my company keeps pushing me to extend my notice period

A reader writes:

I work at a small company where the workload is heavy and the pay is little. I would say I’m doing the job of 2-3 people, but they pay me well below my market value (not because they lack the financial means but because they’re stingy and take advantage of naive newcomers). So I decided to leave and pursue a different career. Since my current responsibilities are mine only and it’s a lot of information to pass on, I gave them 4 weeks notice out of professional courtesy.

However, the first two weeks came and went with no replacement coming in. Finally on the third week, the manager sat me down and informed me they’ve been diligently searching for my replacement and have found one but he will not start until my final week with the company. So to help ease with the transition, my manager asked if I can find a way to stay longer. I said no, but after their persistence worked out a way to stay one additional week (giving my company a total of five weeks notice).

It’s been one week since my replacement started working, and at the end of the week he confided in me that the workload was too much to handle and he would be informing my manager that he would not take this job and leaving immediately.

So knowing my company, they will definitely come down on me and guilt me into staying longer until they find another replacement and I can train that replacement again. How do I get out of this? I believe they are entirely in the wrong here but it can be hard to say no because they’ve sort of built a superficial “friendly relationship” with me over the year.

I wrote back and asked, “Why can’t you just tell them no if that happens?”

The response:

I think it will be hard to say no because my company can be really sly with their words and I tend to be a push-over.

My manager knows I have nothing lined up after the job and I would be free for a couple of months. So he’s going to come down on me, saying he doesn’t understand why I couldn’t just stay a little longer as a favor to him and my teammates because now there is no one to train the next replacement (the responsibilities of my teammates are entirely different so they wouldn’t be able to do the training). All I can leave him is a manual that he would not see as sufficient. But I’m finding it very hard to stay and work for him because I can’t stand him/upper management and felt I’ve been taken advantage of too long.

I can’t exactly outright voice my discontent as the reason for why I can’t say another 1-2 weeks because of our relationship. And they would insist on being given a reason if I just went out to say “No, I gave my 5 weeks and do not wish to stay longer” because I would be effectively screwing him and my teammates over. Maybe because this is an Asian company (I myself am Asian), the culture makes it extra hard to be clearcut and stone-cold to my manager. Because he will spin it in a way where I am needlessly and purposely screwing him and my teammates since I do have the power to stay and help them.

Sorry, I feel like I’m being too much of a wimp but I don’t know why I just can’t help getting overwhelmed and pushed in a corner when I’m actually there speaking to my manager in the flesh.

I can’t speak to the cultural issues at play here and I don’t doubt that they’re playing a role, but you’re giving your company way too much power here.

You have the absolute right — legally, ethically, and morally — to say “no, I’m not working past X date.” You’ve already been more than generous with the notice you providing, and have already extended it once.

It’s time to stick to your guns.

If you’re asked to stay longer, say this: “I’m sorry but I can’t. My last day will be X.”

If you’re pushed, repeat that: “I’m sorry but I can’t. My last day will be X.”

If your manager tells you that you don’t have any reason to refuse since you don’t have another job lined up, you say, “I’m sorry but I can’t. My last day will be X.”

If you can’t imagine yourself saying that without having some kind of additional excuse to tack on, then you say, “I’ve made commitments to family members and others for the time after X. I can’t extend my final day.”

I’d also advise most people in your situation to say, “I’m not comfortable continuing to discuss this. My last day will be X and I need you to stop pushing me to change it.” The cultural dynamics here might preclude you saying that, but I’d recommend considering it.

Also, the point of a notice period isn’t to give them time to find and train your replacement. It’s very, very unusual for a typical notice period to be long enough for that to happen. A notice period is to allow you to wrap up your work and answer any questions about it. Again, it is not intended to allow them time to hire and train a replacement. You need to get that thought out of your head, because it’s totally irrelevant here and it’s warping how you’re thinking about this.

But you know, even if it were intended for that (which it’s not), it still wouldn’t be your responsibility to keep extending your notice period. Businesses are equipped to handle resignations. They’re equipped to make do when someone leaves and a replacement hasn’t been found yet. This is totally normal, it happens in businesses every single day, and they all make do. Yours will do the same.

Ultimately, though, you need to see standing up for yourself as your responsibility. Don’t fall back on “I’m a pushover.” If you want to keep your last day where you want it, you’re the one who’s going to need to speak up and say it, and keep saying it even if you get push-back.

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. esra*

    Be strong, OP! Even if your manager tries to spin this as you screwing them, you really aren’t. You were generous to give them the extra week at all. If they have a replacement running after a week, that’s their issue that they need to deal with and another one, two, or three weeks from you is not going to help.

    1. AMT*

      That’s really the issue here. Giving them another week is not going to fix the fact that the company goes to pieces when a single employee leaves with ample notice. There’s no one to train the new hire? There’s no coverage for when people leave? They don’t pay enough to hire someone else to do the job? That’s the way they’ve decided to do business, and they’ll probably tank with or without the OP’s extra week because of their horrible practices.

  2. Gene*

    Ask him how he’s handle it if you got hit by the proverbial bus. Then tell him that’s how he needs to handle it after your last day which WILL BE X. Every time he brings it up again, and I’m sure he will, just walk away.

    1. azvlr*

      I don’t think it’s wise for OP to engage in that conversation with the employer. I do think it is a helpful perspective for OP to have in the back of his/her mind (Sorry if a gender was specified. I didn’t catch it). But repeating the mantra that Allison suggested turns the discussion into a one-sided argument.

      1. Gene*

        You are probably right.

        Though personally, I’d tell him that my last day is X and I’ll be happy to help him after that, but I’ll be a contractor, my rate is Y (at least 10X my current low rate), I get half paid up front, and I’ll pick what parts I will do; here’s a copy of my contract, take it or leave it. But I can be a mercenary SOB.

        1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

          This! The first thought I had, s/he could offer to help out after the last day as a contractor by his/her conditions. If the company decides it is to pricy, well then it isnt urgent enough to have him/her stay on anyways…

    2. Beezus*

      I would never be willing to do the extended notice contractor thing in a case like this. Their management style screams entitlement – not paying enough for the workload, not respecting the notice period, not being satisfied with a written work manual, and not managing staff for turnover. The OP can’t fix their problems and she’s so unhappy there now that she’s leaving without another job lined up. There is no point in drawing this out. This is where I’d pull out the old “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible” line and repeat exhaustively as needed until the notice period is done.

      1. Guava*

        I agree! If the employer had a track record of treating the OP with respect, then maybe the extended contractor thing could work. But this employer has already demonstrated that he’s more than willing to bully the OP past her boundaries, so definitely not.

        I worked for a guy like this once. A friend of mine left after working for him for nine years, and he replaced her with a temp. This friend had effectively done three jobs – senior account rep, comptroller and all of his HR. The temp was trained to answer the phone, and he harassed my friend into coming over to his house on her weekends to teach her accounting and client service! This went on for almost a year, until the temp quit.

        This ex boss tried that with me too. I heard that after I left, he threw away all my client files – on active projects! – because there was “too much paper” and then called me multiple times a day for several weeks, demanding to know about this detail or that project. I went on vacation out of the country and in that week, the voicemails escalated to shouting and pleading. I never called him back.

        Some people will always try to take more than you give them.

  3. Helka*

    Look at it this way, OP: you’re not screwing them over. They’re screwing themselves over by paying you way below market value, overloading you on work, and not building in any kind of redundancy. This situation isn’t your fault (although I’m sure they’re happy to pin it on you) — it’s theirs for not building in any kind of safety net if you stop working for them. Their lack of foresight is not on your shoulders to deal with.

    1. John*

      Exactly. And if OP is so all-fired important, they should have worked to ensure OP would never want to leave.

      1. maggie*

        OMG, this so much.

        OP, remember this. They still have every opportunity to say “Wow, since you’d be doing us this huge favor of extending this transition to help us out, how about if we pay you double (or whatever) as a consultant while we look for your replacement?”

        Since they’re not even bothering to do this, then they are banking on the fact that you’re unlikely to balk at staying on longer BELOW MARKET PRICE until the end of time. Maybe he thinks its a game, who knows. Don’t do them the favor of insulting you further. They know exactly what they could do to keep you happy during this transition. And they’re choosing not to. THAT is insulting and you should use this fact in the back of your head as you say repeatedly “I have already made non negotiable plans after that date (your freedom!), I’m sorry. My last day will be ___. End of story, cheapskates!”

        1. Ella*

          I have a friend who did exactly that when he started his own business. He quit, because he was being paid way below what he was qualified for, and opened his own shop. In less than a month, they asked him to come back short term to help them through a busy time. “Sure,” he said, “My short term contract rate is $X [substantially more than they’d been paying him as an employee].” Felt really good to say, he got some work, they were able to meet deadlines with clients. Everyone wins.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      +100000 The situation they created is their fault and by underpaying you on top of that, they were basically asking for something like this to happen.

