I have a job interview in about 3 hours from now. If all goes well I'm really hoping they make me an offer on the spot as it's another somewhat small company but at the very least the topic of availability and notice might come up.

I have very little ties to my current place of work and I have all of my vacation days for the year. Theoretically, I could give notice and then take all of my vacation days or tell them I will work the two weeks but want compensation for the vacation then. I'm fine giving them that choice.

The issue is that my boss is traveling around Europe for a few weeks and is my only real superior. The closest thing I have to an HR dept is a woman out of our parent company in another state whom I have never met. I've gotten no handbook and signed no policies or anything of that nature.

Is it acceptable to email my boss and cc the woman at our parent company something along the lines of this example?

I have accepted a position at another company and am giving my two weeks notice. I have placed a signed statement on your desk. I would like to know if you would like me to work during these two weeks and to compensate me for my unused vacation time or if I should use my vacation time and make tomorrow my final day.

Would that be acceptable or do I need to tell the company I'm applying to that I need to wait for my boss to return before I can even give notice?

  • 2
    FWIW, it's entirely within reason for the company to not compensate you for your vacation time. My handbook specifically says I lose it all when I leave and will not be compensated for it. In the absence of an official policy, you can certainly ask for it, but don't rely on it.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 20:43
  • 3
    Yes, check your contract, it might also disallow the taking of vacation time during a notice period.
    – robertc
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 12:30
  • What would happen if the office went up in flames? Would you all just look for new jobs?
    – emory
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 14:26
  • 5
    @Bobson, better would be to say that it's "legal" (but it depends on where you live) for the company not to compensate you for the vacation time. It's certainly not "within reason" unless you quit with no notice. I'm shocked that your company handbook says they steal it from you if you leave. Mind giving us the name of that company so we never make the mistake of working there?
    – user1602
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 3:51
  • @Kyralessa - I just went back and checked. The exact quote is "Employees will not be paid for any earned but unused PTO upon termination." In Pennsylvania, there's nothing requiring anything more than "follow your policy".
    – Bobson
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 14:04

6 Answers 6


That's a weird situation. Is there really no authority figure at your current job to whom you could physically give notice?

I'd say you can't let the fact that your boss is having fun in Europe prevent you from taking on a new job. Give your two weeks notice any way you can, but it's not reasonable to expect your new employer to wait around much longer than that.

I'd probably send him an email giving my 2 weeks notice, and in said email ask him what he needs you to do during those two weeks to help ease the transition. Such things might include coordinating with HR (or whoever) to get the process for hiring a replacement rolling, writing down procedures (creating a 'smartbook' for your replacement), and most likely some other things that ordinarily your boss would do if he were there (but he's not).

That's probably the best you can do.

  • 4
    The whole company is weird and he runs it like a dictatorship. I didn't even know he was leaving until the day he went on vacation. As he was walking out the door he said, "Have fun while I'm gone and don't jump on the furniture we're going to be moving and need it" which was the first time any of us knew we were moving offices. He didn't tell any of us when he's returning and we only figured that out via his out-of-office reply, assuming its accurate.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 13:08
  • 52
    I would say if your manager has the authority to take an arbitrary European vacation, he has the responsibility to leave someone informed and in charge in his absence. Seeing as he apparently didn't, then that's his problem. Just send your 2 week email notification and enjoy the move to a sane company.
    – huntmaster
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 14:17
  • 10
    I agree with this answer, and would just add that your boss wouldn't hesitate to fire you with an email from abroad if the business situation required a cutback. Send your email to the boss and this out of state person and get on with your life. Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 15:16
  • @huntmaster, maybe the problem is that the OP is the person in charge, and he'd be giving notice to himself, which makes no sense.
    – user1602
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 3:50
  • @Kyralessa - So, the only person above you in the company goes on a random holiday, leaving you in charge of EVERYTHING with no notice? That's madness, and no way to run a business.
    – huntmaster
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 15:46

An ounce of extra care now will pay pounds of dividends later if you ever want to be able to use references from this company (or have them respond favorably when future potential employers call them even if you don't list them).

Consider what you're proposing from your boss's point of view. There he is, lounging on the beach in Europe, and he checks email on his phone to find out if tonight's outing with friends is still on. Wait, Ryan is quitting?! Just like that? Kind of puts a damper on the day, don't you think?

If your boss isn't available, the logical next steps are your boss's boss (if there is one) or that HR person. Contact somebody in person or by phone so you can have a direct, synchronous conversation. This isn't to give your resignation; it's to ask how to give your resignation. Then, do whatever that person tells you to do. If that turns out to be "send email to your boss on vacation", well, at least you can say in that email that so-and-so in HR told you to do that, so you don't look callous yourself.

Even in quitting it's important to maintain good relations and a professional appearance. You may end up working with some of those people, or their friends and colleagues, again in the future. Don't be that guy that everybody thinks snuck out the door while the boss was away.


In your specific instance, if you get an offer from this other company, I do no believe you need to wait for your boss to return if he won't be back in that two weeks. This is a risk (for the boss) inherent in being gone for so long. As for the resignation process in such a case: I recommend telephoning the person at the parent company. Tell her you have accepted a new job and ask what else you need to do to notify people you are leaving. It's likely that emailing her and your boss will be sufficient documentation, but they should tell you that for certain.

