I'm leaving a company that I have worked in for over 4 years. I'm going to say that I'm leaving the company.

Is it impolite/rude to reject new tasks and just finish my ongoing tasks? How should I say I don't want to do new tasks as I'm leaving the company and of course working on new tasks take longer than normal moreover I don't want to burn a bridge?

  • 39
    As everyone has said below, this is a bit bizarre. "Work your ass off" until the last second of the last day.
    – Fattie
    Jan 2, 2019 at 11:58
  • 45
    As a default: Do what you're paid for, as long as you're paid for it.
    – phresnel
    Jan 2, 2019 at 13:30
  • 12
    Ok, that is very important details that you need to incorporate into your answer. You should also add your location, because there might be laws involved that makes everything else pointless to discuss.
    – pipe
    Jan 2, 2019 at 13:49
  • 15
    I think your intended question is different than your actual question. You want to get out of your notice period in a professional manner?
    – Summer
    Jan 2, 2019 at 14:48
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    @ALH "The problem happens when they say you have to stay for 2 months." No, it doesn't. If your contract says you have to stay for 2 months, then it has always said that. The problem happens when you say you want to leave earlier than you previously agreed. Work your contract or negotiate a change. Jan 3, 2019 at 11:22

9 Answers 9


Not only is it impolite, it might actually be cause for being fired on the spot. Even if you are leaving and on your notice period, you are still a contracted employee and you are still required to do the tasks asked of you.

Nothing changes in that regard until you actually leave. Whether or not you work on your existing tasks, handover, or new things assigned to you, is really up to the company. If they decide you need to do zero handover and instead start on a new project despite you not being able to finish it, that's... well, kinda dumb on their part, but it's not your problem.

You can advise them that you need time for handover, but they set your tasks while you work for them. Once your contract runs out, you just leave and the current state of their affairs is their problem to do deal with.

  • 107
    Is unprofessional too to accept tasks you know you won't finish but that a "hey manager, you realize I won't finish this before i leave?" makes that Not Your Problem.
    – Borgh
    Jan 2, 2019 at 10:57
  • 1
    Well, the OP might be able to complete a couple of relatively small tasks in the new project where they are experts, so they just want to exploit their expertise to the end and complete the part of the project requiring that specific skills...
    – Bakuriu
    Jan 2, 2019 at 12:48
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    @Borgh Once you've told your manager that, it's your manager's problem. You just do what your manager wants you to do from then on, and don't worry about what happens after you leave. Jan 2, 2019 at 15:58
  • I would argue it depends on any transition plan you've made with management (if you gave more than 2 weeks notice you DID work one of those out right?). I start a new position tomorrow in a different department, I've spent the last 2 months closing out all of my active projects and getting things to a maintainable point for the folks I will leave behind, since there isn't a lot of crossover skills and I've been The Guy for 20 years. Both my old boss and new boss would've killed me for taking on anything new while winding down unless one of them specifically told me to do so.
    – ivanivan
    Jan 2, 2019 at 19:54

Is it impolite/rude to reject new tasks and just finish my ongoing tasks?

It is unprofessional.

How should I say I don't want to do new tasks as I'm leaving the company and of course working on new tasks take longer than normal

You don't say that. That is for the company to decide. There are two things.

  • They assign a job to you. You need to calculate the estimated time and the percentage of work you can do till you are with the company; if there is any backlog from the previous project or knowledge transfer to be done, you need to consider time taken for that as well and give them a clear picture of how much % of work you'll be able to complete. When all the statistics are given, it is upto them to decide whether to assign you a new task or not. Mostly, they won't. Even if they do, take it up, but be upfront about how much you can complete it.

  • They don't assign you a job. Be a little proactive and tell them in advance the amount of time you have with you and ask them for a job that can be done during this time.

In both the cases, you are deferring the decision to them and you are only suggesting. This is important.

  • Is there really any such requirement for precise estimation on your part? Beause it sounds like that might not actually be the case. It sounds more like a requirement that should be put in place by the company and then fulfilled by the employee, rather than being a set in stone rule based on law. If the company does not require you to estimate the time you need to spend on your workload, then this is not something you have to do. Even more, it is something you do that nobody asked for. This is not to say that any such requirement is not sensible, since it clearly is. Jan 9, 2019 at 13:46

Erik and WonderWoman already answered clearly, but omitted one thing:

Yes, you are still under contract and all the obligations of your working contract are still in place, including that they give you tasks to do.