    3. Jady*

      Totally this…. if you’re going to succumb to the pressure, at least make the situation fair. ‘This work is too demanding for the pay. I intend for my last day to be X unless you can pay me YYY!” You set your conditions and put the burden on them to meet those conditions!

      If they’re not willing to agree, then they don’t really need you and are just taking advantage, and now can’t pressure you further because the decision was placed in their hands. If they actually do need you as badly as they are insisting, then they’ll jump at the chance and you’ll be much better off.

      Obviously the ideal situation is to just say no, but if you find yourself unable to say no, at least get something out of it for yourself.

      1. HarryV*

        I wouldn’t recommend that. The OP has already labeled this as a toxic company and care not desperate for the money. Get a fresh start and seek employment where they will valued.

    4. Artemesia*

      No kidding. They lost their replacement because they are abusive employers and the new guy figured it out and moved on. They are abusing you and you are taking it. Alison’s line is perfect. They don’t deserve consideration even to the extent you have given since their goal is to exploit and then to bully. If they were paying market rate, the new guy would have stayed.

    5. Is It Performance Art*

      Yeah I worked in a place like that and the interesting thing is that my co-workers and i always fully understood that it really was management’s fault not the fault of the coworker. We were working extra hours because management couldn’t retain competent people. It was ridiculous to expect someone to put up with screaming, frequent 14 hour days (because management waited until the last minute) and low pay because leaving would make your co-workers’ lives more difficult. It was all a symptom of mismanagement.

      1. themmases*

        I also think that in a lot of these situations, whether you know it or not you are not the only one who wants to leave. I was once in a job where a coworker and I were in a race to leave because neither of us wanted to face the terrible environment alone and inherit the other’s work on top of everything. For a while it looked like my coworker was going to win and while I stepped up my job search because I wasn’t looking forward to being left behind, my only other thought was “good for her.”

  4. grasshopper*

    As Alison said you aren’t obligated to give a reason. Giving a reason makes it seem like you’re open to negotiations about the end date. It is a sales technique that if someone gives you an objection, you find ways around it. If you don’t give a reason then there is no argument or negotiation.

    It also sounds like you’re quitting because you feel like the company is taking advantage of you. If you feel strongly enough about that to quit, then you be strong enough to stop working on your terms not theirs. Be strong.

    1. Kay*


      “No” is a complete sentence. You are not obligated to explain yourself or justify your decision to leave.

  5. John*

    OP, remind yourself that only one side has been making any accommodation. It’s not as though they’re offering you a retention bonus or something.

    1. Adam*

      This is true. OP has given 2.5 times the standard resignation notice. If an employer can’t figure out how to handle an employee’s departure with that kind of grace period (emphasis on grace), frankly, they’re not trying hard enough.

  6. Adam*

    I can’t speak to the cultural dynamics, but all things being equal you have no reason to feel guilty so don’t let him try and dump that on you. “No.” is a complete sentence. They’ve had five weeks to find a suitable replacement and already scared off one. It’s their job to figure out how to make their business run without you. Your only job now is to keep your departure professional while keeping your sanity/health intact. Good luck!

  7. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Remember, “No.” is a complete sentence.

    So are:

    I can’t.
    I just can’t.
    I’m not willing to discuss it any further.
    (At which point you leave if they keep asking.)

    BTW, I initially put “I’m sorry” in front of the last three sentences, but I recommend the OP specifically try to avoid saying those words, as they’ve already placated their employer more than they should have as it is.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        And “I don’t think so.”

        No one can tell that you do think so when you’ve just told them you don’t. “I don’t think so” is “Hell no!” for beginners.

    1. Mephyle*

      Another way to put this is that it’s not necessary for them you to change their minds before you make this your last week. There is no tractor beam that will drag you back next week if they are still disapproving your decision. Even if they still say ‘no’, even if they are unhappy, you can just stop going to work next week after informing them that this is your last week.

      1. Mephyle*

        First sentence above was supposed to read: “Another way to put this is that it’s not necessary for them to change their minds before you make this your last week.”

  8. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Damn, Adam beat me to it!

    I wanted to add that I strongly recommend that the OP specifically stay away from any kind of explaining or giving any kind of reasons. Think of pushy salespeople, like telemarketers…no matter what you say, they’ll have a reason you need to give them money. Don’t have any? Charge it! Don’t need it? Yes you do! Don’t fall into that trap, you need to flatly refuse to open negotiations. In fact, your mission is to shut them down!

    1. sunny-dee*

      This is a really, really good point. I worked on a team once where Lead Team A would try to pressure Lead Team B into doing something. B would say, “no, I can’t do that because my team already has Project X as a priority.” And in the next meeting, A would say, “B agreed to do this because Project X isn’t a priority to me, and that was the only reason they couldn’t do this.”

    2. Koko*

      I’m recalling back in the heyday of credit card protection plans, when you had to dial a number to activate your new card and be subjected to a sales pitch for the protection plan just to activate the card. I declined the protection plan, stating that I was on a stable salary and had no intention of carrying a balance. The sleazy phone rep then said something like, “You know, with the holidays coming up, there are so many crazy drivers on the road. I’d hate for something to happen to you and your family to be responsible for your credit card bills.” My jaw actually fell open a little that he’d take the pitch to implying I might DIE AT CHRISTMAS. I finally collected myself and said something like, “That’s a risk I’ll just have to take. I do not want this plan. Please confirm my card is activated.”

      1. Natalie*

        Double sleazy, since your family wouldn’t have to pay your personal debts if you died anyway!

        1. Judy*

          But your estate does. So if you have a bank account with $X in it and you have outstanding bills of $X, then that money goes for the bills. Same with property.

      2. PuppyPetter*

        my response would have been “Never mind, I no longer want this card. I will be calling the issuer to explain why they last my account.

      3. Lauren*

        Wow. I know this wasn’t what the rep intended, but that sounds like a line from a bad mafia film. I would have been tempted to reply in that vein.

        1. Wren*

          I know, right? I thought Koko was going to say s/he responded, “Are you threatening me?”

          1. This guy*

            I wonder how the rep would react if you intentionally took that as a genuine threat and freaked out on them. ‘Oh my god! Are you threatening to kill me if I don’t take this protection plan!? Oh my god!’ And just keep repeating it and get more and more distressed. Those calls are recorded, right?

      4. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I would have ranted at him about what a disgusting, tasteless, and exploitative sales tactic that was. But that’s me.

      5. JoAnna*

        I had a door-to-door home security salesman come to my house to try to sell me a system. I declined, and his response was, “I guess you don’t want your kids to be safe.” He’s very lucky I couldn’t leave my kids in the house alone, otherwise I would have ran after him (he was already walking away when he made that comment) and demanded his name and the name of his supervisor.

  9. Buu*

    Do you have a friend or relative you can stay with cheeply? if you don’t feel you can just say “No” then there’s a ready made excuse right there. ” sorry going to stay with my aunt Edith, it’s all booked up”

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I was going to say something like this. “My grandparents want me to come and visit them” “My parents require me to assist them on their farm” “I have to travel home to visit my _______ who is in poor health”

      Seriously, it is not your problem that they overwork people, improperly staff, don’t pay well and have low retention rates — it’s theirs. By continuing to let them have what they want, you’re only rewarding their mismanagement. However, if you want to say that you’ll stay… provided they double your salary, that’s entirely up to you (and it may get them to stop bothering you).

        1. Nina*

          I agree. The OP has given them more than enough notice and doesn’t owe this company anything else. Lying only makes things more complicated. And this isn’t going to be the last time the OP will find themselves in this situation.

          I’m pretty sure that the OPs boss is banking on them feeling guilty so it’s easier to manipulate the OP into staying longer. Don’t. They’re not paying you any extra, your reasons for leaving are valid and “No” is a perfectly fine answer to give them. You already mentioned that you’re working on a manual for the replacement, and that’s fine. Sucks if the replacement is leaving, but that is not your problem. It’s your boss’ problem.

        2. OhNo*

          I don’t think it’s up to us to say what the OP needs or doesn’t need. What the OP said in their letter is that they often feel like a push-over in the conversations they’ve had previously. For people who really have trouble saying no, or for whom saying no causes anxiety, having an excuse can be a big help.

          That said, OP, if you choose to go this route, make sure you clearly state that the date of your “trip” is immovable. You are leaving on X date. No, you cannot trade the tickets. No, you cannot push it back. No, you cannot just call them instead. No, no, no. You leaving on X date, period.

        3. Nerd Girl*

          I agree that she shouldn’t lie but I don’t think that was what was originally suggested. The OP has stated that she has a really hard time saying no. If she were to make plans that were already in place then she wouldn’t have to lie and would have a ready reason as to why she can’t stay longer when her manager presses her.

          I feel for you OP. Please keep us updated as to how this plays out. Stay strong!!!

