.
posted by Kalmya at 2:56 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Could you instead take three weeks (or start the leave earlier) and come back and give two weeks' notice your first week back? Or give your notice while you're on leave? You don't have to tell anyone now that you have a new job offer - people will probably just assume you got the offer while you were on leave. The only wrinkle is if there's a chance your boss would say no to such a long leave with so little notice, but that's a problem either way.

I had a coworker who took a paid three-month sabbatical, and while she was on sabbatical, she realized that as a single mom, she would be able to do better freelancing than working full-time, so she quit after her sabbatical. Kind of a similar situation, and no one thought much of it.
posted by lunasol at 2:58 PM on June 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


What's standard leave/notice in your position? I'd give at least that much leave.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:00 PM on June 10, 2016


I'd probably switch it so that the start date is one week later and give two weeks, but if that's not possible, a week is doable. I basically did exactly that when going on a long vacation. It's only a tiny bit jerky to do one week (assuming two weeks is standard and not jerky at all, even with the leave). If they consider it bad form in any way, then that's their problem, not yours. People may grumble (I mean, that's their right, when people leave, sometimes things get harder for a while), but that doesn't mean it's a dick move.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:03 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Give them 2 weeks notice, by taking off less time, or moving your start date back a week. Then go nuts.
posted by so fucking future at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would support your decision, so long as you give two weeks notice and availability some time between now and 1 August. I would suggest making that be 18 July - 29 July.

I would not put that two weeks starting now, or starting any time soon, because in general (without knowing the specifics of the California laws you refer to), federally/state-allowable leave doesn't prevent you from being laid off during the leave. Of course, it's not legal to lay you off because of the leave... but that is incredibly hard to prove, and you would have to go to court to prove so.

I would not recommend an employee who gave less than two weeks notice under any circumstances to another hiring manager. If you gave less than two weeks notice and took parental leave, I would probably go out of my way to dissuade possible employers from hiring you.
posted by saeculorum at 3:22 PM on June 10, 2016


I am an HR person (among other things). I am not your HR person.

I don't know what the norm is in your industry, and I don't know if your job is more like "one of many identical cogs in a system" or "key player," but legally mandated or no, the tendency is that people who take off that long a period of time tend to get sort of worked around, to the extent that it's almost like "well, crap, you're BACK? Now what?..." So the key thing you can do for them is probably more to help your replacement as you take off for that leave. You know you won't be back for long, they don't, but it makes no difference.

In other words, by being gone that long they are having to work a transition plan of sorts. Once you make it clear you're not coming back, all they probably have to do is make it official/permanent. Depending on their contract with you and industry norms, they may not WANT you back on the payroll for 2 whole weeks, and if they can let you go sooner they might.

There is a chance that someone in your company will be pushed out of shape by all this, but I think even they would have to concede that you played fair by the rules of the game. Operationally you haven't hurt them much; financially they've had to pay you for being off, then you've quit, but they'd have had to do it either way (and you've contributed to some of that - seen next paragraph). It might mar your chances of going back to THAT company again, but I doubt it would seriously affect your chances of getting other jobs elsewhere.

Not sure where to put this in, but I have employees in your state and you're paying a LOT of tax for that "benefit program," so your trying to maximize that if eligible is not something you should feel bad about.

Some things I see a lot as an employer that I wish more employees knew (for their sake):

- references aren't really checked much.
- when someone does check a reference on a prior hire of mine, I tend to be "name, rank, serial number" on people I wouldn't hire again, and praise people I would hire again. Maybe it's just because I'm such a nice guy, but I think most people tend to NOT want to screw over people who used to work for them, and even if they're so inclined they're afraid of recriminations.
- unless we're really, really stupid, when it comes to employees we're polite, we're professional, but we have a plan to replace every one of you. :-). Which is why I'm *always* going to say - do what's best for YOU. The company has to take care of itself.

Ride it until it breaks (the leave, not your motorcycle).
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2016 [25 favorites]


Benefits Manager:
They MAY be able to consider this as "not returning from leave" which may affect your health insurance. As in, they have the right to terminate your health insurance at the moment they know you aren't returning from leave and the right to attempt to recover their share of the premiums paid while you are on leave.

Will this happen? I don't know, it depends a lot on your employer. But is could happen.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:38 PM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


You never know how much you will need these contacts in the future, so I'd lean towards leaving on a positive, helpful note.
posted by soakimbo at 3:58 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


If it's paid leave and you don't take it, you get paid for it. You could not take the leave, push back your start date, and effectively get your paid vacation between jobs.
posted by zippy at 4:10 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's been a long time since I took baby related family leave, but then (8 years ago), you had to be careful not to end up owing your company for benefits they paid out while you were on leave if you quit right when you got back. I can't believe randomkeystrike would not have mentioned this if it were still true, because it is kind of a big deal...but maybe double check?
posted by instamatic at 5:31 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


yeah definitely check that there's no clawback on the benefits. At my job if you take family leave (even unpaid) and don't come back to work for 30 days after it you have to pay back the employer premiums on health insurance, which can be really spendy.
posted by permiechickie at 5:34 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Do it. You're owed it.

