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I am considering quitting my job tomorrow because my boss is once again asking me to travel for twelve days straight and it's simply turned into too much for me.

I'm set to fly out this coming Friday for a conference where I will be the company's representative. If I put in notice tomorrow (Tuesday), would it be unreasonable of me to refuse to go on the trip? Should I include in my letter of resignation that I will not be going on the trip?

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Normally, you'd continue to perform whatever tasks were assigned to you for the two week period. Is there some reason other than not liking this particular job duty that you don't want to go on the trip? Would that mean, for example, that you would be out of town on the day your notice finishes (and thus be unable to start a new job the next day)? –  Justin Cave Apr 28 at 22:50
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Have you considered talking to your boss about your objection to these trips (without the resignation)? Assuming you approach the subject carefully, and the company is flexible on this, you may be able to renegotiate it (assuming you don't have sufficient other reasons to want to leave). –  Dukeling Apr 29 at 10:00
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What region are we talking about here. The Rules on this are much different in the US than they are in Asia, and Europe. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Apr 29 at 15:57

6 Answers 6

During a 2-week notice you are expected to perform your job duties (though in an ever-diminishing role as you hand them off). If you resign and decline to perform your job duties as requested (in this case, travel for work), you are effectively quitting without notice.

I would instead offer resignation, citing the unexpected level of travel. At that point, your boss may offer you to not go on the trip, or it may be expected that you continue the trip as planned and upon return hand over your duties. Either way, let your boss decide. Just think of it as "one last trip" that you have to survive.

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@peteris what gives the idea that employees who travel have a right to be home on weekends? Some employers choose to bring people home on weekends, others do not. I was expected to be away from home for 6-8 weeks at a time when I worked for the federal government with no return ever for weekends. Then home for two weeks and out again for years on end. –  HLGEM Apr 29 at 13:35
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@HLGEM In most parts of the world, this right is given to you by labor rights. This might not be the case in the US, but it would certainly forbidden in Germany to be expected to be on duty for 6 straight weeks without a break. –  dirkk Apr 29 at 13:51
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I never said we didn't have weekend soff, just that there is no legal obligation to bring people back for weekends. –  HLGEM Apr 29 at 14:22
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@HLGEM - employers don't have to bring people back on weekends, but people should have the right to be back on weekends (and every single workday evening) if they so choose. At least in my country you can't send office workers far away if they don't agree. Most people do agree, but refusing travel for family issues or because there is excessive travel (as for the original post), then they can simply refuse. It's a basic labor right for any job where travel isn't a core part - you can't simply send a local delivery driver on a trip 2000 miles away; it'd be a different job with different pay. –  Peteris Apr 29 at 15:39

I would say it has a lot to do with the expectation that was originally expressed about the role. It sounds like there's been a problem for some time on the expectations of travel and what you vs. the company consider to be reasonable.

Cases where I would recommend going are where the trip is within the reasonable expectations of the job. For example:

  • If the job describes that you will be asked to travel on very short notice for up to 2 weeks, then this is well within the parameters you agreed to.
  • If you agreed to this particular trip 3 weeks ago when the plane travel was cheap, and the trip was easily booked
  • The trip involves work which is absolutely key to your position and the success of the company (for example, closing a sales deal)

Cases where I would expect that you can reasonably say "no", and/or the company may voluntarily tell you not to go:

  • This is the beginning of a commitment to a long term relationship (you are the associate that will work with a partnership for a long time) - if no one else can be found you may have to go, but it would be in the company's best interest to make the transition now.

  • You have been asked yesterday and short notice travel was NOT part of your job description, or a reasonable expectation for the position

  • Training

  • Virtually all types of training are not useful money to spend on an outgoing employee

If at any point you agreed to go, then the polite thing to do is to offer to go, but to be ready to be replaced. Most functioning companies don't want to pay for the travel of an outgoing employee, it's just not that useful for most business trips. But they may have to send you for a variety of logistical reasons, particularly if your ticket was already purchased.

As mentioned, the expectation is that an outgoing employee giving 2 weeks notice will perform job duties as assigned. The polite thing to do is to put some effort (even if not assigned) into making the transition easy - handing over keys, files, information, making introductions, helping onboard new people to do your job, etc. If you are forced to travel, then you certainly don't have to go above and beyond to make the handoff easy, but it's fair that if you've already committed to it, they may expect you to go.

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I think the key is when the trip was assigned and booked. If you were told of this months ago and the tickets are bought, go. If you've just been told to book the tickets and you'd rather quit, then do that. How important can attendance be if it was decided on such short notice? –  Kate Gregory Apr 29 at 15:59
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I don't agree that notice and importance are correlated 1 to 1 in all cases. A person responsible for fixing very important things when they break will not get long advanced notice - but the travel will be very important for the company fullfilling it's support contract. If this is part of the job expectation, it's basically saying "I don't plan to do my job". –  bethlakshmi Apr 29 at 17:30

So by resigning now, your last day falls within the trip. I think it makes some difference when you were told about the trip.

