how do I give notice to my boss if they’re on vacation?

A reader writes:

I am planning to go back to school a month from now, to up-skill and ultimately career switch. Originally, I intended to provide my boss 2.5 weeks of notice before starting my program. However, I just found out this morning that my boss will be on a month-long vacation starting mid next week, which happens to coincide with my entire notice period. Now my original plans to resign are at significant risk as I do not want to burn bridges with my current team and employer. Here are the issues:

1. How do I give notice to my boss if they are on vacation?
2. Even if my boss finds out that I will be leaving while they’re on vacation, they cannot do anything to plan for the transition during their time off.
3. Unlike finding a new job, I cannot simply negotiate a later start date with the educational institution I plan to go back to school for. Start dates for classes are far less flexible than new jobs.
4. I may be blindsiding my boss if I announce my resignation. As we do not have a close relationship (we get along but on a very transactional level), I am not comfortable with informing them about my educational plans until I plan to provide my notice. The reason is that I’m afraid I will be pushed out or added to the dreaded layoff list once they learn that I’m no longer interested in my current position. I still need a paycheck until I resign.

What I plan to do is to talk to my program advisor for the school I plan to enroll into to see if I can be transferred to a later cohort, which is two months after the original one I enrolled in. This way, I can give notice after my boss returns. Although this isn’t the optimal choice for me, I am prepared to change my plans if the risks of my current situation are too big. Please advise on how I can navigate this sticky situation.

Don’t change your plans! You can still resign at the time you planned to.

If your boss is on vacation, you can give your resignation to their boss, or to HR if you have it. It’s true that your boss won’t be able to do anything to plan for the transition while they’re out, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. It’s inconvenient, but it’s definitely not something you should change your school enrollment over.

Side note: Some managers would prefer to hear the news while they’re out. (I used to be one of those, and I now realize how very unhealthy that was.) You don’t need to decide if this is the case for your boss. The person who you give your resignation to in their absence can make that call if they want to.

When you resign, you can say, “I realize this timing is really bad with Alex out. I’ll make sure to leave thorough documentation on where all my projects stand, and given the circumstances I can be available for a call or two once Alex is back if there are things they need to wrap up with me directly.” You don’t have offer that last bit, but if you generally have good will toward them, it can be a good thing to offer.

In a different set of circumstances — where you didn’t worry you’d be pushed out earlier than you want to leave — it might make sense to give your notice now, before your boss leaves for vacation. But you’re not required to risk losing several weeks of income just to make things easier for your employer (and if they want people to do that, they need to build a culture where people know it’s safe to).

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. CharlieBrown*

    The important thing to remember is that there is never a perfect time to resign. People resign all the time; it’s just a part of doing business or running an organization.

    Do what’s right for you. Don’t push off your enrollment date. You have a plan, so stick to it. The business you’re leaving will be fine.

    1. BubbleTea*

      The other thing to remember is that you’re giving your resignation to an organisation, not to an individual. Your manager is the company’s representative in the day to day details of your employment relationship, but if they had quit and been replaced, it would be a different individual occupying that role. The same is true when your manager is on leave.

  2. I should really pick a name*

    I’m afraid I will be pushed out or added to the dreaded layoff list once they learn that I’m no longer interested in my current position

    Does you company often push people out? My first thought was to just give notice before your boss leaves.
    Is there a real risk of your company doing layoffs in the one month you have left?

    1. M2*

      I wouldn’t do this. If you felt comfortable I would give notice now, but sounds like LW does not so I would give it when boss is out. The last thing I would want as a manager would be to hear about a resignation the day or couple days before I was going on a long vacation!

      1. KHB*

        And the last thing I would want as a manager would be to hear about a resignation when I got back from vacation, with the resigning employee already gone.

        Which is to say: You can spend all day trying to guess other people’s preferences, but as often as not, you’ll be wrong. Instead, focus on doing what’s best for you. If you care about your other team members and the work you’ve been doing (e.g., if you have a project you’ve been working on that you want to make sure ends up in capable hands), consider doing what’s best for them. But if the boss is the type of person to hold a grudge against you for resigning at an inconvenient time, they’ll find a way to do that regardless – because there is no perfectly convenient time.

        1. Smithy*

          Absolutely this.

          I once gave notice in a very weird way that my boss hated, and I wouldn’t entirely recommend….but it ultimately really helped me out, I didn’t have a huge amount of other options, and if I had to do it over again – I’d do it exactly the same way.

          Basically I was working in a country with different labor protections than the US, and standard notice would have been 1 month but my boss clearly expected 2. I had been having a difficult time finding/keeping apartments and when I was about to lose my last one, decided it was just time to return to the US and negotiated staying in the place for another 3 months. During that 3 month period, I already had a 3 week vacation planned to the US. So I gave my boss the full 3 months but with the expectation of still keeping that 3 week vacation in the middle.

