need to change either new job start date, or old job quit date
March 23, 2021 7:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm starting a new job in 3 weeks, I told my old job to pay out my vacation instead of letting me take it, which was a mistake. I gave them 3 weeks notice. Now my old boss gives what feels like a huge unmanageable pile of work to me to complete in the next 3 weeks. What to do?

Job offer for new job took months to arrive. Old job asks for 4 weeks notice. Because new job offer final paperwork took so long to arrive, I was only able to give 3 weeks notice, which does not give me any time off before new job starts.

But I had a week of vacation left which I was planning to use. I let myself be guilted into saying they could pay out the vacation pay instead of letting me take the last week off. It's a small non profit.

Now today my old boss has sent me a huge list of things to accomplish before I leave old job in 2.5 weeks, which will make me even more burned out before i start new job. These would be normal tasks for me to accomplish if i was working there, except, since i'm leaving there will be more loose ends to tie up, and I'll have to take time to return my equipment to the office, gather my things, complete correspondence emails and etc. Normal things you would do when leaving a job. But old boss wants me to keep working at the same pace as usual right until my very last day.

I'm already burned out like everyone else is from this pandemic. I feel the list old boss sent is a threat, and if I don't accomplish everything on that list, old boss will somehow prevent me from getting paid my vacation time. (I'm feeling so paranoid about this whole situation... I don't know if boss can actually do this).

So would it be better to tell old boss I changed my mind about the last week and I want to take it as vacation? Or ask new job to move start date? ( I really don't want to do that).

I don't want to start my new job in a bad state of mind, with no motivation and bad concentration. But I let myself be guilted into staying longer at the old job and that agreement has been made. Are there big consequences to changing it?
posted by winterportage to Work & Money (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would simply...not complete the list of tasks and not take on any stress at all about it? Do what you can do in the time you have, focus on winding down, not starting anything new, and leave a clear list of what remains on the to-do list on your last day. What are they gonna do, fire you? No, they cannot take back your compensation of time or $ based on a to-do list, but at the same time, I'd get this arrangement in writing if you don't have it already.
posted by kapers at 8:03 PM on March 23, 2021 [72 favorites]

Ignore your boss' "new" requests.

What's he gonna do? Fire you? :-)

If you have any PTO time or sick time, take them now. Even unpaid.

One last idea, if it's that bad: invoke FMLA and take care of family member.
posted by kschang at 8:06 PM on March 23, 2021 [11 favorites]

Your old boss gave you a wish list? You aren't Santa, and the three weeks is already a very generous gift to your old organization. Set a gentle pace for yourself as you finish up, push back if they pressure you about this ridiculous list, and delegate whenever possible. Congratulations on your new job!
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:10 PM on March 23, 2021 [14 favorites]

I'd absolutely claw back that vacation week, and I'd absolutely start working a straight 40 hours with no overtime, no working at home or at night or early or through lunch or whatever. You can choose to say to your boss "I have X amount of time. I will not be able to finish A through Z in that time frame. How would you like me to prioritize these tasks?" Or you can just do what you can, and then walk away. You don't have to tie yourself in knots to satisfy a boss at a job you'll no longer be working at.

Memorize the phrase "I'm afraid that won't be possible. How would you like me to proceed with the time available?" Keep repeating as necessary.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:15 PM on March 23, 2021 [30 favorites]

What jerks!!
I mean you graciously agreed to give up a week of vacation time and they are showing absolutely no gratitude or kindness.
I am hoping you can pump yourself up enough tell your boss that you’ve realized that you are no longer able to stay for three weeks.
Seriously- it is not worth jeopardizing your short term mental health for them.

