How do I deal with my current employer not respecting my decision to leave?

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28

I've worked for my current company for about 18 months now. Their primary market is consultancy - we get assigned clients, travel to their offices for the work week (from my experience this is usually around a three hour journey each way), and travel back for the weekend. These contracts are generally 3-4 months to begin with, and are often extended by a similar amount on a regular basis for as much as several years.

I'd had enough of the travel, so I looked for work elsewhere. I found a really promising position, but was also assigned a new client at my current job in the same week as the interview. As things transpired, I got the new job, and handed my notice in on the Monday of my second week with the new client.

Understandably, my current employer is very unhappy about this, and made it very clear that I was putting them in a terrible position. I'd hoped to find a new job before being given a new assignment, but I was a couple of weeks too late.

I've been asked to extend my notice period by a couple of weeks to support a handover period. Normally I'd have been fine with this, but my new employer wants me to start as soon as possible, and due to a number of circumstances (particularly with the holidays coming up), if I did meet their request I wouldn't be able to start the new job until the new year (effectively doubling my one month notice period).

As such I have a couple of questions:

  • I know they have no legal right to keep me there, but they've been trying to guilt me into staying for the last few days despite my insistence that I want to leave on the date I gave them. How do I deal with this and get them to accept my decision?

  • During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. Am I wrong for not doing so, given that I didn't want my standing in the company to be affected if I didn't get the job?

  • The difficulty with the handover period is that there isn't anyone available to replace me until after my suggested final date. I don't want to leave the company in a bad position, but staying would put my new job at risk before I even start. How can I make my current employer happy in this regard?

jardantuan

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 1 063

37What country is this? US?MikeP 2016-11-09T20:31:26.247

26When you turned in your resignation, did you include anything other than "I resign effective <date>"? That's all you need, in the US.MikeP 2016-11-09T20:32:38.483

3Do you have a contract with them about this, or are they just going to be 'out' a key person?MikeP 2016-11-09T20:33:05.810

3What does your current contract say? This is most likely the answer to your question.Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen 2016-11-09T21:57:47.510

4In India, there are release papers that can make it very difficult to get employed without, even with an offer in hand.corsiKa 2016-11-09T23:00:26.613

56If they decided to treat you like dirt, then treat them like dirt. If you really want to annoy them, suggest that you might be prepared to reconsider the situation if they are prepared to pay you the full hourly fee they charge their clients, plus 50% for the inconvenience they are causing you - I assume you can easily find out what that rate actually is. And if they agree to do that, you can still change your mind and turn down their offer!alephzero 2016-11-09T23:25:21.050

1@alephzero Considering the new employer wants OP to start as soon as possible and the old employer is treating OP like dirt, perhaps the thing to do is to contract the notice period, resign immediately, and start working for the new employer (or take some time off).emory 2016-11-10T09:43:18.157

91"I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. " -- Yeah, so they could fire you.Jonast92 2016-11-10T11:31:47.810

49(a) You were under no obligation to tell your old employer you were job-searching or interviewing. (b) Your notice period is not for your old employer to find a replacement. It's for you to have time to wrap things up so they're in order for your replacement and/or your old coworkers to pick up. In your case, that probably means leaving good records of what you were doing on this project and where to go from there.MissMonicaE 2016-11-10T13:21:19.913

5If your old employer is Really desperate, you can suggest they contact the new employer - and offer them money to subcontract you back. Since they are inconveniencing the new company, the financial compensation would need to be significant.Alan Campbell 2016-11-10T13:35:54.940

12Notice periods exist for a reason. If your company can't replace you during yours, they should have considered that when drawing up the contract.Ant P 2016-11-10T14:42:43.870

2@AlanCampbell not a good idea. Current employer might badmouth OP.GustavoMP 2016-11-10T18:47:24.990

7I find "informing current employer that you're looking for a new job" absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, how did they even expect that from an employee? I guess they are just trying to trick you into believing that you're at fault here, which you clearly aren't.asprin 2016-11-11T05:28:29.117

2This is why running a body shop (a contract labor company) is so much fun. If your boss had said, even once during your tenure, "how's it going?" he might have known you were having problems with the travel schedule.O. Jones 2016-11-11T07:01:04.410