          She hated it and complained all the time about it. But I knew she really was not in a place to have me leave early. Having that 3 week vacation, meant I had an extra trip to bring stuff back to the US before the final move and while it wasn’t an amazing notice period – it worked for me. I also knew there was no way I’d ever be asked to leave early.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            If you don’t mind me asking, what was the problem with the apartments? I sometimes dream about moving to other countries, but this situation sounds terrifying.

        2. Vaguely Saunters*

          But surely a manager who’s away a month, has left a delegate (or several) who can address whatever arises before the manager returns? That’s what I always do.
          It’s on the delegate to then do whatever’s needed, including informing the person on vacation if it’s interuption-worthy.

          If no delegate, then the 2-up, cc to HR is logically who to inform/write to to at the time. Just as Alison advised.

          There is no benefit in advising early if there’s any risk they’ll be exited early for the employer’s convenience.

    2. Gracely*

      Never EVER give notice early if there is even the slightest chance you’ll be pushed out early.

      It is not worth it.

    3. Me ... Just Me*

      This. And, usually with lay-offs there’s a severance and no obstacle to receiving unemployment benefits. This could actually work in the OP’s favor, financially.

    4. JSPA*

      If there a “dreaded layoff list” exists, then yes, they do, and OP is wise to stay off the list.

    5. ferrina*

      I originally missed the sentence about the layoff list, and was thinking LW should just give notice before the boss goes on vacation. It’s pretty normal to leave a job to go back to school, and it’s pretty thoughtful to give a longer notice.

      BUT when you have reason to think you’ll be pushed out or laid off before you want to leave, your first priority should be to make sure you have what you need. If you need to give just 2 weeks notice, then do that. Don’t feel bad about this- the company brought it on themselves by not making it safe for employees to give longer notice.
      (That said, I echo Me…Just Me’s comment about layoffs. Often there is severance given, which could work in LW’s favor).

  3. CLC*

    I don’t think they would lay you off when you are leaving voluntarily—it would cost them in unemployment insurance.

    1. lost academic*

      Once you’ve given notice it’s not at all unusual to be told a different departure date then the one you’ve offered and while I am not a lawyer, I don’t think that it puts them in a position where they have to pay unemployment in the United States. At every company I’ve given notice for I’ve proposed a departure date and it’s been negotiated. Some roles it’s normal to offer X weeks and be walked out as soon as it’s practicable, including right that minute. Whenever you give notice you have to know there’s a risk that your income from that role ends immediately.

      1. Nina*

        > Whenever you give notice you have to know there’s a risk that your income from that role ends immediately.

        Yikes. Yeah, where I live your employer has to pay you your normal wages/salary up to the day you said would be your last day, regardless of whether they want you to do anything at all in the meantime or not. Most places opt to have people work their notice, because they have to pay that person’s wages either way.

      2. Engineery*

        US States differ, of course, but IME it’s common for you to be eligible for unemployment insurance in the gap between your involuntary termination and your resignation date. But it’s also common for UI to only pay after a period of 1 or 2 weeks of continuous unemployment, so if you offer 2 weeks and get perp-walked that day, you might never hit UI eligibility.

    2. KatEnigma*

      No unemployment payout at all if the person resigns, even if you perp walk them out immediately. Why would you think the company would have to pay?

      1. CharlieBrown*

        This really depends. If they pay you for your notice period, even if you’re not working, that’s one thing. But if they say, nope, your last day is today and you’re not getting paid for anything after today, then you have a case for unemployment benefits.

        It’s not about when you stop working, it’s about when they stop paying you.

      2. Combinatorialist*

        That’s actually not always true. If you resign with notice and they tell you to leave immediately (and also don’t pay you), you absolutely can be eligible for unemployment for the gap. Now it might be a lot of hassle, but it isn’t true the company is just off the hook.

        1. Army of Robots*

          My company doesn’t accept “unexpected” notice — if you hadn’t been working with your boss on internal and external options, you get walked if you try to give notice — but they tell you that when they hire you. So that might make people ineligible for unemployment? Not sure how that works in my state.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            What does this mean: “working with your boss on internal and external options”?

            Telling someone in advance that you’re planning to treat them like a criminal if they try to quit doesn’t make it any better IMO, but I don’t know exactly what you’re saying here. Do you not live in an at-will employment state where you can quit at any time?

  4. Tired of Working*

    Give notice immediately. Send your boss an email. As Alison said, give notice to your grandboss and HR if they exist.