        4. Dynamic Beige*

          Then don’t make it a lie. I’m sure if the OP puts their mind to it, they can come up with something, even if it’s just an overnight stay that would make it legit. From what I understand, Asian cultures value and respect those who care for their elders. Saying you’re leaving with no job lined up, the idea of down time or decompression (from the toxic environment) is probably alien to this boss. Saying you’re going to visit your relatives, that’s something they can understand. Once the OP leaves, how are they going to know if the OP did or did not go? It’s none of their business and unless they’re family friends or something, I doubt the OP is going to be sending them holiday cards. OP will probably cross to the other side of the street if they see these people coming.

          The OP has admitted they are a pushover and have given in to pressure before. If they don’t have a reason, then they either need a reason or they need to invent a reason to save face (although in this case, it’s the boss who should be ashamed of their conduct). I have a feeling that this boss is not someone who asked once, I have a feeling they picked at the OP until they felt under such pressure that they couldn’t say no. And what worked before, they will try on again.

  10. Mike C.*

    Everything AaM said, but I wanted to add something:

    Because he will spin it in a way where I am needlessly and purposely screwing him and my teammates since I do have the power to stay and help them.

    OP, when it comes down to it, are you in charge with staffing and retention? No? You mean that’s your boss’s job? Interesting. Maybe if they weren’t so cheap, they would have the number of people needed, and they would be paid well. They are the ones screwing up and they are passing blame onto you.

    Let me repeat that – They are the ones screwing up and they are passing blame onto you.

    Think about this, internalize it, say it out loud, get mad! You deserve better than this! You’ve worked hard for little reward and you’ve already taken the hard step of choosing to leave. Good for you! But they’re still trying to get their claws into you, but you have the power now! What part of “end date” don’t they understand?

    When they come at you again, you tell them that if they bring it up again, you’re leaving right then and there. When they get mad at you, tell them staffing is their job, not yours. When they question your loyalty, remind them that it goes both ways. If they continue, grab a box and start packing knowing you’ve mad the right decision.

    Today is a new day my friend. Forget all the times they screwed you over, didn’t pay you well and didn’t value your contributions. Never again. You deserve better than this, all you need to do is say so. Good luck!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      While I’m all for empowering the OP (and I agree that “No” is a complete sentence), this company does have some power in the form of serving as a reference to a future employer. Therefore, I would caution against some of the more agressive pushback (questioning THEIR loyalty, etc.). By all means, be FIRM (“I am unable to continue past X date”), but keep things civil and professional.

      If for some reason you are tempted (or they ask you to) consult for them after your notice period, make sure you have:
      a) a written contract
      b) a term-limit
      c) a consulting/training rate approx 10x your hourly rate at this company

      Good luck, OP–would love to hear an update!

      1. LizNYC*

        I was just thinking that the OP could use his/her skills after the official end date to then consult for this company — charging 4x the amount paid per hour with the salary. But then again, I might not trust this company to honor such an arrangement and actually pay.

        I’m on Team Just Say No and then book yourself a trip/unable-to-be-canceled engagement so you can say, No, because after X End Date, I’ll be out of state for two weeks.

        1. John*

          The part about leaving right then and there if they can’t take no for an answer. That would be walking off the job.

          But I get the mindset you are still to instill, and think that is on point. Just no walking out. Firm diplomacy.

          And that’s hard. My mom is wired like the OP. Whenever she stands up for herself it’s because she’s gotten herself so worked up that it comes across as pretty emotional…just angry. That’s not always constructive.

          1. Mike C.*

            It’s been long established that if you give a longer than normal notice period and yet you continue to be treated like garbage, you leave. This isn’t unprofessional in the slightest.

            Why should the OP continue to deal with this garbage?

            1. NJ anon*

              This has happened to me. Gave 2 weeks notice e, crappy treatment commenced, I left after a week. Didn’t need them for a reference. Good riddance!

          2. Judy*

            The OP gave 4 week notice, it is now at the end of that original notice period. That’s not walking off the job to leave then.

      2. Observer*

        The simple fact that the OP is leaving them without a fully trained replacement in place is almost certainly going to mean a bad reference. That is NOT to suggest that the OP wait until that happens. On the contrary, that is to say that there is absolutely no point in trying to do anything for the sake of a reference – it’s not happening anyway. There will never be a real attempt to have a a fully trained replacement till the OP makes it CRYSTAL clear that the last day is X, with X being in the very near future. And the moment the OP manages to convince them of that, they will be convinces that the OP “lacks loyalty” and has “betrayed them.”

        So, the OP needs to stay calm and professional, but needs to NOT allow them to pressure her (or him) into staying even one extra day.

        1. M*

          That is not a fact but an opinion. Its not the OP’s responsibility to leave them with a fully trained replacement. If that was important to the employer they would have given her the tools in order to make that happen within the more than sufficient notice she provided. The new employee leaving after one week is all the facts she would need to explain to next employer to preempt the potential bad reference.

          Unfortunately I’ve been victim of the “attempted bad reference” for things that any normal employee would not put up with. If you can explain your past situation calmly and factually & leave out the emotions a strong interview can overcome that.

      3. OP*

        I’m actually working the last week for them as a consultant (though my responsibilities and workload are still the same). This was after I initially refused to extend the 4 weeks and they came back and told me that my last day will still be my last day but I can stay the extra week as a consultant to help and they will pay me by the hour at a higher rate.

        Little did I know I just came to realized the rate they offered me was much less than what I should be getting as a consultant!! I did not realized till I accepted that the standard is to charge at least twice the base rate due to taxes etc. So my company actually used the $ amount I was getting paid hourly back when I was an “intern”…. So I’m pretty much making less or the same as what I was already making with them already. No benefits at all, at least they are making it REALLY easy for me to turn my back on them.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoa. You know, you could go back to them and say, “If you’d like me to stay the last week we discussed, I need to revisit the pay agreement. The hourly rate you suggested is the amount I was making as an intern. To work as a consultant, where I’d be responsible for my own payroll taxes, I’d need to charge $X. Will that work on your end, or should we just wrap up (date of previous week) instead?”

  11. Ann Furthermore*

    OP, if your first instinct is to always be accommodating, or if you tend to be a people-pleaser, answering with a firm “No,” is sooooo hard. But man, does it feel great to finally say it! You really do have to screw up your nerve and just do it the first time, but the more you say it, the easier it gets. It’s actually quite liberating.

    So just take a deep breath, dig in, and say, “No.” And repeat as necessary. You may be surprised at how much easier it gets and how great it feels.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, this. I used to be a “spineless wonder” in certain situations. Once I decided to be more assertive about saying no, it became so much easier after the first time. Now my noodle spine is made of shiny titanium! OP, if it’s really too hard to say no with no explanation, just say you have already made plans. No one needs to know if those plans are nothing more than to watch Netflix in your pajamas.
      Remember, they are pushing you because they know it works. They will manage without you.

    2. Nerd Girl*

      Agreed. The word NO is magic. It can free up schedules, end problems, and alter lives.

    3. DBAGirl*

      OP – if you don’t generally feel “powerful”, believe me. Saying “No” and making it stick will make you feel powerful! It’s a great way to feel and it’s a skill that will come in handy in all kinds of situations in life!

      Best of luck, and be strong!

    4. plain_jane*

      I really feel like the OP could use a bit of role playing practice before this discussion. OP, is there anyone you could trust to help you practice saying No to? Or perhaps you could play both roles, so you and your friend could figure out the answers to the things you think they will try on you?

  12. Oryx*

    I’d almost nix the “I’m sorry” at the start — don’t apologize, don’t give them an opportunity to see it as you feeling bad for leaving because they will inevitably see it as an opportunity to keep pushing you to stay. Just keep repeating “My last day is X” until, well, Day X arrives.

    1. Donna*

      Even if you do actually say, “I’m sorry”, you don’t have to say the next part out loud, “that you’re such a horrible manager.”

    2. OhNo*

      I would nix the “I’m sorry”, too, just because it gives the manager a clear opening to pull the “If you were REALLY sorry you would stay on longer” card, which has the potential to put the OP in a bind.

      Just say no!

  13. GigglyPuff*

    I’d also like to add something, one of the issues seems to be the problem that there will be on one there to train the replacement. That’s what your manager is for, and while obviously they aren’t a good manager, it seems to me, that the responsibility of any manager is to learn enough about your employees’ job to be able to replicate it if something happens. Because things happen, not just resignations, but life, accidents, death, etc…While the manager shouldn’t have to learn all the intricate details of your job, if they don’t know how to do your job, how do they know you’ve been doing it correctly?

    Just something, OP, I hope you think about. You not being there to train the replacement is not your fault, it is the fault of the management trying to take the easy way out, and not have to deal with it.

