How Should I Leave This Job (Covid-19 edition)?
March 20, 2020 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm a cashier at a grocery store. I am also in a higher risk group to get Covid-19 because of a pre-existing health issue, and I live with two people who are also at higher risk because of age/health.

I have been planning to quit this job for awhile now, specifically intending to hand in my two week notice on Saturday. (I have some freelance writing work lined up).

Given the coronavirus, however, I am uneasy about spending two more weeks working in an environment just made for virus transmission (handling cash in and of itself, hand to hand contact when taking payment/giving change, handling items that have been touched by numerous people, and so forth).

How terrible would it be to just up and quit without giving them a notice period?

For context (yes, there's more!) I have had a weird work history for the last decade, not working for years because of mental health issues, and looking after my mother before she died, with some seasonal retail and freelance writing after that. My references are pretty old, and I'd like to be able to use this job as an additional reference, even though it isn't a professional position. Seems unlikely I can do that if I just quit, without notice.

I feel that my my life and health are definitely a higher priority than this job, and I need to do what's best for me, but just outright quitting is just not something I would ever do otherwise.

So, quit with two weeks notice? or quit with no notice?
posted by Archipelago to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In accordance with CDC Guidelines at, I will be unable to continue working at XYZ until the guidelines are changed. I have X hours of sick time and Y hours of vacation time that I need to use. I hope everyone stays well. Best, Archipelago

You may be eligible for unemployment comp until you have new work/income. Employers lay off workers with no thought of the personal consequences to those workers, and you should feel free to treat an employer just the same. Be courteous, return any tools, etc., but take care of yourself and your loved ones.
posted by theora55 at 11:07 AM on March 20 [21 favorites]

There's a third option here, where you explain to your manager that you are at risk, that your roommates are high risk, and that you want to do right by your employer, but you are going to need to resign in the face of an undetermined length pandemic. Can they accommodate you in a lower risk capacity (e.g., sanitizing the store or stocking after hours) over your last two weeks, or is it best that you part ways now and take care of your health? Be prepared with what you'd expect in terms of accommodation to work two weeks and hold firm to your position.

If you just quit, from their perspective you're abandoning them in a time of need. If you have a conversation, you're humanizing the decision, and probably get that reference.
posted by bfranklin at 11:12 AM on March 20 [45 favorites]

Definitely don’t worry about your employer. More than 2 million people lost their jobs this week. They will be able to fill your position.
posted by juliapangolin at 11:46 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]

They wouldn't give you 2 weeks notice if they fired you, so don't feel guilty about leaving now.
posted by thatone at 12:47 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

I think if you explain to a future prospective employer that you had to quit with no notice because of COVID-19, they will understand and not even think twice about it. Anyone who would have a problem with it is someone you wouldn’t want to work for anyway.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:55 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]

I was prepared to quit my job (adjunct supervising university teaching practicum two days in public schools) if the schools hadn't closed and the university hadn't sent the students home and gone online. I'm high risk and my partner is higher risk. I probably stayed two days too long, honestly, and I'd hate to think I died or infected my partner for a job. I explained as much to my supervisor, and she used my info to help persuade the school of education to give up on the idea of sending the college students into schools.

Not saying your situation will come out right. They may be unhappy with you. But honestly there are plenty of lower-risk people who will want your job right now, because they've just lost other ones.
posted by Peach at 6:31 PM on March 20

Thanks for all your help, folks.

Talked to work, they were very understanding, said you don't have to quit, you can self isolate as long as you need to and then come back.

I left it at that, figuring I'll tell them later that I found some WFH work, and not to expect me back. That lets me have more of a graceful departure & preserve the relationship.
posted by Archipelago at 9:42 AM on March 21 [6 favorites]

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