    Once when I applied for a job at XYZ Company, I was told by the owner that the person who had held that job had quit because she wanted to work for a big company. (XYZ consisted of five employees, including the owner. The owner was the boss. There was no boss or HR.) After I started working there, the owner told me that she had fired my predecessor because she was lazy and didn’t do her job. Eventually a coo-worker told me that my predecessor had found another job and intended to give the owner two weeks notice, but the owner was on vacation. Even though my co-worker urged her to email the owner, the predecessor decided to wait until the owner returned to give notice, which obviously resulted in giving less than two weeks notice. The owner was furious and told her to leave immediately and said that if she ever had to provide a reference for her, she would say that she fired her. Because she truly believed that she fired my predecessor, because she forced her to leave the company before my predecessor wanted to leave the company.

    Don’t risk being thrown out because they allege that you didn’t give sufficient notice.

    1. lost academic*

      That boss is loony tunes and wouldn’t be a good reference in any circumstances! Good to know it up front before needing to ask, I suppose.

      1. Massmatt*

        This kind of awful behavior is why many employees give little or no notice. I would certainly not give more than the minimum to a boss I heard this about.

        IMO the loss of a good reference is often blown up to be bigger than it is. If you got the job you’re leaving for without the reference from your current job, well, why would you need it for the next one? Also, you can always use a coworker instead of the boss. And such a terrible boss is unlikely to give a good reference in any case.

        1. Love to WFH*

          I know my reference folks were never contacted for my current job, and I think they weren’t for the previous one, either. That’s ridiculous, of course — I would never hire that way — but it is convenient for situations like this.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      How would this apply if LW gives notice to their boss’s boss, though? And emails their boss while on vacation perhaps at her work email.

      I think if the boss hasn’t made it safe to give more notice then LW absolutely shouldn’t give more notice.

      This also makes me think of the saying the devil you know – LW KNOWS that there’s a risk of being made to leave earlier or laid off. What you described is an unusual situation where the person didn’t actually provide 2 weeks notice plus the boss had a disproportionate (and inappropriate in my view) response.

      I don’t think the LW should do something that would likely trigger the devil they do know in hopes of avoiding a less-likely devil they don’t know.

    3. Observer*

      Any boss that reacts that way is ALSO going to react poorly to longer notice. And that’s a bigger risk to the OP. They will still be risking the bad reference *and* they would be risking more pay than if the OP gives 2.5 weeks notice.

      If the boss has a habit of doing this, he’s lost any standing to demand longer notice.

      Keep in mind your boss was either delusional or lying, in claiming that he fired you predecessor because she was lazy.

      1. Dona Florinda*

        I agree with Observer: sounds like this boss would react badly no matter how and when the employee gave notice. OP should stick to Alison’s advice, especially if they already have a feeling that they might get pushed out earlier.

    4. Kelly*

      I worked for a loony tunes, toxic boss and you couldn’t give notice the correct way regardless of how you did it. I wouldn’t base any recommendations on outliers like him unless you know your boss is a wacko.

      (My coworker gave him notice while he was on a multi week vacation so he could have plenty of time to start finding someone new. He made her life a living hell for ruining his vacation. I gave mine a couple weeks later when he returned. He was equally angry about it because he “didn’t have enough time to find someone.” You can’t win.)

      1. Observer*

        Your story is a perfect example.

        Thanks for sharing. And I’m sorry you had to deal with that garbage.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I think you meant to reply to the post above, and also yes, you said really succinctly what took me multiple paragraphs and and analogy :D

  5. NotADuck*

    I really struggled leaving my last job a few months ago. Originally, my application to the new position was on a whim, and I didn’t expect it to go well. Then very quickly (in about a week) I was offered the new role–but my boss was on vacation when I submitted my three weeks’ notice. The day she returned to the office (a week into my three weeks), she left within an hour of arrival because she learned her mother became terminally ill with a very short prognosis. I felt AWFUL.

    I could barely look at myself in the mirror and felt as though I were a true monster for leaving when she was going through so much turmoil. However, none of that was under my control. We only overlapped at work for a few days during my remaining time and her mother passed away while I was still on her team. We cried together, I gave her my condolences, and she asked how I was doing. I decided to be honest, sharing that I felt immense guilt and conflict. She reassured me that there was no need, because she wanted me to be happy and to focus on my professional growth. We have a good relationship (rare to see on AAM, I know!) and I plan to see her tomorrow for the first time since I left three months ago.

    Sometimes, the timing isn’t right, but it’s better to be true to yourself. A good boss will support your professional and educational goals, even if it’s difficult for them in the moment. A bad boss will try to emotionally blackmail you to stay longer, and you wouldn’t want to waste anymore time working for someone like that anyway.

    1. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I’m glad you took the new job. May I recommend thinking about why you had such an over the top reaction? Thinking of yourself as a monster for a run of the mill resignation implies you have some messed up feelings of obligation or loyalty to your workplace.