    For example, I just started a new job in January. The previous person, and another person in the department both left in November/December. Which meant there was no one who had actually done my job to train me on all the details, even most of the paperwork they left behind wasn’t complete. But my manager, spent time going over stuff I needed to know, and essentially had to teach herself the more detailed aspects of my job, so I could learn. And you know what, this allowed me to see beyond the step by step, look at ways to do projects outside the box previous employees had set up, and make things more efficient.

    But please, like Alison said, this is the time for you to wrap up your projects, create some manuals, how to’s, fill your boss in on how to do things, etc…because like with the replacement they hired before, the next person might not stick either, and you’ll just be sucked back in. So, if your manager was responsible, and obviously they’re not, you would be “training” them as your replacement.

    Least that’s my two cents on how this entire thing is supposed to work.

    1. MsM*

      Also, maybe if your manager saw first-hand just how much work you’re doing instead of just being able to fob it onto you, he’d realize this isn’t a one-person job and restructure the position so your potential replacements don’t quit in terror after their first week.

  14. MT*

    Tell them you will stay on, but only for double your current rate. Then let them make the decision.

    1. Ruthan*

      I’d love to see this work, but am worried that OP would feel even more obligated to stay ad infinitum if they actually did it.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      No. Because they may agree and then not pay it. The only time this works is when you get a retainer upfront. And they will never agree to this. Just say No.

    3. JMegan*

      …only if you’re actually willing to do that, of course! If you genuinely don’t mind working extra time for more money, there’s nothing wrong with presenting that as an option. But only if you really mean it, because there’s nothing worse than tossing something like that up there to call their bluff, only to have them turn around and call yours in return*. If you’re at the point where no amount of money in the world could convince you to stay, then don’t make the offer. Just keep repeating “My last day is X,” over and over again as necessary.

      *Although, it says something about the company if they’re suddenly willing to pay you that amount, when they weren’t before. If they have the money in the budget to keep you from leaving, seems to me they should have been paying you appropriately all along rather than waiting until after you’ve given your notice.

    4. A Reader becoming QAT Contractor*

      I disagree. First, this is a threat to the company, a who blinks first kind of thing. And while it might be a threat, it could be they are willing to pay it and now you have just painted yourself into a corner of having to accept. OP isn’t happy there for other reasons beyond the pay.

      A firm no, as Alison and others suggest, is the best approach at this point. Not the OP’s job to train a replacement. Creating manuals or process documents can be helpful, but ultimately it is the manager and companies fault for not being better setup to handle resignations.

  15. Laurel Gray*

    OP, you mentioned that both you and your employer are Asian and the culture makes it hard to stand up to your manager. Could you also argue that the culture makes your employer able to take advantage of you by paying you low wages for doing the work of 2-3 people? It’s something to consider as you maneuver out of this and embark on your next job. Good luck!!

  16. Kaz*

    At this rate you may convince them that they can keep doing this forever and you’ll never actually leave.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “No, I can not keep moving my last day employment. X day will be my final day.”

      I find that indicating I cannot keep moving a date really works with people, when other things do not work.

  17. Zahra*

    Is it possible to say “I’m willing to consult for a new hire’s training (provided I’m available) at 3x [Current Market Rate] if you need me to. Otherwise, I’ve left manuals and documentation.”?

    You’d be saying “Yes”, but making it prohibitively expensive for them to take you up on your offer. And if they say yes, do write a contract. AaM has a few posts where the essentials of a consultant’s contract are covered.

    1. A Reader becoming QAT Contractor*

      As I mentioned above, the OP said they were not happy there for more reasons that just the money. If they really want to leave they need to cut all ties and not make these empty threats that the business is possibly willing to agree to which then makes it impossible for the OP to leave.

      Saying no and holding to a date is the best approach. Do not give them an option no matter how ridiculous it sounds. It hurts you in more ways than it’s worth.

    2. OhNo*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t do that. It opens the way for the employer to come back later and cry “Money woes! We desperately need you to train this person, but we can’t afford your rate! For old times sake, how about we pay you $X?” (or even better: “how about you do it for free?”).

      Make it a clean break! Don’t give the employer any openings to try and squeeze more out of you at a later date.

  18. Eva G.*

    You could try a jedi mind trick: Make another commitment to go work for some other people after your final day (such as a charity or an organization in your community). That way, you would put yourself in a situation where you’d have to disappoint some other people if you didn’t show up for that commitment. Presumably the fear of letting them down would help you stay strong and not come back after your final day.

    1. CheeryO*

      This is what I was going to suggest, as a sometimes spineless people-pleaser. You could also book a short trip to visit an out-of-town friend or relative, if you have the funds to do so.

  19. Anonymous Educator*

    I’m with Alison that it’s a fundamental error in understanding about what notice is for. Notice is (usually) never enough time to find and train a replacement. I’ve been able to do that at two of my jobs (where I gave over 4 months’ notice), but most of the time, you finish up what you were going to finish up, and then you leave.

    I know one job I left I wrote a ton of documentation for, offered the company two months of “If you have any questions, contact me,” and they didn’t for the first two months. They hired a replacement and randomly contacted me with questions six months later (I never got back to them—sorry, that’s not a reasonable timeframe to be contacting a former employee with questions), and the replacement left in less than a year. If you can’t keep people, that’s your own fault, not the fault of the employee.

    1. some1*

      This. The company should have been more focused on having the LW train her coworkers to do her job instead of rushing to get just anyone in the seat so the LW could train him.

  20. telecommuter*

    Oy, this is tough. When I started reading, the solution seemed very clear-cut and simple, but then OP mentioned an Asian culture and I totally get it. My brain totally switches when I’m dealing with Asian relationships, and it’s amazing how complete the shift is — I couldn’t fathom saying things to an Asian boss (in an Asian cultural/social context, that is, not like an American boss of Asian descent) that I would easily say in a Western context.

    So, my advice to OP is to keep your answers SHORT! I totally understand the compulsion to make explanations and find reasons that the boss can’t argue with, but everything will be much easier if you give fewer details. The boss will have fewer ways to try to counter-argue you if you don’t give him the openings — and it sounds like your boss will definitely try to argue and change your mind by picking at every explanation you offer. Don’t open that door! Rather than explaining why you can’t stay, or why it’s not reasonable for them to ask, just do as Alison suggests — and then STOP talking. Don’t fill in the silence and try to smooth out the awkwardness or offer apologies!

      1. telecommuter*

        I don’t want to speak for all of Asia, of course, but in my personal experience in an Asian context I feel an extra burden to resolve a conflict fully before moving on from it. In an American context, I would feel fine taking care of my professional obligation and then just leaving, because how the business handles my departure is their issue. In an Asian context, I would feel stressed and anxious about a situation that was left unresolved — they don’t have to like my choice to leave, but I would feel the need to get the company to accept the decision, and if I couldn’t do that, I hadn’t yet fulfilled my professional obligation. So it’s not as simple as saying that the company is being unreasonable, but that I’d actually feel that I did fall short of my professional duties by leaving things unfinished. It’s not just that “Asian people expect you to act differently,” but that I myself feel differently on an emotional/mental level in an Asian context. If I acted as assertive and bluntly in an Asian workplace as I did in an American one, I would be acting unprofessional for ignoring cultural norms and feeling myself above them, and it would affect me adversely.

        I don’t know if this makes sense! It’s a very complicated cultural/identity issue and I don’t even know that I have it all figured out for myself! (Thankfully I don’t deal with this in my profession, but I definitely see it and empathize with OP.)

        1. fposte*

          It’s actually really enlightening–thanks! I think you’re right that professionalism is a lot about understanding cultural norms for the workplace, so it won’t always work to be American in Asia. But I hope the OP can be a little bit more American and get out the door.

        2. Purple Jello*

          But how would you get the company to accept you decision to leave? Any suggestions for the OP?

          1. telecommuter*

            As I suggested above, I would keep the explanations to a minimum. With people like the OP’s boss, it seems like they’ll keep pestering you to get you to agree to what they want. You may want to try to keep looking for explanations in the hope that one will finally get boss to back off, but that just gives the boss multiple angles to argue back. So rather than having to argue a dozen different arguments, just stick to the one basic explanation (such as Alison’s example, or another one on this page about having family responsibilities is good) and repeating that over and over. If the boss hears one “no” twenty times, he can (hopefully) come to accept that it’s a pointless argument faster than if he hears twenty different no’s.

          2. Natalie*

            I wonder if the monkey wrench here is that OP doesn’t have another job lined up. Perhaps in cultures that operate like this, another job is a “good enough” reason to leave even without a replacement trained.

        3. CrazyCatLady*

          It’s really interesting to hear this explanation as I have many Asian coworkers and do business with Asian suppliers.

        4. Miso*

          As an Asian American working in East Asia, I completely understand this struggle and do agree that cultural issues are playing a bigger role here. I think it’s partly because social obligations and individual obligations (and thus social identity and individual identity) are tied much more closely here–which is why, as telecommuter says, leaving business unfinished in a western context and Asian context might mean two different things.