3If they need more than X weeks notice to make their business run then they need to write X weeks notice into the contract of employment. Simple as that, anything else is incompetence on their part and you shouldn't be expected to make up for that.Flexo 2016-11-11T08:57:33.167

Wouldn't it be a sign to the new employer, that you are a more reliable employee, if you stay with the current employer for a pre-determined period of time, to avoid inconveniencing the current employer? If the new employer really cannot wait this long, then there is a chance the position will be filled by someone else in the interim though.George Bailey 2016-11-11T14:30:20.863

7I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment A.K.A. if we knew you were going to quit, we would have fired you to save a few bucks.Brandon 2016-11-12T02:09:53.310

When I got laid off I was assured that it was "personal." Maybe it wasn't personal to the business, but It sure as hell was personal to me.MaxW 2016-11-13T04:19:46.873

1The stinks of emotional blackmail.Neil Meyer 2016-11-14T06:51:14.123

Whatever you do, do absolutely nothing that could possibly endanger your new position, or put any doubt at all in the minds of your new employers. And with that as a guiding principle, it's hard to see how you should do anything other than simply start your new position as planned.Grimm The Opiner 2016-11-16T09:42:59.957

You wanted to leave the company, would it hurt if you told your employer? IMO you could have handled this better.André Werlang 2016-11-16T22:03:36.077

1@GeorgeBailey: Any reasonable company knows that people look for a new job, sign a contract, give notice, in that order. The new company, if they are reasonable, expects you to do exactly that at some point in the future (unless you retire, die in a car crash, go to jail etc. ). They do most definitely not expect you to stay longer with your old company. That doesn't make you look reliable, it makes you look weird, and it means you are in breach of contract with the new company before you even start.gnasher729 2017-01-28T21:58:58.043

1@AndréWerlang: I suggest when you start looking for a new job, you tell your old employer, and when he fires you on the spot don't come crying here.gnasher729 2017-01-28T22:00:27.523

Answers

720

  • I know they have no legal right to keep me there, but they've been trying to guilt me into staying for the last few days despite my insistence that I want to leave on the date I gave them. How do I deal with this and get them to accept my decision?

Accepting your decision is their problem, not yours. What if the situation were reversed? If they decided to let you go, do you really think you would be able to "guilt them" into continuing to pay you for another month? Not likely.

  • During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. Am I wrong for not doing so, given that I didn't want my standing in the company to be affected if I didn't get the job?

Announcing that you're interviewing is career suicide. Expecting employees to do that is ridiculous, and it's their problem, not yours. You did everything right - don't say anything until you have accepted a signed written job offer with start dates and salary. (I'm assuming you did that)

  • The difficulty with the handover period is that there isn't anyone available to replace me until after my suggested final date. I don't want to leave the company in a bad position, but staying would put my new job at risk before I even start. How can I make my current employer happy in this regard?

You don't. Their lack of planning in accepting a bus factor of 1 is their problem, not yours.

Dan Pichelman

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 23 447

200You hit it hard here Dan. This is exactly how I'd have answered. If I could give more points, I would. Especially about the guilting.Xavier J 2016-11-09T20:36:12.850

36It's just ridiculous what some employers think their employees owe them. This is a great answer. I'm glad you found another position OP, since these people probably won't bat an eye firing you.Nelson 2016-11-10T01:39:42.210

26Their problem, not yours. Extremely valuable life advice.bubakazouba 2016-11-10T07:40:52.497

2Mind you, the OP's contract (or the laws in his country) might have specified they are required to note when they're seeking other employment. Weird, but possible. But I guess if that were the case, they would just present him with the (threat of) lawsuit instead of trying to guilt him into it.Luaan 2016-11-10T09:31:47.187

31It is crazy to me that the expected behavior of employees and employers are so different. If an employer fired an employee and the employee said "You should have told me you were considering firing me so that I could look for a new job, now I won't be able to get a new job before this one ends" they would be laughed out of the office, but when an employer says the equivalent, it seems kind of normal.Kevin Wells 2016-11-10T19:26:33.497