      Feeling awful *for* your boss and her mom, sure. Feeling awful about yourself, no. (I mean, you should never tell yourself you’re a monster, but especially not about work stuff.)

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I don’t think this is a fair assessment literally at all. This person felt like a monster because they have empathy. They recognize their former boss as a colleague that they care about, like, and have a positive relationship with. In most people, that causes feelings of empathy. They understand that this person they like is going through a lot and having to deal with losing a good employee adds onto the stress that former boss is under (they will need to find a replacement while they are not in the best frame of mind to do that, work will need to be shifted onto other people’s plates and perhaps former boss’ plate in the meantime at a time when former boss’ mind is going to be elsewhere, etc.). Many, many people are emotional about leaving jobs even when the circumstances have no such additional factors. This commenter absolutely did nothing wrong and clearly knows that (“none of that was under my control”), but felt bad about the timing. That’s a very normal human response and I don’t like the implication that there must something wrong with the commenter for feeling the way they did.

    2. Budgie Buddy*

      Even if your boss doesn’t support your goals for after you leave the company, they should be professional enough to realize that employees have those goals and plan around that. I mean, it’s not really their business why you’re leaving and they’re not required to have any opinion about it one way or the other, or offer support beyond a reference.

  6. Monday Monday*

    This happened to me recently. In order to give 2 weeks, I had to notify my boss while they were on vacation. I got a new job offer (letter in hand) late on a Thursday night and told them Friday. I knew way in advance but waited until I had the actual letter and signed the papers.

    My manger was returning on that Monday, but that would not have been the full 2 weeks and I had a senior role in the group.

    Prior to going out for vacation, they said we could call or text if needed. I sent a text and asked if they had time for a chat. I had a good relationship with them and a long history at the company. We were still working from home because of COVID. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do it in person anyway.

    It went really well.

    I also knew I was planning on leaving the job or company, so I had been preparing for a while. Making sure I had things documented, etc. and in my conversation with my manager, I made it a point to say that I already started on a transition plan document, and I could train someone on it before I left.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I had a similar situation. I wanted to talk to my boss in person for various reasons, but they were offsite and it didn’t line up right away. In the end they accepted my desired end-date being that I had reached out prior to their return. If they had not been available, I would have handed in my resignation to their deputy and HR (as there was a formal process via HR, too).

  7. Over It*

    I would opt to give notice before your boss leaves for vacation, unless your company/boss has a history of reacting poorly whenever people give notice. And loop in your boss’ boss as well. Two weeks is standard in the U.S. and generally the minimum you should give, but longer notices can be helpful for everyone if it feels reasonable to do so. When I left a job to go to grad school, I knew my plans well ahead of time and gave about three months notice. Even though I was relatively junior, the extra notice allowed for a much smoother transition. But this is definitely a know your workplace situation.

  8. GladImNotThereNow*

    That actually happened to me (the company that inspired my username). I hadn’t actually known my direct supervisor was going to be on vacation when I had decided to leave, but I submitted my resignation to his boss. My last day happened to be the day my supervisor returned… so… surprise! Apparently no one else in the organization informed him while he was out, and I had no way to contact him myself. I already had secured employment elsewhere (17 yrs and counting now at my current place!) so I wasn’t concerned about bridge burning and such, but it was odd timing.

  9. Heavy Breather*

    No hate to this lw, but it makes me so sad that someone would change their schooling plans just because of this.

  10. Uncle Bob*

    I wonder how many people in the US have either declined a job or decided not to interview because of a persistent fear that if they leave space/time itself will collapse into a unrecoverable hole.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      This. I think Stockholm Syndrome is interwoven into capitalism. Which is why “we’re a team/we’re a family” is so prevalent.

      If you’ve got plans, then stick with them. If the company you leave behind goes belly up (or disappears into a black hole) without you, then it wasn’t properly managed to begin with and you’re better off not being there.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Funny, because I think it’s holdover Puritanism. Work hard. No, harder. Feel guilty you can’t work harder than that.

      2. GreenShoes*

        There is also a smidge of egotism at play too. Which is what I read into the Uncle Bob’s comment. And I say this without judgement because most tend to think this way (especially early in careers) I know I did. There’s a feeling of “If I’m not there to sort the paperclips it won’t get done!”

        I think it’s when you get a little farther and/or see things from the other side that you realize, “nah they’ll be fine, they’ll figure it out without me” and it stops being a moral dilemma.

  11. Lynn*

    LW, if it makes you feel any better — it is unreasonable that your boss is taking a month vacation, leaving in four weeks, and this is the first you are hearing of it, and that’s on them.