Who's more important, your family or your employer? Who will be with you for the rest of your life vs yer outta there, they're gone, 31 July?

favorited randomkeystrike so hard that it squealed:

when it comes to employees we're polite, we're professional, but we have a plan to replace every one of you. :-). Which is why I'm *always* going to say - do what's best for YOU. The company has to take care of itself.

I sincerely doubt it will impact your life beyond the working period of the next job. You already have that job, the job after that will only care about a good reference from the one you are ready to move to.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:49 PM on June 10, 2016


I reread your question and realized it's about family leave - my answer above assumed it was regular vacation. So, I think my answer is incorrect.
posted by zippy at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2016


There is a chance that someone in your company will be pushed out of shape by all this, but I think even they would have to concede that you played fair by the rules of the game. Operationally you haven't hurt them much

So as randomkeystrike says its very dependent on the situation, but if someone in my group did this to me I would not concede they played fair at all. We do medium sized projects and we get around a month's leave for someone by delaying deliveries, turning down requests, promising to get to it when so-and-so gets back, and so on. So for me this would leave me feeling you misrepresented things when I planned for your 4 weeks off.

It's certainly within your rights. Two week's notice is a courtesy, so you could give no notice if you wanted. The question is given the situation and work are you being courteous by doing it this way? Followed I guess by do you care about courtesy given your relationship with coworkers and/or boss? (Not rhetorical questions.)

Normally I'd say it's a no-brainer to be up front about what you're planning (since it's vacation time or unpaid leave either way) but the state benefits angle makes it trickier. I don't think legally they could fire you if you said you were taking the rest of your leave, and also said you were planning to permanently leave a few weeks after you get back but I understand you don't want to risk (a) that being true and (b) them knowing it's true. FWIW in my situation I would absolutely work with an employee who said that was their plan, rather than even think about letting them go, but again this means tidbit nothing for you.
posted by mark k at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2016


It is extremely common for women to go on leave and come back very shortly to give notice, then leave for good. The truth is that even if there is an intent to come back, things change when you have a baby. The same is true for new dads.

Take the leave. Go back, and the day you go back, tell your boss, "I didn't realize how much having a baby changes things. I reevaluated what I really wanted in my life while I was spending time with my wife and son last month. The fact is that I need to make a big change to live the life I want to live, and that means resigning from this job so I can dedicate more time to my family. My last day will be X."

The best part is, it's true. You'll be cutting your commute time by 90%. That's more time with your family.

If you can figure out a way to make it two weeks, like starting the leave the last week of June rather than the first week of July, so that you could give a full two weeks when you come back, that would be nice for your company.
posted by juniperesque at 8:14 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


So as randomkeystrike says its very dependent on the situation, but if someone in my group did this to me I would not concede they played fair at all. We do medium sized projects and we get around a month's leave for someone by delaying deliveries, turning down requests, promising to get to it when so-and-so gets back, and so on. So for me this would leave me feeling you misrepresented things when I planned for your 4 weeks off.

I work for a company that works-to-project a lot, too. Perhaps to clarify - when I said "what are the norms in your industry," this is exactly what I had in mind. If one plays a unique role in a company, such that they will have to recruit and/or train your replacement, I'd lean more toward at least 2 week notice. Largely because I would feel more secure that I would indeed get paid for those two weeks.

Balancing this are two facts:
- I've never, ever had someone take off a month (especially due to a change in family situation) without having a feeling they might not come back, and trying to have a plan to cope with it if they did.

- Some industries don't take 2 week notices, especially in a situation like this. "Well, we're already in the groove with the person who replaced you for a month, so cya." If you're an at-will employee, they can do that in most situations. So now you've got a new job in 2 weeks and an unpaid vacation... this can be very hard financially, as there are often expenses and delays getting first paychecks with new companies.

- as for "playing fair," I just keep coming back to the fact that there isn't one company in a thousand that will be totally transparent with an employee about upcoming plans to lay them off if work or cash doesn't come in. That's just not how it works. "Say, key people, you might want to really talk to recruiters this month, because there's a 50% chance we don't get enough work in next month." So - sauce for the goose...
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:56 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


you had to be careful not to end up owing your company for benefits they paid out while you were on leave if you quit right when you got back. I can't believe randomkeystrike would not have mentioned this if it were still true, because it is kind of a big deal...but maybe double check?

That would be an individual company policy. We don't do that, but I'd agree it's a good thing to double-check.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2016


Thanks, everyone, for all the thoughtful answers.

As it turns out, my wife has to be back to work the last week in July, which means even if I take the leave we will still return in time to give a full two-weeks notice. I think that is what I am going to do.

I can wrap up what I'm currently working on before then, or at least get into a state where it can easily be handed off (I will probably spend much of my remaining time working on neglected documentation, to make that more seamless.), so I won't be leaving my employer in too much of a lurch.

Pretty sure we don't have any sort of claw-back on benefits, but I will review all the pertinent policies.
posted by zen_spider at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2016


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