If you just don’t think you can stand up to them I do hope you can at least call out sick for a few of the days in the last week.
posted by calgirl at 8:28 PM on March 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

I too would tell the current boss that you've realized just how burned out the pandemic has made you, and you're going to take the week of vacation time after all. And then yeah, do the best you can in the final two weeks to get work done and not leave an loose ends, but if you don't finish everything because they gave you too much to do, that's not your fault. Good luck.
posted by coffeecat at 9:08 PM on March 23, 2021 [13 favorites]

Check your rights where you live to get your accrued vacation time. I think you'll find the company is legally required to pay you when you leave. If you aren't sure, you can post here and I'm sure someone can confirm for you.

Most companies that I know require that you get your boss's approval before you take vacation time in which case you can't just announce that you are taking vacation instead. Although you might be able to move up your departure date by a week to the same effect. (Double check that one with someone who actually knows about labor law - I'm just a random internet stranger.)

At the same time (especially if you have the reassurance that your vacation pay can't be held back), you should feel comfortable just doing what you can to leave things in decent shape when you go. As BlahLaLa said, "Memorize the phrase "I'm afraid that won't be possible. How would you like me to proceed with the time available?" Keep repeating as necessary."
posted by metahawk at 9:22 PM on March 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

To answer your question in the title: absolutely do not move your new job start date, which was a part of your offer/acceptance. Looks bad to go back on such a basic agreement absent extenuating circumstances, and it's extremely difficult to recover from a negative impression so early on.

Unfortunately, because you say 2.5 weeks, I assume it's already too late to change your mind about that last week off as well--many policies say vacation time needs pre-approval with 2 weeks' notice. Though you say you felt guilted into it, this was your choice and part of your agreement with your current employer. I wouldn't mess with that. I assume you'll want to preserve your reputation somewhat in case you ever need recommendations or in case your industry is small, gossipy, or tight-knit.

I think the stress of your current workplace is overloading you. Just detach, breathe through these last weeks, because this isn't your problem anymore. Keep thinking of how you're OUTTA there in x days (countdown starts now!) You can only do what you can do in that time.
posted by kapers at 9:26 PM on March 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

What's your old boss going to do if you don't complete everything on the list? Fire you?

Do a reasonable amount of work at a pace that won't burn you out and then leave. It's not your fault that your employer chose to not hire enough people.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:03 PM on March 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Both sides have compromised here: you've agreed to take pay in lieu of time off, and your employer has agreed to three weeks' notice instead of four. The result is that you're actually working the same amount of time your employer would have expected (assuming that if you'd given four weeks' notice, they wouldn't have had any issue with your taking the vacation time off), but both sides are feeling a bit put out and stressed. Plus, you know, pandemic.

Put up a calendar in the room you work in. Cross off the days as they go.

Do what you can in the next two weeks without wearing yourself out. Wind down and tie up the loose ends over the last 2-3 days. Hand over your laptop with a flourish at 5pm on the Friday, walk out the door and never look back.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:07 AM on March 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Waste as little time as possible on managing your soon-to-be-ex boss’s emotions. If you can, be kind like they are a demanding but loveable auntie, because it will lighten your mood. (Not for them.) Drop compliments to them if you can, it changes the power dynamic and will weirdly make you feel more in control.

Call in sick (‘food poisoning’) your last Monday there, creating a long weekend. I rarely recommend this but it’s fine in this situation.

Work just your hours, with a good lunch break (get outside if you can!) and leaving right on time. Email your boss progress reports every couple of days, keep them 100% factual. It’s not on you to get these things done, just to work the hours you are getting paid.

Use headphones if you can to create a joyful atmosphere with music, audiobooks, whatever floats your boat. If you’re physically in the office, indulge in your last favourite lunches. If you’re working from home, enjoy the slack; get your laundry etc done on work time. Fold clothes and wipe counters during calls if you don’t have Zoom on. Avoid unnecessary meetings.