    1. GreenShoes*

      Huh? Presumably the boss is working with their boss to figure out coverage while they are out. How much notice should a boss give their employees for vacation to be reasonable?

      1. ABCYaBYE*

        I had a boss take four weeks once and she told us three months in advance. It was unusual at the company to have someone take that much time (mostly because no one had built up that much time), which is why she may have let us know that far in advance. But I don’t think it is odd that someone is just hearing of their boss being gone for a month only a month out.

        1. GreenShoes*

          No, neither do I. That’s why I was asking what the previous person expected. I also got the impression that the OP was on the junior side of their career and an individual contributor. (Of course I could be wrong with that impression). An employee at that stage generally just needs to know X will be out and Y will be in charge at that level.

    2. Leenie*

      It’s really not unreasonable at all. It’s still a month before the vacation. And, in this case, it wouldn’t have made a difference if the LW knew about her boss’s time off earlier. If she’s not going to give more than 2-weeks notice now, she wouldn’t have given more than 2-weeks notice a month ago. It’s fine that LW is only giving two weeks, and I’m not trying to imply otherwise. My point is just that earlier knowledge of the boss’s vacation wouldn’t have changed anything.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I mean, if I only hear the day before, that might make it inconvenient. But a month before?

  12. The Person from the Resume*

    Follow Alison’s advice. Do not change your plans. I’m shocked you were considering it.

    When your boss is out you should already know or be told who is in charge. Tell that person the same thing you would tell you boss about resigning.

    I’m not advocating people not taking vacation, but work continues while people are on vacation and they may return to some surprises. That’s just work life.

  13. GreenShoes*

    Honestly it’s a running joke now in my team. The last 4 times I’ve taken more than a single day off in a row I’ve come back to a resignation. Once was my boss, then an employee, a team member, and the last time it was my boss (again!)

    In all cases it was fine. My boss’s told me when I returned and my employee resigned to my boss in my absence and started transitioning.

    OP, keep your plans. Resign to your grand boss with HR and your boss in copy. If your boss is going to be keeping an eye on email then send a separate note saying anything you would have said in person. Work on wrapping everything up and ask your grandboss how they want to handle your work transition.

  14. Nathan*

    I don’t understand point #4. You’re leaving in A MONTH, and yet you’re not going to tell your boss before she leaves on vacation because you’re afraid you’ll be laid off beforehand? Based on your word choice I’m assuming you’re in a non-US country, which means I’m not familiar with the laws and customs around these things, but to me that feels odd. It seems like the easy solution to your problem is to talk to your boss TODAY.

    That said, Alison’s advice is also good in that if you desperately don’t want to have this conversation now, you do still have options.

    1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      One of my former (US) companies would perp walk everyone the day they gave notice. It isn’t that uncommon. Bummed me out that they were getting desperate when I left and didn’t perp walk me, I was kind of counting on the extra 2 weeks!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I had a former job that used to perp walk everyone the minute they gave notice, so people used to plan their departures accordingly. Except when my coworker gave notice, they for some reason didn’t perp walk her and instead started discussing how the next two weeks would go. She had assumed they would throw her out like everyone else and had planned her new start date accordingly, and was left in the weird/uncomfortable position of telling them she couldn’t give two weeks.

        Maybe she should have planned to give notice anyway, but it was our first job out of college and literally no one else served out a notice period, so I don’t blame her doing that, I just felt bad that she was left in that position.

      2. Guin*

        Lots of financial companies, especially, shut all your access down and send security to escort you out within fifteen minutes of your resignation. Security protocols, etc.

    2. Jamtoday*

      My partner and I work in wildly different industries, and both will walk you out the same day you give notice. It (usually) isn’t personal, just standard operating procedure.

    3. Not Alison*

      But if they are not going to perp-walk OP out when notice is given, I would talk to the boss before the boss leaves on vacation. If my staff person knew they were leaving for school (and not a job opportunity that was finalized while I was on vacation) and didn’t mention it to me, it would definitely make me think negatively about that person when they needed a reference from me.

      1. St Paul Ite*

        I know it’s not customary for all, but many companies don’t allow managers to give references per se. Every company I’ve worked for will only ever confirm start and end dates and job title. Several even instruct managers to have callers call the HR department for that information.

        Therefore, not getting a reference from
        a former manager is a non issue.

      2. Doing the math*

        Yeah, I realize I’m a minority opinion, and I’m trying to take LW at their word… but their words make me wonder about the odds that the layoff list have the impact OP imagines.

        OP has 4 weeks prior to school starting.
        OP was planning to give 2.5 weeks notice. So, 1.5 weeks from NOW.
        That means, the “lay off list” concern is only relevant for the next 1.5 weeks.