If it's been in your diary for ages then it's fairly unprofessional to resign now because of the trip, in a way that puts your last day in the middle of the trip. You should have resigned earlier.

If you were told yesterday that you need to go, and your manager knows that these long trips are a problem for you, then responding promptly by resigning today seems pretty reasonable to me.

Either way, probably the technical situation is that you can't refuse to go since it's part of your job duties (and if it's not part of your job duties then you could just refuse to go without resigning!) They might decide not to send you, though, depending whether they'd prefer you to spend your notice period handing over your existing projects/duties to others. Your notice period means: that's how long you can be called on to continue to perform your duties.

However, if the trip is only just announced and they send you despite your resignation, I think you can reasonably expect to be returned home on your final day of notice, not a few days later as the trip is currently planned. Of course there's an opportunity for your employer to mess you about in that respect, if they're feeling angry.

Ultimately they will argue that the company is relying on you to go, and you will argue that if they needed more than two weeks notice of your departure (because they're sending you on two week trips) then they should have contracted you to longer than two weeks notice. If they really want you on the trip, and you really want not to go, then you will not reach a compromise that both of you feel is reasonable and will have to fall back to legal obligations as a measure of "reasonable".

If you can stomach it, though, then to me the obvious thing to do is to resign but offer to work the additional couple of days to the end of the trip if they want you to. If they decline that offer then you've done the noble thing but not had to pay for it. If they accept that offer then think of it as life's punishment to you for not resigning earlier, or not finding a way to establish after the last trip that you will not go on another. Either way you have a better chance of your employer thinking of you as reasonable and professional. This might never matter, but might some day matter quite a lot for some reason.

If you think it's more-or-less certain that they'll send you despite you resigning, then in some sense there's no point resigning immediately. Find your next job first. Then when you do resign you can explain why or not, as you please.

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Given that the trip is an event that isn't going to change its dates, there is the possibility of your boss wanting to lengthen the notice period so that you attend the entire event for one option. The other option is early termination for insubordination since you are refusing to do what your boss is asking that is a reasonable request. In general, I'd think the point is that while you don't want to go on the trip, how are you presenting this to your boss. If you are antagonistic about it, "Oh heck no, I won't go!" then you may receive some hostility back. On the other hand, there may be negotiating room here.

I'd advocate having a conversation with the boss about your resignation and the trip as something to discuss rather than state a unilateral position that may be seen as insubordination in some circles.

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@user3229383 - I edited that information into your question. I think it really is an important piece of information. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Apr 29 at 17:18

As others have said, you are generally expected to perform your job duties as assigned during you notice period. That said depending on the type of work you do the company may not want you travelling on their behalf during your notice period. This is especially true if you are in a position where you will be dealing directly with clients and customers. Your resigning may be enough to trigger a cancellation of the trip.

In the US and most of the free world you can not be forced to perform a duty against your will. If after you tender your notice the company still expects you to go on the trip, you could choose to let them know that due to your needs at home you will not be available for overnight or extended travel during your notice period. Let them know you are willing to help with the transition and process and perform duties from the office during this period. If you are willing to do some light travel, like for a day or two instead of the extended 12 day trip, you might want to communicate that as a potential compromise.

In most places they will not be able to terminate you for cause before your notice period expires. There is a process involved in that. They could choose to terminate your relationship immediately. This may be with or with out pay depending on contracts, legal requirements, and company policies. So you should be prepared for that.

The biggest risk here is that you are not likely to get a good reference either way if you let them know you are quitting because of the trip. But refusing to go on the trip is more likely to sour them. If you simply state that you are leaving to pursue other opportunities and offer to go on the trip, they are more likely to give you a decent reference.

Personally before quitting a job that I otherwise enjoyed, I would talk to my supervisor about the need for extended travel and getting me moved to a position where the need is reduced to a level that I felt comfortable with. But I would guess you have already tried that and you have reached this point despite assurances that things would change. It is sadly, not an uncommon situation.

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If you are resigning, as others have mentioned, you'll generally be expected to perform your normal duties and, in addition, the hand over of any unfinished work to colleagues.

Some managers will be amenable to letting you off performing tasks you feel particularly onerous - the travel in this instance - and some will not. But there's certainly no harm in asking.

You could have gleaned all this from previous answers. What I wanted to highlight in particular are the consequences others have mentioned if the boss expects you to travel and you refuse outright.

I've been in a vaguely similar situation twice before, and on both occasions I was told that if I didn't do what was expected, I couldn't expect a satisfactory reference. This can have a very severe impact on your search for future work: most employers will ask for several references, and if even one is negative they may well reject your application, even if you've otherwise done well at interview. Neutral or noncommittal references are very common, but negative ones are very rare.

You have my sympathies, but if you're told you need to travel it's probably best to take the short-term pain in favour of the longer view.

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