Holiday job change ethics
December 19, 2016 4:37 AM   Subscribe

Are all two-week-notices created equal?

If the stars align, I'll get a new job offer sometime in the next few days. I will give notice as soon as it's remotely possible, and that would mean my final 2 week period would end sometime in the first week of January. There are multiple holidays in this timeframe, as well as lots of vacation days being taken by those who work in my area. (I am likely to be the only one actively working on the days that are not our official company-mandated paid holidays over the Xmas-New Year's period.)

Does anything require me to take that into account? Meaning, am I obligated in any real way (other than perceived fair-mindedness or "greater good"-type fellow feeling) to push my exit period to beyond a literal 2 weeks in order to account for the fact that those actual weeks will include so much holiday time, and time where it's not possible to transition work to others or work on offloading projects due to all the departmental vacations?

That being said- I would LOVE to end things before the new year and avoid the messiness of having one measly week still on the books at Old Company. What if I only give one week notice? Part of me hopes they will just say "don't let the door hit you" and I'll be spared ANY of the awkward pre-departure period. (I'd love to just GTFO and walk away.) But I am not sure if that will happen. It's possible, but also possible that a revenge mentality will take over on Old Company's side, and they'll want to chain me to a desk and make me write reams of documentation until the last nanosecond of the last day ticks to a painful close.

(I know location may be helpful to know but I don't want to risk revealing it. It's... a midwestern state where it's really cold out right now.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is a job, not slavery, so you can leave whenever you want; however it may impact you later in terms of getting references or if you are in a small insular industry. Since you already have a job lined up, I assume references won't be a big issue for you.
posted by saucysault at 4:54 AM on December 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Do you think that if the position were reversed, and the company was going to fire you, they would arrange the notice period in a way that helps you out? Would they delay firing you to help your job search? The company decided you'd have a 2 week notice period, they signed the contract as well as you. If that's the notice period, that's the notice period, even if it makes it a hassle for them.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:58 AM on December 19, 2016 [17 favorites]

It's also up to the company to validate holiday requests - if they've let so many people go on holiday that one single person not being there screws everything up, then that's their own fault. You could just as easily fall ill during the time you're supposed to be there, and if that causes problems then they shouldn't have under-staffed themselves.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:00 AM on December 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you do work a few days in 2017 for your current employer, it will take about 15 more seconds in doing your taxes to enter a W2 for small amounts of money. So I wouldn't worry about that.

A lot of my standard advice is already given above. Another observation is - it's never a "good" time for someone to quit. There will always be something going on. So find the day that is two weeks out on the calendar and tell them that's that.

Chores given to those on the way out *are* often tedious, by their nature. You can't really work on things that are going forward, so it tends to be documentation, filing, and the like. I wouldn't advocate doing a bad job on it, but neither would I feel any pressure to "complete" it. Work 8 hour days, take lunch and breaks, and when two weeks go by, you get to drive up a stake in it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:30 AM on December 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

The company decided you'd have a 2 week notice period, they signed the contract as well as you

I didn't see any mention of a contract. If anon is in a work-for-hire state and has no employment agreement with the company, they are free to walk out at any time they want.

The fact anon asks "can they push my last date beyond the 2 weeks to help clean up?" kind of tells me this isn't a contract situation.

My advice: document and prepare as well as you can prior to the offer. Make sure the offer is solid and in writing. Do not go on a verbal offer.

If the departing company makes life hard for you in the notice period, even one snide comment from a manager or executive - walk. Like others have said, you don't owe them a thing. You can depart any time you want without repercussions.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:31 AM on December 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

You're not obligated to take the recess into account, and you don't owe your job anything. Especially if they've treated you poorly, I wouldn't worry about it.