1@KevinWells This. Anyone who would seriously make that suggestion is trying to take advantage of the OP. Any moral (non-legal) obligation the OP may have had ceased at that point.Jørgen Fogh 2016-11-11T11:32:36.343

The bus argument is obvious. I wonder if the managment is incompetent, or conciously tries to use the short-term contracts as a one-edge sword against employees. I would have no moral doubts had I suspected it.luk32 2016-11-12T16:26:49.343

2I'll also point out that it is the manger's job to be sure that no single employee is "irreplaceable." What would happen to the company if you had been killed in a car accident? You're dead. It is the company's problem to back-fill for you.MaxW 2016-11-13T04:16:55.227

4I would only add that it is a good idea to let the company know that you understand and appreciate that this may place them in a difficult position. It is their problem, and probably also their fault, but a little empathy is about as much as you offer them.David Baucum 2016-11-13T16:52:55.063

@KevinWells no employer should act like "we're considering firing you", this would certainly sounds as a threatAndré Werlang 2016-11-16T21:55:45.123

Sharing with your company you want to look elsewhere improves collaboration, IMO. OP wanted to leave anyway. I once told I had an interview, didn't get the job, and ended up leaving the company...some 5 years after. Another direct report of mine did the same thing and still works at the company. OTOH, an employee that wants to leave but don't, I can only imagine how bad at work they should be.André Werlang 2016-11-16T22:01:11.143

91

Whenever they bring up the subject of extending your notice period or start another guilt trip, here's what you say:

I realise that the timing isn't ideal but I'm unable to extend my notice period and my final day will be the Xth.

Repeat this ad nauseam. Anything else will just result in debate or arguments that you don't want to engage in. The goal is to get them to see reason but you'll have to recognise the possibility that your management is so unreasonable that sticking to your guns will sour the relationship or ruin your reference. But there's nothing else to be done about that. Starting the relationship with your new employer off well is more important.

Dan already explained just how unreasonable your company's actions were but in the end it just comes down to the simple fact that staff turnover is just a cost of doing business. There will never be a "perfect" time to resign. Great companies encourage longer notice periods but it's obvious from what you've described that you're not working for such a company and even if that were the case, there will always be situations where someone gives limited notice or can't work around a business deadline. It happens.

One final note to make is that a notice period is most certainly not intended to train your replacement. A hiring process will almost never be over in two weeks and that time should instead go to finishing up your projects, preparing documentation or handing work over to a colleague. In a consultancy the latter part is easier but even then resigning employees can never be expected to extend a notice period to provide additional training.

Lilienthal

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 54 098

Also, keep copies of all communications regarding this matter, and any that might be relevant before it became said matter, in the event they try to elevate the matter. It's very doubtful they'll go that route, especially if OP lives in a state with at-will employment and broke no parts of any contract agreements, but all the same: cover your ass.MattD 2016-11-14T19:03:30.850

I would disagree that great companies encourage longer notice. There is no benefit to longer notices that I have ever seen. Most of the time, they still don't have your replacement and all you did was waste time. Further having a disgruntled emplyee around for longer means more time for them to spread their disgruntlement. Further there is zero benefit to the emplyee in a longer period,HLGEM 2017-01-27T14:46:59.043

38

During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. Am I wrong for not doing so, given that I didn't want my standing in the company to be affected if I didn't get the job?

No, it wasn't wrong.

But unlike the others answers I would say "it depends".

Before I quit my previous company, I told my boss straightly that I wanted to quit. He asked me to stay until at least N months from now, giving me a substantial raise for doing so.

Once the N months passed, I found a new job; and kept working until I got a visa, then left as soon as I got it.

By talking to my boss, I was able to leave in very good terms, and with substantial advantages over simply resigning without discussing it first.

However, I was fairly confident that my boss would not try to screw me over that. So depending on your situation, it could be a good move.