          That being said, OP, you still need to leave. Being vague will be to your advantage here. Use the phrases Alison gave you and don’t offer anything else.

          Also, last thing–you’re not a wimp! It’s a tricky situation. I’ve seen people ignore the cultural factors to push their way out and it tends to leave a bad impression. But, at the end of the day, you still need to take care of you first. Good luck!

    1. Jeanne*

      This is what I was thinking. The key is to be calm. Say what Admin said. My last day of work will be X. Then say nothing more. Do not fill silences. You can turn back to work. Just don’t add anything.

      I worked with a boss and coworker both from South Korea in a small department. The boss was kind but it was a different atmosphere. He saw himself almost as our father. Lots of wanting to know if we would marry and starta good family. No acknowledgment of conflict. Then I got a boss from China. She seemed to need me to be much more subservient and not express any emotions except happiness. For me, it was that I was expected to be their culture even at a US company.

      1. Ella*

        I am grateful to hear some examples from different (and specific) cultures. “Asian culture” is not a monolith and varies from country to country.

        Also, cultural training can be relearned. One of the chapters in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books was about plane crashes, and how a disproportionate number of crashes was happening when the pilot/copilot team were of a specific nationality (let’s say Thai). Turned out that, because of the cultural deference to authority, copilots were either not speaking up when their judgment differed from the pilot’s, or not sticking to their guns when they were overruled. The airline gave a bunch of training to their Thai staff about voicing dissent, and about listening to it, and their safety record improved. Culture is huge and complicated but it’s also malleable. Being Asian, or working for an Asian company, doesn’t doom this employee to being a doormat forever.

        1. matcha123*

          I would recommend Ask a Korean’s excellent answer/reply to Gladwell’s study.

          I love his books, but the cultural things are a bit off.
          (.jp is only because I’m in Japan. The author is based in the US.)

          1. ella*

            I’ve always sort of wondered that about Gladwell. The way he weaves together a narrative, it’s really hard to compare him to other sources and evaluate whether his thought process is on the ball or not. I try to take everything he says with a grain of salt.

            I will check out the blog, thank you!

          2. ella*

            Oh, this is really good (askakorean). I like this. All the commenters who said, “Well, you’re Asian and your employer is Asian so clearly you should tell your boss that you have familial obligations because he’ll respect that because he’s Asian” should read this.

            1. Zahra*

              Interesting read. I did qualify my point and, for a conflict-adverse person, I think it is a valid exit strategy. It could work for any culture I know, but would be especially powerful in cultures where filial and familial obligations are held to a higher standard than in the US or Canada (in general). The Asian cultures I know (Indian) and the ones I know of (China and Japan, mostly) do place familial and filial obligations very high on the hierarchy of obligations to others.

    2. Anonsie*

      Agreed entirely. In this case, too, I’d say remaining apologetic is less detrimental to your case.

  21. weasel007*

    OP, I think you need to change the “I can’t” to “I will not.” I hope we can get an update on this submission.

  22. Apollo Warbucks*

    Seems like a case of Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, to me where hostages express sympathy or have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

    Ok so that’s a bit tongue in check, but the fact that you’re replacement couldn’t hand,e your work load should give you wake up call.

    Don’t feel bad for them, they are running a completely dysfunctional business. You’ve been generous with your time and change your plans once. Leave with a clear conscience, and enjoy the time you have off.

  23. Stuck in the Snow*

    Make plans. Seriously, for the week after you’d be gone from this office, make plans to go somewhere or do something. It could be a trip to visit Auntie Sue, or a series of appointments at 10:00am every day – but something that you commit to doing. And then say “no, I’m sorry, I can’t stay on – I’m committed elsewhere”. “no, I’m sorry, I can’t change them”. “no, I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I can’t stay on because I’m committed elsewhere”. “no, I’m sorry, I’m committed elsewhere and I can’t change those commitments”. On and on.

    I’ve added “I’m sorry”, because in *my* culture, we apologize for everything. It’s as meaningful or as meaningless as you want it to be, but it makes things polite. And because you *have* made commitments, you aren’t lying. And you can’t change them, because you know that’s a bad idea. Just don’t go off track – stick to the infinite combination of the stock phrases above.

    I had a classmate who was a total bully this way – I get it, it’s very hard. Adding cultural issues into the mix makes it harder. But you have to do this! It’s a very good skill to have. If you can’t do it for yourself, imagine how you would counsel a good friend or a younger sibling who was being bullied this way – and speak for them. Good luck!

    1. A Jane*

      +1 on Stuck in the Snow plans. An outside factor to help solidify your plans to leave would help in this situation. As another firm reminder, if you choose this strategy, don’t loop your manager in on your plans. You know that you have a commitment and you need to stick with it.

      1. Anony-moose*

        I was thinking this, too! It would help me to walk away and not be guilted into staying if I knew I had to say, get on a plane, Monday at 9am to visit my one-year-old niece. It almost seems like CREATING an excuse but I know it would be a welcome tool in my toolbox!

    2. Zahra*

      Oh, that’s a good one! Familial obligations would have even more weight because family is usually very, very important in Asian cultures (at least, it is in the ones I do know and know of).

    3. Artemesia*

      Absolutely. You obviously need something to stiffen your spine here so book a trip to visit a relative or commit to something local with a charity where you have promised to do something — something anything to make it easier for you to say ‘AS I noted when I gave notice a month ago, March 3 will be my last day.’ You don’t have to tell them you have plans, but knowing in your heart that you have plans will help you say this.

      And please don’t allow yourself to be abused like this again.

  24. Ann O'Nemity*

    It’s been one week since my replacement started working, and at the end of the week he confided in me that the workload was too much to handle and he would be informing my manager that he would not take this job and leaving immediately.

    Yeah, this is why the OP needs to get out now. I bet the company/manager will exploit the OP’s good will and hard work for as long as possible, and they may have trouble finding another sucker employee to fill the position.

  25. Eric*

    And what is he to do when they refuse to pay out his vacation time because of “lack of notice”?

    1. fposte*

      In most states, nothing, because he’s not legally entitled to a vacation payout (and it’s not exactly routine to get one anyway). In California, call the DOL.

      But it’s not like never leaving the place is better, so I might just consider that a freedom tax.

    2. Windchime*

      But the OP *did* work out his notice. Just because the manager is begging him to extend it (again!), doesn’t mean he is obligated in any way to do so. The original notice was given, then extended–I think the OP has met the bar on whether or not he has given notice.

  26. Asian Worker*

    OP, are you working in a western country for an asian company or are you working in Asia?

    For the former, unless you got the job through a familial relationship I would stick to my guns. Just plainly say “I’ve made commitments elsewhere, and unless you paid me $$$ more than what I make now, I am unable to stay.” If they push harder, just say for financial reasons you can’t stay. The ball is then in their court.

    If you’re in Asia then say this “I’m sorry, but my family is going through some troubles and I need to see to them.” Usually 99% of the time they will let you go. It’s in super bad form not to.

  27. Simplytea*


    If they keep pushing you, say that you’ll continue working for them as a consultant, and then up your salary to what you want it to be. Consultants get to set their prices!

    Script: “I’m sorry, I can’t work past X date as an employee. However, if you would like to retain my services, I’m happy to work for you during these set hours for X amount of money. Regardless, my last day as a Chocolate Teapot employee will be X.”

    I have an old coworker who was getting pushed and pushed and pushed to staying, and then she quit. And they never hired anyone else, even though she had another job. So she works on the weekend, and gets paid what she wants to get paid.

    1. HarryV*

      This is what I thought too. Offer to be a pay per hour consultant after you resign. I would not negotiate a better pay term as I know they will even pile more work onto OP.

    2. Scott*

      This is an EXCELLENT idea. Not only can consultants set their own rates, they get paid by the hour so if you work 16 hours you bill 16 hours. If you go this route, though, keep in mind that consultants also have to pay self-employment tax (basically, take whatever it says on your paycheck for FICA and double it–that’s what you’ll pay) and insurance so take this into account when setting your rate.

  28. DMC*

    If I were in your shoes, and the company really pressured me to stay, and I had nothing immediately lined up, I might be tempted to–only if they gave me a substantial pay increase for that remaining period of time. If it’s that important to them, they will. If it isn’t, they won’t, and I wouldn’t feel badly about saying goodbye.

  29. HarryV*

    OP, I completely know how you feel. I started my first job in a similar sweat factory type place where it was a small team. The manager would set an “example” where he would work 12-16 hours REGULARLY making it difficult for others to leave on time after their shift. We never had a relationship where we could discuss issues such as pay, responsibilities, and other personal issues. I recall coming to a graveyard shift despite getting into a car accident as I didn’t want my team lead to have to cover me by working an additional 8 hours. In my case, I resigned over e-mail after my shift but I had a job lined up. You already made a decision that this is not the place for you. A lot of people forget that an employer / employee is a business relationship. If one side is getting the short end of the stick, you should exit the relationship. You already gave more than enough notice and you shouldn’t have to justify your leaving. A simple – “I’m not happy here.” should be good enough.

