giving notice when boss will tell you to leave immediately

A reader writes:

I am working in retail fine jewelry at present, and have secured another job. I know that my current manager will tell me to leave the day I resign, most likely call someone in to cover my shift. How do I resign gracefully, appearing to be giving two weeks’ notice when in fact, it will only be a few days’ notice? I cannot afford to lose two weeks’ pay.

If you are confident that you’re going to be asked to leave the day you give notice (because you’ve seen your manager do that to others in similar situations), then you should simply wait to give your notice until you’re ready for it to be your last day.

This is the price managers pay when they handle resignations like that. Smart managers create an atmosphere where this doesn’t happen to them — because they treat resigning employees well.

There are some employers who do have a legitimate business need to have resigning employees leave immediately (for instance, those worried about trade secrets), but most don’t. Smart employers will make it known that employees are welcome to work out their notice periods, since that ensures that employees will continue to give them that notice.

Employees can figure out what type of employer they’re working for by paying attention to how your boss has handled other employees who resign. Are people shown the door immediately? Pushed out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? If so, assume the same may happen to you. But if your employer has a track record of behaving well in these situations, return the favor and give a reasonable notice period.

(Note: This is NOT license to skip giving notice in any situation other than one where your boss has a sustained track record of having people leave immediately. If 9 times out of 10, she has welcomed the notice period and just once told someone to leave that day, there were reasons for it that were specific to that one person. In that case, you still need to give notice — at least if you want to leave without burning bridges.)

{ 5 comments… read them below }

  1. Steve Foerster*

    I once was working as an IT systems developer with a specialized technology and I knew I'd be very difficult to replace. Later I found my dream job, but which needed me to start on the first day of their next budget cycle, which was two months later. So I decided to do my supervisor a favor and give him seven weeks notice to make things easier for them.

    He showed me the door the very next day, even though I was in the middle of a number of projects that wouldn't be completed without me. He apologized, explaining that he realized it was an abuse of my courtesy and a foolish decision, but that it was made above his level.

    It was financially very inconvenient to have that much unexpected time off, since that next position didn't start for several weeks afterward. Live and learn. Give two weeks notice, but not more.

  2. KaLogain*

    Would it be recommended to tell your next employer when they ask a good start date, "I've going to give them two weeks, but they are probably going to ask me to leave that day, can we be flexible in the start date." Maybe give or take a week?

  3. Anonymous*

    I was certain that my former boss was going to show me the door the minute I gave her my resignation, in which I offered 2 weeks notice. She was always hot-headed and irrational in every situation. I had my bag packed under my desk with all my personal affects. But then… she begged me to stay for 2 weeks, not just 2, and I didn't get even one day between that job and the next (which was not what I was hoping for). I hope the OP has real evidence about the store's habits and not just a feeling.

  4. Anonymous*

    Actually, in this situation, i believe you'd be eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the period you were out of work.

    I would give the two weeks, and if the employer attempts to dismiss you early… for whatever reason… just let them know that you understand but are prepared to file for unemployment, and that they should expect a call from the unemployment office. Also, make sure you give your notice in writing and make sure the letter is dated, as it is proof that you attempted to give notice, but your employer terminated you prior to being able to do that.

    Obviously, make sure you check with your state's unemployment division first to confirm this, but I do believe it's accurate, at least in many states

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