        I’m not saying that’s impossible, and I’m SURE it’s happened somewhere. But, if I were talking with OP, I’d ask what makes them think these layoffs are 1.5-week imminent. (Because, layoffs after that point are after your notice.) Also, I’d consider the possibility of severance and that you would be eligible for unemployment. In other words: Imagine the worst plausible outcome from giving notice now – and is it really as bad?

        Add to that: OP is so concerned about the ramifications of not giving notice while their boss is around that they are considering DELAYING SCHOOL (don’t do that)… It makes me think that there IS evidence that boss is going to have a bad taste in their mouth over an employee who didn’t mention they were planning to leave for school with only 4 weeks to go. I’d question your judgment, if you were my staffer… There is a trade-off to this decision, which I do think Alison neglects.

        Maybe you don’t need the reference, and then who cares. Maybe it’s clear they are 1 week away from layoffs or its proven to have wildly capricious leadership, and that risk is way too great. But the timing makes me wonder if it’s not as catastrophic as you are imagining, and you should at least factor in the cost. But don’t delay school. Food for thought.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          My assumption is that this reference won’t matter. They’re planning to change fields and if it ever comes up it’s pretty easy to explain that their boss feels animosity because OP resigned during the boss’ vacation. OP could even lie and say that they learned now that this kind of thing can burn bridges and say they’d handle it differently in the future, even if they wouldn’t because they shouldn’t need to.

          It’s so unlikely to come up though. Just don’t ask this manager for a reference if you know they are sour about you quitting and it shouldn’t matter, like you say. Shouldn’t be too hard to pick up work while in school without that reference and two or three internships deep OP will be using people from those jobs as references because they are more recent and in the new field.

        2. LJ*

          Yeah this. Getting laid off just before you’re ready to quit is probably the *best* time to be getting laid off (well, if there ever was a good time for such a thing). I could almost understand it if OP was hoping to delay their notice because they hoped to get *on* the layoff list in the mean time, but the stated reason just doesn’t make sense from the outside. Bureaucracies don’t move in a day. Give your notice before your boss leaves, end on a high note. And definitely don’t delay school

      3. Engineery*

        If one of my employees did this to me, I’d feel badly that the employee didn’t trust me enough to protect their employment status during their notice period and provide an honest reference.

        Thinking negatively about such an employee proves the employee’s point. You want notice as soon as the employee has decided they are leaving, which is not an appropriate thing to expect, and you intend to punish them (negative reference) for giving a perfectly professional 2-week notice instead of the arbitrarily longer notice you feel entitled to. Can you really blame your employee if they worry you’ll further punish them by not letting them work through their notice, and mitigating the damage by keeping that notice as short as professional courtesy allows?

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Presumably OP wants to ensure they’ll have income for the next two weeks, if not four. Giving notice now doesn’t guarantee that.

  15. Mim*

    Try turning this on its head for a moment: A manager’s decision to be on vacation for an entire month should not in effect hold employees hostage in their positions until they get back. You are under no obligation to rearrange your life because of your boss’ vacation plans! Either your employer has a plan to deal with unexpected things like this (or any of a number of other things) during your boss’ vacation or they don’t. Hopefully they do. But it’s their job, not your job, to figure out how to keep things running smoothly. Give 2 weeks notice, and try not to feel bad. I totally get it — I would also feel awkward, and hate causing people discomfort or inconvenience. But 2 weeks notice is absolutely reasonable, and it’s not your responsibility to work out the logistics other than that.

  16. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    Nobody at a managerial level takes a month long vacation and thinks that everything will just be status quo while they are gone. Either someone deputized has the authority to do stuff or that is pretty poor planning on bosses part.

    Don’t change your plans, don’t change your notice window.

  17. Tesuji*

    If you work for the kind of company that punishes people for giving early notice, they’re the ones who created this problem, not you.

    You owe your company exactly as much loyalty as they owe to you. If they’ve demonstrated that they will show none to you, that’s your answer. Only a fool harms themselves out of loyalty to a company that would discard them in a heartbeat.

    Honestly, the fact that the LW is this tied up in knots over wanting to do what is best for a company that she recognizes would screw her over in a heartbeat is very sad. I very much hope that she’ll have a chance during her time at school to get the therapy she needs to deal with this level of people-pleasing.

  18. Budgie Buddy*

    I think when you’re leaving the most helpful thing you can do for your team is leave strong documentation, even if your notice period is short or happens at a weird time.

    When one of my coworkers left, I ended up writing the job posting for her position. So while she was working out her notice I pulled her over so she could weigh in on the list of skills and duties I was writing. It helped me include the relevant programs and so on.

    If the job description has changed during your time at the company, making a list of all the stuff you take care of could be a lot of help to whomever is tasked with hiring the replacement or filling in for your role. Whatever documentation you worked with stating out may be obsolete if you’ve updated processes or taken on different tasks.