    Good luck!

  30. soitgoes*

    What can the OP expect in terms of a future reference if he/she doesn’t extend the notice period? I see that being a factor.

    1. fposte*

      My guess is that if he does extend the notice period, the reference will be a moot point because he’ll never leave.

    2. Sherm*

      Personally, I wouldn’t let the threat of a bad reference keep me from walking away from a situation where I’m being severely used. If I felt that the employer would retaliate by giving a poor reference, I would think of who else could vouch for my work.

    3. Observer*

      None. But, I would say that the OP can expect a rotten reference regardless of how long and how many times the notice period is extended.

    4. Zillah*

      That might be fair if we were talking a company who wanted three weeks instead of two (for example), but at this point, the OP’s given more than enough notice. References are important, but not so important that you should do just about anything to appease them. (Especially since people that hard to appease aren’t super reliable in the first place!)

  31. Scott*

    I can completely relate to this. I had two co-workers quit and was assigned their work, with NO addition compensation and NO plan to replace them. My boss told me that he was going to be creating a new position for me and to “hang in there” and that I would get a raise. A FULL YEAR went by and when I asked about it during my review I was told “hang in there”. Finally, after TWO YEARS, I gave notice after finding a new job and am now kicking myself and saying “why did I put up with that for so long?!?”

    Companies that want to keep key people have to keep them happy and that means a fair salary and a fair workload. Working people to death for below par salaries and then expecting them to stay on won’t cut it. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way. Don’t let your five weeks turn into two years!

    1. Florida*

      This company does sound like one where, no matter how much notice you gave, it would not be enough. I can easily see OP working at this position for a full year later, just like you, if she caves in.

      Agree with everyone else who said don’t give them any extra time, and don’t give an explanation other than, “I just can’t stay any longer.”

      Good luck.

  32. TheLazyB*

    OP my only suggestion is that you practice the conversation with your boss before you have it. Find someone you trust and get them to role play the manager for you. Get them to really, really push you, and just keep saying no. You’ll feel much better (… well at least a tiny bit more confident) about your ability to say no.

    Good luck. Like everyone else says, it’s them that’s in the wrong, not you. Don’t let them persuade you otherwise.

    (This is advice I really should take myself :/ )

    1. Nerd Girl*

      Practicing helps a lot. I make my husband stand in for the person I want to have a difficult conversation with and we go through it several times with him reacting different ways so that I am prepared no matter which way it goes. It’s really helped because I’m less likely to be thrown by a reaction and stick to what I need to say. Recently I had to tell my sister that I didn’t want her watching my kids after school anymore. I practiced that conversation several times with him reacting several different ways. I was happy for it. There was a little bit of everything in that interaction.

  33. Jo*

    If you feel you need to be able to give a rationally defensible reason to leave on your scheduled date, I can think of a great one:

    You don’t have another job lined up yet.

    You need to job search. That takes time and energy – resources you won’t have for as long as you stay at your current job. You say you plan to take your career in a different direction from what you’ve been doing, so your job search may require extra time and effort. Your current job is very demanding, and you won’t be able to give it OR your job search adequate attention if you try to do both simultaneously.

    Tell your boss, “Since I need to begin my job search in earnest as soon as possible, I unfortunately won’t be able to stay on past X date. After that, I’ll be entirely taken up with lining up my next job.”

    Know that you aren’t in the wrong here. You’re not obligated to give them this reasoning; I only mention it because it might help turn down the temperature and save you some discomfort (I totally don’t care about your employer’s discomfort) when the time comes to set a boundary.

    1. PuppyPetter*

      BUT! Be prepared for them to drag out the “It’s easier to get a job when you already HAVE one” adage.

  34. Jules*

    Hello me from 9 years ago.

    We (Asians) all understand the Asian’s need to safe face (I can’t be perceived as being not nice) and hence the whole passive aggresive behavior that is linked to it. One way to deal with your boss is to say that you need to leave on time because you have family/medical issues. Passive aggresive, yes but easy way out.

    The other way, is to complete all the work guide you can, create a good hand over list and praise your boss into thinking that he doesn’t need you. Actually, he does need the peon who puts up with being overworked and underpaid. Every new hire hence will see the amout of work and either balk or quit. Still passive aggresive but another way out.

    Or you could look him in the eye and say, “I am sorry but I can’t. I hate leaving you and the team this way but I have given ample notice and I can’t extend it anymore. When you do have someone new hired and need extra help, please have him/her contact me.” And when he trashes you and your character, remember, this is not about you, it’s about him. He’s overworked and underpaid you and he knows it. Listen to the crazy rants, apologize (I’m sorry you feel that way) and leave anyway. This is not about you, this is about him. He is trying to get what he wants and he will do what it takes by good or bad means. Don’t worry about the team you leave behind, they are in the same toxic environment as you are. They understand. e

    9 years ago I was in your shoes, underpaid and overworked. I left and never looked back. He threaten to call my future employer etc and I stayed quiet and just stared at him. Subsequently, he had to hire 2 people to take up everything that I did. Serves him right. Karma is a witch and he will get what is coming to him. Just stay calm, shut up and leave when it’s over.

    1. Anonsie*

      Staying quiet in the face of an absurd request or suggestion is a very, very powerful tool. Arguing against it gives more validation than it deserves.

  35. YandO*

    I am in a very similar situation and I probably should have walked out a week into this job, but I did not. So I am here. Struggling.

    They are bullying you and it’s completely unfair.

    I do have a concern though, which comes from having an employer that is similar.

    I need them to be my reference. They do not have any ethics. They have had horrible things to say about previous employees here. If they perceive mine or LW’s actions as “mean” or “selfish” or “inconsiderate” or “disloyal”, they can and, in my case will, give me or her a bad reference.

    What do we do now? How do we handle this situation without ruining our reputation?

    1. Observer*

      Start searching. Tell anyone who asks not to contact your current employer; this is common enough that most employers will respect it.

      Develop a network of people who can speak to your work, work ethic and character. And, if asked about your current boss, explain in as neutral a fashion as possible that this boss takes people leaving very personally and tends to allow that to overshadow anything else about a former employee.

      You need to take the risk – you can’t allow someone to hold you hostage forever by threats of a bad reference.

    2. Nerd Girl*

      My husband worked for a company that did what you’ve described here. The company president gave scathing references to anyone he thought was a traitor to him (basically anyone who left his company and refused to work for him). One employee decided to sue for slander based on the references his future employers were getting. It was a long, hard fought battle but he won. My husband left the company a short time after the former employee won his case and had no issues with his references, even though the president was horrible to work for those last two weeks. It’s been close to 6 years since he’s worked there and he still gets nightmares. It was a horrible workplace.

    3. Natalie*

      This is a common mistake made when dealing with unreasonable people. Sometimes we think that if we can appease or logic or magic them into reasonableness.

      There was an old experiment with rats where they hit a button to get food. Rats 1 got food every other time they hit the button, and learned the pattern. When the food was cut off, they gave up quickly. Rats 2 only got food once, and gave up on hitting the button at all. Rats 3 got food randomly, and when it was cut off they kept pushing the button indefinitely. Your boss sounds like a Rats 3 situation.

      1. Zahra*

        side note: it’s the way most games program their rewards: give some small ones, some medium ones and some great ones; with chances of winning them inversely proportional to their “greatness” or “coolness”. Still, since winning is random (i.e. you hear enough about people winning on their 1st or 10th try), you keep trying to get that extra-great, mega-rare item because you might get it this time.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Oh yes. There’s really no reason to be nice and accommodating to unreasonable people; it won’t do you any good and you’re really not morally obligated to be nice to people who treat you like crap, no matter what your mother or your kindergarten teacher said.

    4. Artemesia*

      Y0u will never get a good reference from people like this so you need plan B — who else can vouch for your work? Other jobs? Volunteer situations? And then you need a calm story about why they cannot be a reference. People understand retaliating employers who ‘didn’t want me to leave.’ Staying and being abused doesn’t improve the reference, if anything it empowers them to abuse you further.

  36. regina phalange*

    Alison is right, notice periods are not meant to be given so employers can hire and train your replacement. And as mentioned, companies have to be prepared to handle things like this – what if you quit with no notice and just didn’t show up? They’d have to move forward. My old manager used to call it a hit by a bus plan – morbid but true, because life happens and sometimes companies lose people without warning. You’ve been more than accommodating and it is now time to stand firm and say “no.” It’s an amazing feeling. good luck!

  37. Not So NewReader*

    OP when you get to thinking about how he says you are not being fair to him, counter-balance that thought with a thought about how he has not been fair to you. Fairness is a two way street.

    Honestly, his business plan is to bully people to stay in place and to pay them as little as possible in order to make ends meet.