In case of doubt, don't

Antzi

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 481

13I agree that in some cases letting your employer know you wish/plan to leave might be a positive thing. But there is not "it depends" on the question of whether the OP has an obligation to tell the employer. There is no such obligation. – None – 2016-11-10T08:57:47.430

3

@dan1111 "should" doesn't mean "obliged to". +1 on your comment though, it's clear that this strategy wouldn't work with this employer.

rath 2016-11-11T16:02:50.187

@rath I interpreted the question as HR claiming there was an obligation. "Should" often means "must" in less formal communication. But I suppose there is more ambiguity there than I first saw. – None – 2016-11-11T16:11:26.017

13

You suffer the same problem that I do: loyalty. You don't want to inconvenience people, you don't like making things difficult for them, you feel guilty if you let them down. Loyalty is a great virtue and it's something I really value in other people. But loyalty to an employer always needs to be conditional. It's unlikely they would show much loyalty to you if the situation was the other way around. Even if that's not the case, this is a situation where you have to put your own interests first.

Michael Kay

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 943

5A company itself can not be loyal only people in the company can. However the more people you have the less likely it is that the comppany is going to be loyal.joojaa 2016-11-11T13:50:27.130

@joojaa it's okay to attribute human characteristics or behaviour to a company.Christiaan Westerbeek 2016-11-12T06:47:34.963

8

All of this seems fairly obvious; it is the employers problem not yours, this is a cost of doing business and most companies factor staff movements as a part of normal business practice. Re the statement "During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview" As an employee you are under NO obligations with this regard. Such matters are entirely your private business as it impacts your future therefore it is your own affair not theirs. Also worth noting that you would damage any future prospects that you may hold re your existing employer should you have been unsuccessful in your application with a new employer.

bill Wilson

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 101

3

Great answers here. Let me just add, highly accountable people sometimes have their integrity used against them.

Don't let your soon-to-be-former employer use your integrity against you.

Sure, your soon-to-be-former employer is in a bind. Sure, you want to be a professional. I promise you, you WILL continue to bump into former coworkers throughout your career, so being a professional is good.

But workers leave, they get sick, they get injured, they even die. Employers don't go the grave site and try to guilt the corpse. They get on with finding a replacement.

Decide on your personal boundary, then enforce that boundary with firmness that you express professionally and politely. You do NOT need to give reasons. The firmer you are, the better for everyone.

Thomas Cox

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 1 370

-2

From the employers side - it is hard to have 'extra staff' around to be available to fill in quickly.

Since there will be some time involved in getting a replacement (or a coworker to cover) perhaps you could offer to take the new job and then return for 1-3 days when the old employer has the new staff available. The new employer might balk at this but you could explain that you are trying to be flexible and loyal to your old employer. Since you would not likely be starting right away on a project at the new company you could go through the initial training required or the initial 'ride along' work. The time off (1-3 days) would be easier to fit in that way.

The new employer would likely see your loyalty as a plus for them moving forward; and the old employer would see how a mature handling of the issue would be of benefit in the future as well. Potentially employees (and HR) in the old or new company would see that there are ways to be loyal and not secretive.

JIM-Lex

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 5

6Would you take back ex-employees you fired for a few days here and there if they could not find a job and needed some money to live?Shautieh 2016-11-14T03:26:01.920

This is a horrifying awful idea. Taking unneeded time off during your initial period at a new job is highly discouraged and often disallowed outright, nevermind when doing it to work for someone else. While saying that you are trying to be loyal and flexible for the job you quit and your current one can just deal with it, no less! No employer would ever see your complete lack of loyalty to THEM as a plus.Matthew Read 2016-11-15T15:30:21.020

-3

If the shoe was on the other foot, the employer would tell you everyone is expendable; I guess that's not true. If you really want to help them out, is it possible to do weekend work to get them to a good position for your replacement?

Debbie Hall

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 91

-4

It sounds like your client engagement team is looking backwards. I suggest you get them to look forward. What I suggest everyone focus on is making the client happy.

The one new suggestion I have is that you put some effort in to finding a resource that can replace you on the contract.

You could suggest to your client engagement team that if you find a replacement they should pay you a bonus (maybe that is already the case). The bonus they offer will quantify how big of a problem this really is.

A heft bonus then will be motivate you and some of your fellow consultants to solve this problem. A smart team would also get the client involved.

If on the other hand they are unwilling to persue this angle then they are proving that it is not really a problem they just want it to be your problem instead of theirs.

Kenneth Kron

Posted 2016-11-09T20:15:40.323

Reputation: 13