Leave in good conscience even if your work’s not quite done. If your guilt is related to others (clients/etc) just be extra nice. If it’s to coworkers, on your last day drop them a note saying how much you’ve enjoyed their insight/solutions/organization etc. That will far outlast anything undone.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:36 AM on March 24, 2021 [8 favorites]

I came to say what kschang said. What are they gonna do if you don’t do all the work? Fire you?
posted by kevinbelt at 4:36 AM on March 24, 2021

Right, what everyone else said. Get what you can done, working your normal hours at a reasonable level of intensity. If that doesn’t mean you complete everything on your boss’s wish list, that’s a shame for them, but they don’t realistically have power to impose any consequences on you.
posted by LizardBreath at 4:49 AM on March 24, 2021

From old boss's perspective, asking you to do a shitton of work has no downside. You're already leaving. They have no reason to handle you with kid gloves. Any "over and above" they get by guilt-tripping you is strictly bonus. Yes, it's entirely Machiavellian.

You can respond in kind. Do only what you agreed to do as part of your normal schedule, work at a comfortable pace, tie up what you can, and nod, smile and ignore when old boss tries to manipulate you further.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:59 AM on March 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ask A Manager has a couple of good scripts to use (and helpful advice on adjusting your mindset!):

my boss is overloading me with work during my notice period

since I gave notice, my boss has tripled my workload

How reasonable is your boss, typically, outside of this situation? Is there HR? Is the non-profit part of a parent organization? Not paying out your PTO is a VERY BAD LOOK and, depending on where you live, could land them in legal trouble.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:51 AM on March 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

There’s lots of good advice here, and the only thing I would add is that the expectation of four weeks’ notice is patently unreasonable. Two weeks is the norm in the US and new employers are likely to be frustrated if they have to wait that long for you to start. Please add this to the list of reasons why your old job is asking too much!
posted by slmorri at 6:00 AM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Continue with your original plan, work through the 3 weeks and get your vacation pay. I don't think I've every had someone leave a job and NOT leave behind things I hoped they would do. I once had a teacher disappear on the last day of school and leave all of his final exams ungraded with absolutely no indication that he was resigning or even unhappy. Just literally disappeared to the point where I called his emergency contact because I thought something happened.

This is the time that you should feel no stress. Whatever doesn't get done is their problem. Show up every day with a big smile that says "Y'all are only relevant to me for X more days!"

Congrats on the new job!
posted by archimago at 6:29 AM on March 24, 2021

You're leaving. He knows you're leaving. He's just trying to get as much out of you as possible before you leave, and he seems like he's being extra-shitty about it.

OldJob has nothing to lose by piling on a bunch before you leave. You also have nothing to gain by scrambling to try to finish it all.

Break the jobs up into smaller manageable bits, do only what you comfortably can in the next three weeks (working standard days, not extra-long days, and definitely TAKE YOUR BREAKS), do handoffs to others or to your boss in the final week of these projects, and...leave with a clean conscience.

If you want to be super-professional about it, you can tell your boss at the end of each week what you've been able to complete and what you are going to focus on next. Change focus if he asks, but don't stress about completing everything in the pile and don't promise to complete any specific thing in the time you have left.

DO NOT change your leave date, nor your start date at your new job. You've told them you're leaving - so it's not like this is going to be a huge surprise.

I agree with just about everyone who's already posted in this thread.
posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 9:21 AM on March 24, 2021

You are likely not bound by that three weeks of notice, you know. Confirm that your pto is legally required to be paid and then just... don't turn up. Or, more gracefully, point out what you've reconsidered and decided to offer them two weeks, which is still two weeks more than is absolutely necessary, and claim your last week back as inter-job time.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 8:47 PM on March 24, 2021

Response by poster: How reasonable is your boss, typically, outside of this situation?

Not reasonable. If I try the "smile and nod" technique or the "that won't be possible" technique, my boss will counter argue me why it is possible and I wont know what to say because I don't want to get in a shouting match. She also tried to convince me that I didnt need to tell the truth in my exit interview and that I should instead provide her with "feedback" during my final meeting with her. Luckily I'm going to report that to HR.
posted by winterportage at 5:57 PM on March 26, 2021

« Older Continue watching the show Scrubs?   |   Please help me find storage of a very particular... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.