However, if you've had a good experience with your manager, you may consider offering to come back after the holidays. They may very well also want to wrap things up by year end and not take you up on it, but in that case you'll likely have mitigated some of the impact of the short notice by offering. One of my employees leaving a key position just did gave an effective four days of notice due to upcoming holidays without offering a longer notice and while I wish him well, it's definitely caused him to depart on a more sour note than I imagine he wanted.
posted by superfluousm at 6:01 AM on December 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Two weeks notice is a courtesy and not a legal obligation in most cases in the US. Giving notice in the middle of the holidays is likely to leave them in a bit of a lurch and while that isn't your problem per se it does mean that your former coworkers are going to remember you for having done so. What are they chances that they'll ever talk with someone thinking of hiring you down the line?
posted by Candleman at 6:06 AM on December 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

This is me retyping EndsOfInventions answers. Read your contract, and abide by its text. It's unlikely your employer would be considering your feelings were the roles reversed.

Of course, if you're in the US in one of these 'right-to-work' abominations, then apparently you have even fewer obligations.
posted by pompomtom at 6:37 AM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

What basically everyone else said - if you really like your employer or bosses AND its possible to accommodate a slightly longer transition period over the holidays go for it, if not, look out for yourself first as long as you are abiding the language in any documents you may have signed.

Seriously, though, think of it as the flip side of every time an employer fired someone right before the holidays (which also happens plenty).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:50 AM on December 19, 2016

As a manager, I've never had anybody give 2 weeks (or less) in any scenario, even our busiest and most stressful, that was a surprise or bad enough to consider a bridge burned. Usually folks who are unhappy enough to leave are not performing at the top of their game and it's just time for them to go.

However, I have had coworkers leave in busy times with little notice and that definitely made my life harder. I only have held it against people that knew how screwed I'd be and made no effort to help set me up to succeed or even acknowledge it. That can be irrespective of how much notice you give.

If I were your coworker and I came back from holidays to find you were gone with only a week's notice without even saying goodbye, all would be forgiven if you left me a card and useful documentation to help me move forward. If your coworker will really have a rough go of it at first I'd toss in a Starbucks gift card, too.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:53 AM on December 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think you should just give your two weeks notice and let the cards fall where they may. It's just the right thing to do. But get all your ducks in a row beforehand, because I would bet money there's a conversation higher up about whether they can cut you loose immediately. And they probably can't, due to you covering the holiday period. So just consider that your last "gift" to them.
posted by raisingsand at 8:53 AM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

That being said- I would LOVE to end things before the new year and avoid the messiness of having one measly week still on the books at Old Company.

Something to add here, since you asked "what if I give one week's notice?".

If you're on the verge of a job offer and you've been in tight communication with H/R there, perhaps ask if there's a benefit to getting on their employment rolls before January 1st 2017.

In some jobs I've taken, things like health insurance don't kick in until the first of the month after your start date. I don't know if the ACA has changed any of this, but since you're changing jobs right at the end of the calendar year you might want to be sure there are no gaps in coverage.

(Personally, I'd give one week's notice anyway and enjoy some peace and quiet between jobs if you have the financial means to coast for a week. Everyone deserves a mental health break between jobs if possible).
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:55 AM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Honestly, the trend I've seen is companies will show you the door as soon as you give your two-week notice anyway. They see it as a negative to have an outgoing employ hang around for two weeks. The only caveat is they might want you to hang around to train your replacement.

Unless you signed a contract that states you must give them two-week's notice, you're free to go asap.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:04 AM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did this myself. I gave notice with two weeks left in the year. (Basically today, but years ago.) The boss was extremely petty and asked me to come in the first two days of the new year too, so that she got "a full two weeks" from me. Which was absurd, being that the end of the year and first week of the new year were always dead. But that's the extremely petty that I mentioned earlier. (She actually went back on that later, probably realizing that the paperwork was easier if I was not there for 2 days in the next calendar year.)

I suggest giving notice as soon as you are able and making it a friendly conversation if possible. Keeping in mind:
1. you aren't legally obligated to give 2 weeks notice
2. the last two weeks of the year and first week of the year are often very slow at most companies
3. it may be easier for them to have you off the books for the new year
4. everything is negotiable

You can probably give less than two weeks notice and it won't be an issue at all. Bonus points if you can word in a way that they suggest the idea.
posted by Cranialtorque at 1:57 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Basically gave my two week's notice this time last year. I didn't get holiday pay for Christmas (which was bullshit) or New Year's (which I fully understood) because I didn't work 5 days before and after each holiday. But that was the only real downside.
posted by theichibun at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2016

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