    I am sure if we got into the nuts and bolts of it, you could start giving examples of how he did not always do business ethically, either. If this is the case, this is another tool you can use for yourself. You can tell yourself that you cannot work for people who do business unethically. It will tarnish your reputation and that is minor. You could end up in jail or owing incredible fines, in extreme cases.

    Please, let us know you made it out of there. You deserve better than this.

  38. BW*

    I don’t know what part of Asia OP is from, but I am Chinese and I definitely get you feeling like you cannot afford to “rip apart your face” (si po lian) with the company. Meaning you have to preserve peace on the surface, sometimes at all costs.

    So it’s not as simple a matter of say no and stick to your guns. Asian cultures just don’t have the same boundaries–For example it’s perfectly OK for us to ask complete strangers, “How much money do you make?” If you say no I can’t, the natural next question is “Why?” and if you say I can’t tell you then the next question is surely “Why not?”

    This situation really calls for a little white lie. I’ll think about it some more but so far I just don’t see any other way to get out of it other than say it’s something to do with your family, and something major–Hint that it’s something major and EMBARRASSING and that’s why you can’t say more about it. That is the only way to get out of this company and still have a chance of preserving the relationship. Saying you have unbreakable prior commitments and your last day can’t extend beyond X, but refusing to say what those prior commitments are and/or your reasons for refusing to reveal your reasons, will just make the conflict turn hostile.

    1. AW*

      In a way, this isn’t even a white lie: The prior commitment is that they promised themselves that they’d quit. Their well-being is a major deal and since the OP has a hard time saying “No”, even hinting that the reason is embarrassing isn’t a lie.

    2. Asian Teacher*

      Being Chinese myself, I can relate to what the OP is talking about regarding the guilt tripping and loyalty. I feel Asian companies/employers really expect a sense of loyalty that isn’t expected in American companies. Even though I was born in America, and have worked for 99% of the time for other Americans, I still do have that extreme Asian loyalty complex from my family. My last place of employment let me go, honestly because a couple of people didn’t like me personally and because I didn’t have kids (less guilt on their part.) But still I worked and did other people’s work and worked 3 additional days after my contract to help others. Professionalism yes, did they totally walk all over me, yes!

      OP, I would in your place say “no, I cannot work anymore past X. I have a personal situation I need to deal with.” Don’t make up a story because if you’re not good at lying, it will show even with practice. I’m sure your employer will ask why and just say “it is personal, thank you for this opportunity to work here more, but my last day is X.” I would then offer the suggestion of a temp. agency.

      GOOD LUCK! Working for really crap places really drain you.

    3. AnonForThisOne*

      This thread is so timely for me. My boss is Chinese (as are most of my coworkers and all of the board) and I am preparing to quit my job within the next few days. I’ve been at this company for a year and several people have been fired (I can think of 9 off the top of my head, in a 20-person company) but no one has ever quit, and I’m not sure how the boss is going to handle it. The replies to this thread have been very helpful in preparing me for what to say and how to say it.

      Once I’m gone I’ll have to post some of my stories from my time at this place. There are some DOOZIES.

      1. AnonForThisOne*

        Oops, make that 10 gone in the space of a year–one more was walked out today. No warning, no severance.

        1. This guy*

          That sounds extreme, I mean I get that there are those that don’t fit in a company culture and it’s good that they recognize that. But 10 people in one year seems like something else is going on. Please post those stories when you are able.

  39. Mishsmom*

    OP, i really feel for you. it’s these type of situations (where people have no shame in trying to take advantage of your being nice or fearing saying what you really want) that taught me how to be tougher. look at it this way, it’s awkward now, but remind yourself that once you’re out of there, a month, even a week later, the awkwardness is over and you probably will never see them again. it’s worth feeling awkward for a bit in order to get out of a bad situation. i see it like breaking up with someone – it’s awkward, but what’s your other option – staying and suffering with someone you can’t stand? good luck! :)

  40. TXreader*

    This was me nine years ago, except my boss fired my replacement the day before I was supposed to be done and expected me to stay until she found another one. I prepared very detailed notes on how to complete my daily tasks and suggested she hire a temp. Stick to your guns. It was like a ton of bricks off my chest when I walked out of that toxic place for the last time.

  41. AW*

    The reason they’ll try to insist on a reason is so they can try to argue you into staying. But you don’t need a good reason, or any reason, to quit.

    Your best bet is to follow the given advice and not give a reason. Stick to “That won’t be possible.” Failing that, BW’s advice to say you have a prior commitment but be non-specific as to what it is, is better than nothing.

    However, here is your backup plan if you should get dragged into a discussion as to why you’re leaving:

    “I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m still leaving.
    “I realize you’d like me to stay but I’m still leaving.
    “Those are some interesting points but I’m still leaving.

    Even if you flub saying no, even if you can’t stop yourself from needing to explain, even if they lay the mother of all guilt trips on you: “I’m still leaving. X is my last day.”

    And when they call you up after X (because it sounds like the might), “Sorry, X was my last day. I won’t be in.” In fact, if you can block their number you should do that as soon as you get home your last day.

    1. neverjaunty*

      One great way a friend taught me to handle this is with the word “Nevertheless.”

      Simply repeat yourself, but append the word “nevertheless” before it. The effect is to signal that you’re hearing and acknowledging the other person’s arguments, maybe even agreeing they have a point, but you will still be doing what you have said you will do.

      “You’re going to be leaving us with no replacement for you!”
      “Nevertheless, my last day is ______.”

      “We’re going to be a mess without you, how can you do this to us?!”
      “Nevertheless, my last day is ______.”

      This also lets you avoid being spineless or having your words twisted around because you’re not really arguing – you’re just robotically repeating your position – but it SOUNDS as though you’re having a discussion, albeit one you can’t lose.

  42. pony tailed wonder*

    OP – if this people pleasing is a pattern in your life that you want to quit, you might want to look into therapy. I have heard it works wonders in breaking bad habits and patterns. Perhaps other commenters can help you out with what kind of therapist to look for.

    And one thing that helps me is rewording songs to fit what I want to do in situations. Frozen’s Let It Go song can be rewording mentally in your head to Just Say No. I also run the Judy Garland song and dance routine through my head from an old movie, In the Good Old Summertime (1949), when she sings out “I Don’t Care” when pushy people want me to listen to their whole spiel and I am flat out not interested.

  43. pony tailed wonder*

    p.s. I just googled the lyrics to Let It Go – learning the whole song and letting it be your mantra for a while might work without the rewording.

  44. Wren*

    There really is no magic script or solution that takes into account your being a pushover. You need to steel yourself for this and stand up for your own needs. Do, however, have an answer prepared for when your boss tries to bargain and asks what he can do to make you stay. Your answer should probably still be, “I’ve made commitments to family members and others for the time after X. There is no way I can extend my final day.” If you bargain, then you’ve shown that – aha! – you can extend it. However, if there is something that would make you stay, it’s good to have that ready, but do consider that they could promise something and then not deliver it.

  45. OP*

    Thanks everyone for all the support and advice!!! The day has finally arrived…my replacement came into work as usual and at the end of the day he dropped the bomb on my manager (owner/president really) that he will not be staying. I snuck away before the whole ordeal ended to avoid having to stay after hours to deal with the aftermath. So it looks like I’m going to have my confrontation tomorrow. *Fingers-crossed!*

    I also just found out that they actually offered my replacement TWICE what they were paying me – so I’m definitely mad and fired up. (Although they had previously came back to me with a high counter offer when I first informed them of my resignation, the offer was nowhere near what my replacement was getting) So I’m looking forward to plainly telling them “NO, I cannot extend my stay. X-date was the latest day I can stay as I have advised previously. I have made commitments to family, friends and myself already that I need to keep.”

    I’ll be sure to update everyone of how it goes down tomorrow! Thanks again for all your amazing feedback!!

    1. Asian Teacher*

      Twice what they were paying you?!!!! I’m so mad for you! But I’m not surprised that an Asian employer did this, I feel Asian cultures revere the boys and don’t really try to hide it.

      1. OP*

        I know! I understood that my replacement have years of experience over me which might be why he got a much higher offer but regardless I was still doing the same work! And I think because this was my first job out of college and I accepted that horrible initial lowball offer they thought they could get away with it again at my annual review.

        1. Asian Teacher*

          Sorry to be a creeper, but how did it go? I hope you were able to be strong!!!

    2. ABC*

      OP – I know Americans won’t agree and will call it passive-aggressive/indirect but think up a reason (vacation, visit to family, familial commitments …what you will) to close out on working there any longer.

  46. Lamb*

    @AAM You’ve asked readers to let you know if there’s an ad issue; I’m on an iPhone and when I try to read from the main Ask A Manager page soon after the page loads an ad link loads which not only opens the ap store but closes the browser tab with AAM on it.

    1. Jeanne*

      I had that happen to me twice. I tried again and then the site worked ok. I thought I was pressing a link since I’m using an ipad.