    Which is many words to say – resign when it works best for you. But if you’re feeling guilty, there are many ways to support your team besides extending your notice period.

  19. ABCYaBYE*

    Don’t change your plans. Do not move into the next cohort. Don’t give notice before you’re comfortable doing so.
    Your boss’s plans (especially vacation plans) should not have any sort of impact on your plans for your future. You’re obviously a very courteous and conscientious person for having the thoughts you’re having, and I admire that in you. But you can and should be selfish. Especially in a situation like this. You’re leaving to further your education! If you’re concerned that you might be pushed out if you give longer notice, then don’t give longer notice. People give notice at times that aren’t convenient to the employer, but the employer figures it out.

  20. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    One thing I would add is if you can, leave a note or send an email to your boss near to when you leave. I’d assume that you would say some sort of goodbye when you leave so the note or email could be in lieu of that.

    Also, if you are worried that this might affect a reference see if there is someone else who you could get a reference from or talk to HR. I could see a petty boss giving a bad reference because the person left while he was on vacation. Especially if they know that it was for school because that’s not usually something that just happens with a few weeks’ notice.

    good luck OP with school!

  21. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    There is no good time for this stuff.

    One past employer, they were on their annual family vacation (it was a family-owned company, with three of the four brothers involved and two wives) and I had to tell them while they were away for three weeks in Maine.

    Sorry, too bad! One of them came back early to start the hiring process to replace me. It’s no fun for them but that’s what can happen when you run a business.

  22. Sassy SAAS*

    If it makes OP feel any better, I gave my notice to my boss when they were at Disney. Like in line for a ride at Disney in Florida, had to hang up within a minute or two because they were about to get on said ride. I certainly didn’t plan to or want to give my notice like that, but that was unfortunately how the timing worked out! I followed up the call with my email notice of course, but you have to do what’s best for you! Good luck with the upcoming semester!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got a notice that way too, yep. (Literally almost. I was in line for the Jungle Cruise when I got a text heads-up.)

  23. Kays*

    I would have just given my boss a heads up before they went on leave, but I’m not American so maybe it’s different here. Also in my job you would only bring HR in at the very end to assist with the seperation paperwork. You would never go to HR first. so alisons advice sounds extremely different to my workplace.

  24. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I’m laughing a bit at this letter because I had a Terrible Boss years ago and everyone used to quit while Terrible Boss was on vacation. Obviously the timing was coincidental, but it was very funny that it seemed like at least 50% of the time she was on vacation, someone would give notice. Her vacations weren’t ever more than a week, either. When it was my turn to quit, I had to wait around all day for her to show up because she decided to come in super late without telling anyone because she was buying a new car.

    1. Mim*

      This reminds me of how, when asking a co-worker for advice on whether I should give notice the same day I got an offer (during my lunch break) or wait until the next day when I could write a letter, he quickly told me to do it the next day. This was retail. Giving notice was already over-achieving. But I waited, and later realized that he probably told me to do that because he wasn’t going to be in the next day, so wouldn’t have to endure the wrath of Toxic Boss when he was still all worked up. (This was the kind of person who took someone trying to politely resign from a crappy retail job as a personal insult. Like, 40 year old man having a toddler tantrum. I should have just ghosted.)

  25. The Cat*

    It seems like you’re giving far more deference to your employer than they would give to you if they decided to let you go. This is their problem to work out, not yours.

  26. Alan*

    Re “and if they want people to do that, they need to build a culture where people know it’s safe to”… I love this so much. If you want to hear bad news from your employee, make it safe for them to tell you! If you don’t do that, prepare to be blindsided. It’s not just people leaving, it’s problems employees observe, it’s failures they’ve discovered, all sorts of things. So many businesses somehow don’t realize that how they treat their employees has consequences, both good and bad.

  27. Massmatt*

    Maybe this is normal for the location and industry for the LW, but I was struck with how the boss was taking a MONTH of vacation, and what, expecting all work and life to be on hold for their reports? Is there no interim boss handling things in their absence?

    Same with the letters from people whose bosses are “never around”, either to deal with problem coworkers or giving notice. If you are an absentee boss, you give your employees little choice but to do things by email or voicemail.

    1. GreenShoes*

      I sincerely doubt the manager expects her team to go into stasis during their vacation. I think the OP is catastrophizing a bit in hopes of not doing the wrong thing. It is more likely that the boss is a normal and reasonable person who understands life will continue while they are gone. I’m sure there are backups and coverage in place and the OP will be able to give notice on their schedule just fine.

      I’m struck that an earlier letter prompted all of the daft things that we didn’t know when we started working and yet not reading this letter in the same light.

