I am fed up with my current employer, and I am planning on quitting very soon. The only issue being that I am receiving a bonus in about a week. I am worried that once I receive my bonus and leave this company that the company will demand the bonus back. I have attached the verbiage that is found in my bonus contract.

I can not make heads or tails of the last line regarding the 90 days (emphasis mine):

In order to qualify for this incentive, a participant must have been an employee throughout the entire period under consideration, be an employee on the date the total incentive amount is declared by the Company, and be an employee on the date the incentive is actually paid by the Company in the ordinary course of business, which shall in any event be within ninety (90) days from the end of the period under consideration.

  • Pretty sure you need to talk to a lawyer about that.
    – AndreiROM
    Apr 12 '18 at 15:13
  • i would consult law.stackexchange.com my friend, i'd wait until you're paid that bonus before leaving but that isnt really a solution if you plan on leaving very soon
    – John
    Apr 12 '18 at 15:16
  • 9
    what? why? it just says that he has to be an employee when he gets paid the bonus, and that he gets paid it within 90 days after the bonus period.
    – bharal
    Apr 12 '18 at 15:16
  • You'd have to read the exact terms in your contract. Your work contract might say for example "any bonus must be repaid if the employee gives notice within 14 days of receiving the bonus".
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12 '18 at 15:37
  • 8
    In your case, if a bonus was paid for April-March, you would have to be an employee from April to March, on the day the company declares the bonus amount (say May 15th) and on the day when the company pays the bonus (say May 21st). You might give notice earlier because you would still be employed, but that is risky because the company could fire you or delay the bonus payment. I would NOT mention that I want to quit, just to be safe.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12 '18 at 15:40

That period is the financial period for which you're being awarded the bonus.

It's the bonus that is paid within 90 days of the end of that financial period. So if you've already been paid the bonus, you're safe to terminate your employment.

That's the way I read it.

You may wish to consult with a professional regarding this to ensure that you're covered fully.


Sounds like:

  1. You need to have worked the period the bonus is "for"
  2. You need to be employed when they decide your bonus amount.
  3. You need to be employed when the bonus is paid.

(and the point you were concerned about)

  1. The bonus payment cannot be paid more than 90 days from the period it was "for"

This means that you need to still be employed by them during the period the bonus is awarded for as well as and until the day that bonus goes into your bank account. If you are not then they are entitled to withhold the bonus from you.

Stay until it it paid to you in your bank account then you can leave safely.


If it was me, I wouldn't quit till the money was in my bank, no matter what the official verbiage reads. You can be sure they won't want to pay you if you depart like this, and unless you have this language in a signed contract they can (and likely will) find any reason not to pay you. Even with a signed contract, they may be completely happy letting you have your day in court, so to avoid all this mess, just hold off.

  • If it's a sufficiently large bonus: Wait until the money is in your bank account, and then take it out and close the account. Otherwise they might try to reverse the charge, claiming a "clerical error". It has been known to happen...
    – Floris
    Apr 13 '18 at 2:29

By the rules you should be entitled to the Bonus. However businesses sometimes skirt the rules by doing things that may seem devious. One of those that seems obvious is stopping a bonus check before it can be cashed.

I suggest you deposit the check and let it clear their bank for turning in your notice or letting your intentions be known. Once the check clears their bank it is really hard for them to pull the money back.

  • 2
    absolutely. Cheques are close to extinct in much of the western world outside the US. Personally, I havn't seen one in 20 years.
    – Leliel
    Apr 12 '18 at 23:58
  • @Leliel Even an electronic deposit is soft until the books close.
    – paparazzo
    Apr 13 '18 at 1:19
  • @scaaahu the point stands, there are plenty of places where cheques are nearly extinct, so an explanation has value precisely because SE is global.
    – Leliel
    Apr 13 '18 at 4:07
  • @scaaahu As far as I am aware, banks in New Zealand do not hold direct deposits at all. They're instant and final. However, you're also moving the goal posts, since a direct deposit is not a cheque.
    – Leliel
    Apr 13 '18 at 4:19
  • 1
    @scaaahu the distinction is actually important, because in quite a few locales, what you say is simply wrong. Once the direct deposit payment is visible in my account, ie, depositied, it's not possible for the employer to just reverse it.
    – Leliel
    Apr 13 '18 at 4:25

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