In my experience, giving two weeks notice usually means that you work for those two weeks. This provides time for unfinished projects to either be finished or passed off to someone who will take over after you leave. While it's rare that your replacement would be hired in those two weeks, it is possible (especially if they are transferring from another position within your organization), and this two weeks would give a chance to provide some knowledge transfer and training to them. While it appears it may not to be a factor in your situation, it also provides a chance for saying good-bye to co-workers with whom you may have become friends; while you can try to stay in touch, it's usually the case that you won't stay as close in the future.

While it's not completely unheard of to give two weeks notice and then use vacation time to cover that two weeks, it is not done very often and at least some people consider it unprofessional. An exception to this might be if you already had a vacation planned and approved; however, in a case such as this, I recommend providing two weeks of actual work to help the organization you are leaving. As much as reasonably possible, it's best not to leave an employer angry with you, as you may want to use them as a reference in the future. If you feel you need a break between jobs, put off the start date at the new employer for an extra two weeks and use your accumulated vacation after you have left the current employer.

If you do take a vacation between jobs, you may want to ask about extending your official departure from you existing employer until after your vacation is over in order to continue health insurance, etc. If they won't cooperate with that and you're in the U.S., you should be able to utilize COBRA to extend your health insurance, but it will be entirely at your expense. Another possibility is to ask if the new employer would allow you to join their plan when you leave the old position, but this is highly unusual and I'd only recommend asking about it if the old employer won't extend you and COBRA is prohibitively expensive.

  • Matt, I appreciate this but seems you're more focused on my desire to use or be compensated for the vacation time then the question I have which is about whether or not to wait for my boss to return. As far as some of your issues, there are no people for me to train, I'm the only one that does my job. The best I can offer is to make detailed notes for him to use when and if he hires a replacement for me. I have no outstanding projects that need to be completed.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 12:52
  • @Ryan: Have you seen my edits? I tried to more directly address you concerns there.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 13:07
  • Yes the 'in your specific situation' paragraph is helpful. thank you.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 13:12
  • 5
    I have never worked for a company that would allow you to take vaction time during a notice period.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 14:59
  • @HLGEM: I did it once ... but I gave three weeks notice and my vacation was less than a week, so they actually got more than two weeks work ... and I think I had this "conversation" on another question, but don't remember who it was with.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 15:24

If the email is the form of communication that you(or any other employee that works there) have to use in order to keep your boss up to date with what's happening while he's gone, then I see no problem with sending your notice this way.

Unless the relationship with your boss is more than employer-employee, you shouldn't treat your notice differently than any other information that has to be passed on to him.

As a form of respect, you could apologize to your boss for not being able to do it in person and explain to him that this is a great professional opportunity for you and you could miss it if you're not prompt in your decision.

Telling the company you're applying to that you have to wait for your boss to return in order to give them an answer is not a good idea. It's unprofessional, in my opinion.


Assuming that you are not under contract, you don't need to wait for your boss to return. If you are employed at-will, you can choose to leave at any time. You are taking appropriate steps to remain professional and give your current company the option of how they want to handle the remaining decisions.

I would advise against notifying the company you are interviewing with. The only reason I would mention this is if you are determined to wait until your boss returns before you leave the company, and I don't see any reason for you to do that. Again, if you are employed at will, you can choose to leave any time (in fact, companies expect that workers will do this), and do not have any ethical obligation to stay at your old job until your boss returns. The company, not you, is responsible for dealing with any issues that might result from your departure.

I do agree that it's best to contact other parent company or management employees. That is doing the right thing for the company. Does your boss have a boss or a peer you could contact as well, even if this personal is not technically "HR"?

Finally, since you have not been provided with any HR policies, do be aware that the company could choose to terminate you immediately as soon as you communicate this to them. You did not post your location, but you may want to take this into account with your local labor laws as in some cases, the company might not approve your remaining vacation time.


Things must be different in the US, because personally I'm surprised at all the advice against mentioning your situation to the people making you the offer.

In my experience in Europe, if a potential employer believes you are the best candidate, then they will be more than happy to wait an extra two weeks to get you on board. Maybe it's because it's more common for people to be out of the office for a couple of weeks at a time here (when I read the title of the question, I thought by 'long vacation' it was going to be a month or more). But notwithstanding that, it still sounds crazy that a company would turn down a top candidate because they couldn't drop everything to join them immediately.

So personally, if they made me that offer (or directly asked me when I'd be able to start before they made any offer), I'd have no problem at all saying that although I could hand in my notice immediately, it would be a little easier for all concerned if it could wait until my boss returned in a couple of weeks. If an employer was so inflexible that this was unacceptable, I'd be dubious about joining them anyway.

  • You make some valid points, but in the OPs specific case "He didn't tell any of us when he's returning". So would you tell a potential employer "it would be a little easier for all concerned if I could wait until my boss returned ... and I have no idea when that will be."
    – emory
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 13:17
  • True, but as the OP commented, the boss did mention a return date in his out-of-office email and he currently has no reason to doubt it. If the prospective employer agreed to wait until that date and the boss didn't return after all, then I'd just inform the prospective employer immediately, and resign by email (or whatever the original plan was) instead if they didn't want to wait any longer. At that point I've been more than courteous to my current employer, and I've still handed in my notice on the day agreed with the prospective employer.
    – calum_b
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 11:30

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