  28. Here for the Insurance*

    I find letters that worry about burning a bridge kind of sad.

    If you work in a relatively normal place, quitting a job is just something that happens and people roll with it. That’s not to say they’ll be ecstatic or it might not make their work life a little more challenging, but it’s normal. In those cases, as long as the leaver is considerate and doesn’t trash the place on the way out, there shouldn’t be a burnt bridge. Reasonable people react reasonably. Reasonable people also tend to be somewhat flexible, because they understand that life upends the best laid plans.

    On the other hand, if you work in a dysfunctional place full of unreasonable people, they’re more likely to take it worse. But here’s the thing: it’s not the leaver that’s doing it. It’s the employer’s own dysfunction and unreasonableness. If there’s a burnt bridge, they’re the ones holding the match, not you. And in those cases, there probably isn’t a way you could leave that wouldn’t have set them off, because they’re dysfunctional and unreasonable. There’s absolutely no point in twisting yourself into a pretzel in these situations.

    I hate, hate, hate to see people take on the emotional responsibility for other people’s nonsense.

  29. Guin*

    I had a coworker who was in an extremely unsafe domestic situation. Our boss was on vacation, and my coworker had to leave, literally in the middle of the night, with her child. Sometimes crap happens. It’s not the worker’s responsibility to make things nice for their manager. As Alison says, you are resigning from the organization, not from your boss.

  30. Sparkles McFadden*

    I have been on both sides of this and can confidently say that it is not your problem to solve. Functional managers know that people leave all of the time. Dysfunctional managers can’t plan for anything no matter how much notice you give them. Give the notice on a timeline that works for you. If your boss is on vacation, notify your grandboss. Document as much as you can. Be polite and professional. Best of luck in your school program!

  31. cncx*

    AAM’s advice is perfect, I would also add that she is spot on about the call as to whether or not to inform boss on vacation is on the person you resign to. That’s not OP’s problem and if this is boss’ boss or a peer, they have more standing to decide if this is an interruption or not. I resigned during my grand boss’ (who was also my dotted line boss as site lead) daughter’s destination wedding once, and his peer made the call to tell him.

  32. Marie*

    Just a reframe – your boss is taking a MONTHS long vacation. This is a business consequence to taking a literal month off of work – not being able to plan if an employee gets sick, resigns, etc.

  33. DrSalty*

    Your boss shouldn’t be offended or offput if you give notice and then complete your entire notice period while they’re out. Honestly, if you choose to go on a month long vacation, you’ve got to be at peace with the fact that you might miss some stuff.

  34. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I had to give notice to a job while the manager was on vacation. I gave it to the “second in command” in my group, professionally and behind closed doors.

    One thing to remember = when you resign and give your 2/3 weeks notice = DO ACT PROFESSIONALLY. Management may try to goad you into angrily acting otherwise.


  35. kiki*

    “The reason is that I’m afraid I will be pushed out or added to the dreaded layoff list once they learn that I’m no longer interested in my current position. I still need a paycheck until I resign”

    I would see if your job has a history of pushing people out early without pay. I know some places do that, but I’ve given extra long notices at a few jobs (I was leaving for school, so I knew well in advance). My bosses all really appreciated it! If you’re not sure, I understand that it’s not worth risking, but if there’s a way to find out, it might help relieve any stress you’re feeling.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      One of my very first office jobs, I gave about 3 months notice because I’d been accepted to college. I did that on a Monday or Tuesday. On the Friday, my boss called me into his office, handed me a check, and told me that it was my last day.

      Two outcomes: (1) I never after that trusted an employer to have my best interests at heart. That was a good thing to learn. (2) I got unemployment benefits because I was fired without cause. (They tried to claim prior warnings etc (untrue) but the EDD pointed out that they hadn’t actually documented anything.) That was good because I had some income during my first few months at school.

  36. münchner kindl*

    So I’m not sure if there’s a grandboss above boss, or if boss is grandboss, but still: any competent, reasonable manager who leaves for 4 weeks will not only make plans for common eventualities, but also appoint a deputy (or have a regular deputy for all cases of absence) who can make normal business decisions.

    And employees leaving, and doing a hand-over, is normal in non-toxic companies, so deputy should accept LW’s resignation for date X, start on transitioning/ documenting etc.

    Now, the decision to place an ad for new employee should be up to boss, in case they want to restructure, or there’s a hiring freeze or they want to promote an existing employee.

    But if there is no deputy, or the deputy has not enough power to make these normal business decisions, then boss is not a competent manager, to leave the company without adequadte leadership for such a long time; and the consequences fall on him.

    If people abdicate their responsibility (or are otherwise unreasonably emotional), then it’s not LWs fault if normal business things go wrong.

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