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While at my current company (Old Company) I accepted a job offer as I was leaving on a three-week holiday. I told the new company (New Company) I would resign the day I returned to work, and complete three-weeks of notice period. (I considered resigning just before or during vacation to be unprofessional as my notice period would not be effective to my employer.)

Because of my five years at Old Company, I knew the standard notice period is 6 weeks (national labor law) with the option to complete less of the notice period by paying half a days wage for each unfulfilled day. My intention was to complete what I saw as a reasonable three weeks (given my current commitments), and pay the rest.

Now I have handed in my resignation and my manager wishes that I complete the full six-weeks in order to finish a project (of roughly 10 months duration) that is somewhat near completion*. My current role is that of a project leader for a ~10 person team.

From New Company's perspective, they are giving me the standard six-weeks (3 weeks vacation + 3 weeks notice) for notice period at Old Company.

From Old Company's perspective, I'm only completing half of their normal notice period (due to the holiday).

To try to remedy the situation I have talked to New Company, politely requesting whether they can wait three more weeks for me, as I have an important project to finish. Their answer was that they really wish me to start on the agreed date because they have a client waiting, etc.


My thoughts are that either a) my proffered three-weeks notice to Old Company is sufficient and I'm compensating for the unfulfilled days, b) I screwed up by offering to start at New Company, completing only half on the standard notice period.

The trouble with possibility (a) is that as my current manager will know Old Company's commitments better than I, only his opinion on how much notice is sufficient counts. The consequence of not completing full notice is a hurt relationship with my manager going forward (and harder to get a referral in the future from him). I have tried other ways to improve the situation, like offering to help my manager after starting at the new company, after work hours or on weekends.

Possibility b) seems more likely because I wasn't in a strong position to make the assumption that anything less than the standard notice period suffices. Remedying this would involve the difficult question of asking New Company for more time to complete the full notice period prior to joining their company. This would allow Old Company a better chance of finishing the project on-time and would also allow me to maintain the excellent relationship I have with my manager. The danger here is that they rescind their offer due to their client needing me to start on the given date, or else need to find alternatives.

I have also read here about how a serious company should do all it can to allow their future employees to transition from their old company.

Is my reading of the situation correct and is the best way forward renegotiating my notice period with my future employer? What alternatives come to mind?


*: Deadlines have slipped multiple times on this project - currently my manager thinks the project will be finished by the time I complete a six-week notice, but I think that is an optimistic view and that the project will need at least 2 or 3 months to complete.

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    I don't understand your rationale for not giving your 6 weeks notice on time, the fact you would be on vacation for half of that is immaterial. – Alan Dev Jan 17 at 8:47
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    Please add a country tag. In some countries labour law the vacation days are counted as working days so you can in fact count them in you notice period. In some they allow company to not grant you vacation days but require for them to pay you extra for them (and have a high possibility of penalty for not allowing employees to use vacation time) – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 17 at 9:13
  • "my manager wishes that ...:" Who cares what he wishes? I wish you would give me $500. Can I send you a paypal address? – Fattie Jan 17 at 12:18
  • It seems the huge mistake you made was not to give notice before going on vacation. This would have saved this whole problem. – Vality Jan 17 at 17:24
  • I mean I guess you could just not quit, and stop showing up for work. Eventually they'll fire you and your new employer will never know. I've never heard of a law that forces an employee to give notice. That seems very one sided. – Trevor D Jan 17 at 18:26
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Some facts: 1. What your old manager wishes is completely irrelevant, what you have to do by law is what counts. 2. Your new company can wait, because if they retract your offer, they won’t have anyone starting within six weeks anyway.

I’d get advice what notice is required from an expert. You might ask HR at the new company, because it’s in their best interest to help you get out if your old contract quickly. Otherwise, get an employment lawyer.

As a bit of advice to your old manager: His plan won’t work. You won’t finish that project, and when an inevitable phase of bug fixing starts, you won’t be there. Much better to get a replacement ASAP and have you train them.

As a bit of advice to you: don’t plan your holiday to be part of the notice period. In the USA, your holiday can be cancelled without pay. In other countries, it may not count as part of the notice period. In all countries, significant amounts of holidays in the notice period is unprofessional and won’t make you friends.

  • @ the last sentence. In some countries the company can be given a cash penalty for allowing employees accumulate significant amount of holidays – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 17 at 9:19
  • yes, holiday as part of notice is a bad look – Kilisi Jan 17 at 9:24
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    "In all countries, significant amounts of holidays in the notice period is unprofessional" - This is completely untrue for at least several European countries, where you're absolutely expected to use the remainder of your vacation days during the notice period. – Peter Jan 17 at 9:31
  • @Peter and in several Asian countries, you are bound by the employment contract that you cannot avail general (paid) leaves during the notice period. It depends. – Sourav Ghosh Jan 17 at 11:22
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    "In all countries, significant amounts of holidays in the notice period is unprofessional and won’t make you friends." that seems totally incorrect, gnash old boy – Fattie Jan 17 at 12:24
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To try to remedy the situation I have talked to New Company, politely requesting whether they can wait three more weeks for me

That was a mind-bogglingly bad idea.

When you make huge mistakes in life: the only thing you can do is learn from them.

Never, ever do that.

If you have a written, fixed job offer, do EVERYTHING to secure your actual day one of work.

Be the world's biggest enthusiastic goody-two-shoes until you actually get in the door.

(Regarding the rest of the question, simply utterly ignore the blah-blah coming from your current manager. Give your written absolutely minimum notice and get out of there.) (Never, ever, let "I might need a reference" affect your actions.)

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Notice periods are regulated in the contract and the law.

Usually the law takes precedence.

The biggest obstacle to quit is the ongoing project that you're potentially vital to.

Depending on your country, the employer might be within their rights to demand you remain until it is finished or they found suitable replacement.

Try to find a replacement you could recommend.

You might be out of luck on this but it can't hurt to ask a lawyer about your options.

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