Giving notice during business trip
August 29, 2016 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Continuation of previous questions - husband was offered a new job, wants to take it, but is currently in France on a business trip. New job offered prorated signing bonus - if he starts in 2 weeks he gets 7K, if he starts in 4 weeks he gets 5K. He wants to give as close to 2 weeks notice as possible with old job so as to not burn bridges, but 2K difference is a pretty good incentive. So he's thinking of giving notice tomorrow and finishing out the trip, coming back this Thursday, and then finishing out the rest of the notice period at the home office. Is it an incredibly bad idea to give notice while travelling? Could they refuse to reimburse him for travel expenses / cancel his ticket / make life miserable, legally speaking?

He thinks they probably would not fire him on the spot, because they need him to wrap up projects / document stuff as much as possible. It would not be a problem income wise if they did fire him, as long as he could still get home and get business expenses already incurred reimbursed.

The other wrinkle (although perhaps less important) is that he had a relocation agreement alluded to in his offer letter for him to work at the company for 18 months or he would have to pay back relocation expenses on a graduated basis, and he'll be at about 17.5 months if he quits in time to get the higher sign-up bonus, the lower sign-up bonus would put him 3 days short of 18 months. However, it turns out that the incompetent HR at his company never sent him the relocation agreement setting out the terms, and never noticed it wasn't signed until he asked to see it today, because we couldn't find a record of it in our documents that he signed. I think they would not have a legal leg to stand on to ask for any repayment because he never saw it or signed it before we moved.

He is also thinking of offering to be available to answer questions that may come up (via e-mail) for a period of a week or two after starting the new job, as a courtesy for a slightly less useful notice period, or offering to work the weekend after getting back.
posted by permiechickie to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ehh, given the relocation thing, he should wait. I don't care what you did or didn't sign, it sounds like they paid for the move with an implicit or explicit agreement that he'd stay 18 months. Yeah, maybe you can prevail in a lawsuit -- but that's where it'll be headed.

Otherwise I'd say go for it. Just put in another 2 weeks, or whatever.
posted by so fucking future at 6:02 PM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you guys are genuinely worried about this level of nickel and diming, I would let the extra $2000 go.
posted by Sara C. at 6:05 PM on August 29, 2016 [15 favorites]

Counter with "I'll start in 3 weeks for 6k." That way he gets the bonus, finishes 18 months to cover relocation , and can wait to give two weeks notice until after he gets back from the trip.
posted by Apoch at 6:05 PM on August 29, 2016 [16 favorites]

Response by poster: 4 weeks notice would be 3 calendar days short of the 18 month period, so to fully go around the relocation he'd have to ask for an even later start date
posted by permiechickie at 6:08 PM on August 29, 2016

What's his contractual notice period? Does he have one?

Notice while traveling would not make me angry as a manager, but two weeks notice would annoy me tremendously if it was a coworker with project responsibility. However, the notice period should be built somehow into the contract. Most reputable companies would not cut off his ticket or refuse to pay his expenses, but if he has a longer notice period and is only giving two weeks then angry people can do angry things.

Regarding the relocation agreement, it depends a bit on if it counts as compensation or as employee benefits. Most benefits manuals are written under "change without notice" conditions and that may mean (depending on where you live ) that this is enforceable whether you sign it or not. If it has real financial impact, probably not. However, they might just claw it back out of his salary and leave it to you to fight it out in court. Are you willing to go to court over it? How little do you care about bridges being burned?

2K is a lot of money, but your husband should weigh it against an angry and unreferenceable former employer. If there is a way to make nice, he should do that.

In his shoes, I would definitely make a call from France which would go like "Hey Sharon, sorry to do this to you over the phone, but I have received an offer for my dream job and I have decided to take it. I have been very happy here at Sharonscorp, but in the interest of furthering my career, this is a step I cannot afford to miss. My challenge is that they would like me to start two weeks after signing but I don't want to leave you in the lurch. What's the best way to do that? Should I fly home immediately?"

And then depending on the reaction, I would either stick with the two weeks or the four weeks and negotiate accordingly-- 7K minus goodwill minus relocation costs (and court costs?) minus a reference may not be that much better than 5k and leaving without scorched earth.
posted by frumiousb at 6:08 PM on August 29, 2016 [16 favorites]

Another thing to consider is that bonuses are usually taxed at 50% (much more above regular wages, even in lower tax brackets) if you are in the US. So, a 2,000 bonus is really worth 1,000 in your pocket, which might not be worth burning bridges for.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:14 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Another thing to consider is that bonuses are usually taxed at 50% (much more above regular wages, even in lower tax brackets) if you are in the US. So, a 2,000 bonus is really worth 1,000 in your pocket, which might not be worth burning bridges for.

That is not true. Show me evidence otherwise, but hiring bonuses are taxed as standard income.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2016 [12 favorites]

I'd go for the 4 weeks notice and just take three sick days to put him over the edge.

He can start at the new company during those three sick days to allow him to collect some part of the signing bonus.
posted by yellowcandy at 6:32 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

You said that the relocation for the old job would have to be paid back on a graduated basis, so he now only needs to pay back 1/18th of that money. That shouldn't be much of a factor in the decision.
posted by monotreme at 6:38 PM on August 29, 2016

Graduated basis meaning 3 out of 540 days? Pay it and move on. If it is 17 days out of 540, pay it and move on.
posted by AugustWest at 7:38 PM on August 29, 2016

Response by poster: The graduated basis (which was in the agreement he didn't see or sign) has 4 time periods to cut up the repayment. 13 to 18 months is 25% of the total.
posted by permiechickie at 7:39 PM on August 29, 2016

What about negotiating with the new company for the full bonus because he needs to stay at his current position until he fills his contractual obligation to them?
posted by MsMolly at 7:42 PM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Assuming that 25% of the relocation bonus is more than $2k, he should counter offer and say he will start in 5 weeks for a signing bonus of $5k. If they accept, this is the option that will cause the absolute smallest hassle for the two of you.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:55 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Think of the $5K as a reasonable signing bonus and the $2K as extra bonus for starting two weeks sooner. But nothing changes in 3 days, so neither should the $5K. I don't think it would be bad to tell the new company, "Hey, I have this relo thing..." and that it should still be the $5K. Everybody already knows they're willing to pay a bonus. Negotiate it as a starting work thing, not a countdown timer.
posted by rhizome at 10:32 PM on August 29, 2016

I would use frumiousb's script.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:35 AM on August 30, 2016

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