However, it is professional to consider the fact that you are leaving. If you estimate that a task will not be completed by the time you leave, or requires investments into you that the employer will not recover (e.g. learning a new skill), it would be right to point this out to them. Not as a reason to refuse, but as something to consider.

Another thing to consider is tasks that involve clients. If a task requires you to establish contact with a client who doesn't already know you, it can reflect poorly on the company if the next time someone else calls. It might be better for the company to have whoever will be doing the job after you contact them instead.

All of these things are theirs to decide, but some of them are easier to see for you, and thus you should point them out. The idea is to be cooperative and helpful and leave in a positive way. You never know when a positive recommendation from this company might help your career in the future.


You should agree on when you will stop working for them and when they will stop paying you. You should do whatever work is asked of you, within reason, until that time. For whatever time you have agreed, or do agree, to work, you should work as hard as you normally would. If you are asked to do things you won't be able to finish, you should inform your manager.

Things that are unprofessional for you:

  1. Not making every effort to agree on a reasonable end date.
  2. Agreeing to work until a certain date and not actually working until that date.
  3. Expecting to get paid for time you are not working unless agreed.
  4. Not letting your employer know what work they can reasonably expect from you given the amount of time you have left.

Things that are unprofessional for your employer:

  1. Not making every effort to agree with you on a reasonable end date.
  2. Expecting you to do more work than you would normally do.

How should I say I don't want to do new tasks as I'm leaving the company

You don't (directly) say that.

But it is the wrong question to ask - and you won't need to say it if you do this:

Leave in a "professional manner"

  1. Before you resign, prepare a list of things that you need to wrap up and estimate how long each of these tasks will take (in hours). Include a list of things you cannot complete.

  2. Provide this list to your manager (pad your estimates) when you resign. Your resignation should also be in writing and hand delivered in person if that is practical (won't work for long distance telecommuting).

  3. Ask your manager to re-prioritize it for you if s/he desires.

  4. As you work through your TODO list, make sure you have enough time to finish what is left on it. If you don't have enough time, immediately mention this to your manager and ask which items should be dropped (stop the current thing? Ignore the last three items on the list?).

Number 4 also works for items that your manager adds to your list.

Don't agree to any new work from anyone except your manager.
Sample response to someone who isn't your manager: "I can see how that would be useful. I will check with [manager name] to verify which items can be dropped from my current plan so I will have time to do that."

  1. Keep up with the number of hours you spend on each task on the list. Keep manager informed as often as needed (generally as you finish each task, but no more often than the end of each day).

  2. Finally, if your manager assigns you new things, as bad an idea as this is, you do it anyway because they are your manager.


While employed, it is of course at all times your job to do best you can by the company, but in situations like this, focusing on knowledge transfer, documentation, eradication of tech debt and smooth transition of responsibility for previous work may be doing just that.

Still, I'd just present this point of view to the company and let them decide how you should best use your remaining time.


Yes, it's impolite, and it's also career-limiting.

You want to be well-remembered upon leaving your company. You want the last impression that people have of you to be a positive one, because that will be the most lasting. If you start refusing work in your last days at your job, that's how you're going to be remembered.

You never know when your past employees might wind up being a reference for you, officially or otherwise. You don't want one of your co-workers to be asked about you and they reply "Oh, that guy? He was OK, but then he refused to do any work once he put in notice."


As others have already pointed out, it is rude and impolite.

Don't say things like "I don't like to do this since I'm leaving". You'll sound like you want to be elsewhere already and don't care about your duties anymore. And it'll probably be the thing everybody remembers about you afterwards.

You don't want to burn bridges, so be helpful. Do the things you're told to, but also communicate. You could let the others know for example:

  • "When I leave I probably will be to busy to help you. So make sure you have all the documentation on [my stuff] you need before I'm off."
  • "Okay I can do it. I'm also doing [this other thing] and there's a possibility I don't have time to finish both. Should I prioritize [this]?"
  • "I think we should start training others to do [my thing] since I'm leaving."
  • "I just found out that [my task] won't probably get done before I leave. Should we start transitioning it to someone else? I want this to go smoothly for you."

In all you want to give an impression that you take responsibility of what you do and want to make the transition go well for the company. That'll leave a good impression.


Good corporate behavior includes the grace with which one accepts and relinquishes responsibility. Accepting new tasks in the middle of an exit is part of relinquishing responsibility (for that company).

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