  47. SBL*

    Remember: at some point you can JUST NOT GO TO WORK. After the 5th week…just don’t go.
    Ignore emails/phon ecalls from the office.

    1. Artemesia*

      And this ends the ‘negotiations’ and ‘conversation’. On Friday, block the office on your phone and go live your life.

  48. matcha123*

    OP, I feel where you’re coming from. So, let me tell you about my bf, who is Japanese, and was in a similar position a few years ago.

    He did a huge amount for his company and brought them a lot of money. But, they had him working until 10pm most days and he’d go in on the weekend and do “service overtime.” This is in Japan, btw.
    His boss gave him backhand compliments about how valuable he was, but told him he wasn’t worth getting a raise. He’d tell my bf that that company was the only one he could work at since he wasn’t a fresh grad anymore.

    Finally when the bf found a new and better job, the boss refused to let him quit. He said he wouldn’t sign the papers to acknowledge he quit. He pushed back. And as the bf’s end date closed in, he asked him to push back the time so they could find a replacement. They did find someone to replace him, a former coworker of mine, randomly enough. He helped her for a week before leaving when he said he would.

    If your boss was born and raised in Asia, he probably thinks that you stay with a company forever. Because who would hire someone who left their company? But, you don’t have to worry about that.

    When he comes at you, say that you’ve made up your mind to leave on that date and what you will do and the reasons for leaving are private. Have your things in order and when the date comes, leave. Send them any papers you’d need for government stuff. Good luck!

  49. Christine*

    Your story sounds awfully familiar to mine. My first job out of college was as a medical receptionist for a solo family doctor. Scheduling appointments, answering phones, taking copays, getting files ready…standard receptionist fare. In the three years I was there they hired two more doctors, got an on-site lab that I managed accounts for, transitioned over to electronic medical records, and I started doing prior authorizations and referrals as well. Then the office manager quit and I was “promoted” to take over all her work duties as well- with no new title or pay increase. I had many sit downs with the owner about how overworked I was (I literally did not have time to use the bathroom many days), how my new duties warranted a raise (was still making $10.50 an hour) , and how we also needed to hire additional help. I was told “no” many times despite at least 5 different sit downs where I rationally explained my situation. I finally decided to quit with no job lined up and gave 4 weeks notice. I was instructed to recruit, hire, and train my replacement. I hired a girl within two weeks and she left within 2 days because of the workload. Took me another week and a half to find another replacement, and when my resignation period was up the owner tried everything in her power to guilt trip me because the new hire wasn’t nearly up to speed. I stuck to my guns and kept saying that no “my last day would be X”. I ended up having to use the admin’s line about “other commitments”.

    I was friendly with one of the other doctors and kept in touch with her. It was sweet, sweet karma to find out that they eventually had to hire 4 people to take over my workload (at $11/hour each). So instead of just raising my pay a little extra and hiring someone at minimum wage to help, they ended up paying 4 times as much to get the same amount of work done after I left.

    (I ended up finding a job 2 weeks after I quit. I’ve been at that job for 6 years now and am happy to say I have a “career” now!).

  50. Camellia*

    Here is something it took me years to learn and makes all the difference in the world.

    1. Figure out exactly what you want to say and keep it simple. For example, “No, my last day will be X.”

    2. At home, start SHOUTING IT OUT LOUD. Don’t just THINK it! SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! Do this until your voice and your body and your brain get used to doing it and hearing it. 100 times. 1000 times. Whatever it takes.

    3. Then practice simply saying it in a firm voice. Over and over.

    4. Next, visualize different ways they might approach you on this, different things they might say. This is when you will start getting scared and start feeling wimpy. Each time, SHOUT ALOUD the words you want to say.

    5. Then reach the point when you start simply SPEAKING the words aloud. Over and over.

    6. Then you will be ready for them and will deal with this by doing what you have practiced because it will have become second nature to you.

    It’s not enough to practice in your head, else we would all be great dancers or basketball players or speakers. You have to actually PRACTICE. And the time to practice is before you need it so you will be ready when the time comes.

  51. Audiophile*

    When I left my job in July, I gave more than 3 weeks notice. And at the end of those 3 weeks, they still hadn’t found anyone to take my spot. I made a quick reference guide for the next person and didn’t let it stress me out in the least.
    I don’t remember them asking me to extend my notice, but even if they had, I wouldn’t have. It’s your employer’s responsibility to find your replacement. If it’s a priority for them, they’ll be concerned about it. You definitely can’t be concerned on their behalf. Even if you don’t have something lined up, you can still hold firm and say you cannot extend your notice period.

  52. Mostly Sarcasm*

    OP, you’re not “screwing them over” by leaving. Your boss is “screwing himself over” by keeping the workload and pay of the position at an unmanageable level for a reasonable person. That has nothing to do with you. Maybe after several people leave the position they’ll think about why people keep leaving.

    He’s not going to magically start respecting your boundaries. If you want them, you’ll have to set them.

    Would you consider staying if the pay was increased? If you don’t need the reference, you could counter-offer.

  53. SallyForth*

    Watch last week’s SNL skit about women saying what they want! It will give you courage!

  54. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Actually – what is worse – I once left a place over an un-resolvable salary dispute.

    I was at my new place a month – making a lot more money – and my phone rang – “When are you going to stop this foolishness and come back to work at (the old place)?”

  55. Lils*

    OP, I’m glad to hear it’s going better and I hope your “confrontation” with the boss tomorrow goes well.

    As I mentioned above, becoming more assertive is a learned skill. You can do it! I’m from the Southern US, where our culture is notoriously polite. Women, especially, are taught to please. I’ve learned to become a more assertive person while not pissing people off too often. I often think of myself as an iron fist in a velvet glove–I’m still warm and fuzzy, but when something is important to me, I will not bend.

    One thing that has worked for me is envisioning the impact of acquiescing on my health. I find that I can usually find the spine to say no if I think about the stomachaches, headaches, and general anxiety that will ensue if I don’t.

  56. Workfromhome*

    Best thing you can do if you are a “pushover” is to use written communication. That avoids the face to face confrontaion where you need to say no.

    Send an email

    Dear ____

    I wanted to send a reminder that my last day will be X. I will have all company property packed on on the desk when I eave at the end of day X.


    Then on day X get up and go home. Don’t come in after X no matter what happens.
    Even if they somehow make you seem to give in a little as long as you don’t give them a WRITTEN agreement to extend when you don’t show up the day after X there is nothing to be done. Your last day is writing. There is nothing in writing that says its any different. Don’t respond to any emails, phone calls etc after X.

    Go about your life they will eventually give up. Don’t even think about contracting for them. The dynamic between you and these jerks will NEVER change. They will continue to treat you as badly or WORSE if you do work under contract.

  57. Not telling*

    AAM is so good about addressing the non-verbalized issues in her letters…I’m kinda surprised you didn’t pick up on this.

    OP, the reason why you were working the jobs of 2-3 people for way less than you should have been paid to do the job of one person ISN’T because they are stingy. It’s because you are a pushover. You let them pile on way more work than anyone else would have done. You need to work on your assertiveness or you will end up in the same situation no matter what career you are in, no matter where you work.

    And I agree with the commentators above…don’t give an explanation as to why you cannot extend your notice period. It’s just fuel for them to wheedle more out of you. Just say, “No.”. Don’t give them anywhere to go with it.

  58. PJ*

    I’m going through a similar situation (not quite, but almost). After failing to pass a 3-month probation, I was asked to extend my notice period for one month. I believe it’s because they haven’t found a replacement and my position really is kind of important which is why they hired me in the first place even though it seemed from the beginning that we are not a good fit. In fact, they initially told me that my application was unsuccessful, and I was fine with that. A few days later, I got a call from them asking if I’m still interested. In need of a job, I said yes. They then gave me another exam which I passed, so they hired me. Having worked for this company for 5 months (my initial probation was delayed for a month), I can totally see where some of their hiring problems lie. And now I’m being asked to extend my notice period.

    Since I’m an expat who needs to keep a visa and work permit to legitimize my stay in this city that I now call my second home, I realize that the most reasonable thing to do is say yes. On the other hand, part of me wants to say no. I’m grateful to them for taking a chance on me, but I wasn’t happy with how my former manager (who has just resigned) made it seem like I’ve somehow deceived her/them into thinking that I misrepresented myself to be hired, which is how we got to this point where they think I’m not suitable for their needs. I did not deceive them, and as much as I’d like to get into the meat of that probation review, the more pressing concern for me right now is, should I accept the offer to extend? I have other options already lined up but the hiring process in these other companies will take several weeks. The obvious choice is to say yes, but I’m torn. What do I do?

  59. George*

    I have a situation. My manager ask me to extend my notice period and I agreed to it from 1 month to 1 month and a half months. However, right now she is giving me hell. I am mentally stress up and would like to tell her I do not want to extend anymore. What should I do? Regret it.

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