After messing up at work by calling in sick way beyond the assigned time (my day starts at 9, and I called in at 11) I got a stern talk with my boss and senior programmer. My boss was ready to fire me and had the paper ready and on the table but the senior convinced him not to.

As I was at the end of my contract my boss offered me a new contract but wanted to have ability to fire me directly if he deemed necessary, so he asked me to sign a resignation letter without a date on it. I have not done this yet. Is this a normal practice and should I even sign something like that as it seems very dangerous in my view

I work at a small IT company of 5 people in Europe so we don't have HR or really any dedicated people for this kind of thing.

This is my first job and I have worked here for 7 months and for about 4 months internship before that.


I have not received the contract/ resignation letter yet, I expect to get those either today or tomorrow. I will not sign the resignation letter even though I don't know if I'll still be working there after that.

After taking a critical look at the company I work for and considering that my contract ends in about a month, I have decided to start looking for other opportunities regardless of the outcome of this ordeal.

Also, I live/work in the Netherlands for those wondering.

I will update again after receiving the contract and knowing the aftermath of declining it.

second update:

Just had a talk with my boss, and he decided that he would not renew my contract. I'm kinda glad about this, because else I would have to go through the confrontation of declining the resignation letter, and I really wanted to leave on kinda good terms. My last day is the end of March and I'll be looking for a new job from now on.

Thanks everyone for the help. I really did not know what to do when I got an offer like that after six months into my first job, and you were a great help.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 3:01
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    If this is in Germany, I am quite sure this would be "Urkundenfälschung" (= illegal)
    – Fildor
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 5:59
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    You were so ill you called in sick late. Your bosses response was to dress you down rather than act concerned?
    – Aron
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 5:32
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    @Fildor And of course if a date is put in by the pass that is not a date when the employee resigned (that's the "document forgery") and that forged document is used to cheat the employee out of his rights or out of money, then it is also fraud.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 23:10

21 Answers 21


Don't sign that paper!

I don't know the rules of your specific country but resigning would be treated very differently to being made redundant/sacked in a lot of places when it comes to claiming any benefits.

You said that this was in Europe, if it's within in the EU you might just be giving them an easy pass to get rid of you anyway while avoiding normal employment rules. No responsible company would expect this of you. If I was in your shoes I would be polishing up my CV and looking to get out of there as fast as possible.

  • 251
    +1. DO NOT SIGN. At some point they will want to terminate you and leave a paper trail showing that you initiated it. For me, this is a red flag and I probably wouldn't renew the contract, unless I was not confident of finding more work quickly. Also, if you don't sign the letter, make sure you read the new contract very carefully.
    – Justin
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 9:27
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    To add, in many (maybe all) EU countries asking for such paper is illegal, using it is illegal, and country labor inspection and / or labor court may be very, very interested...
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 9:45
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    So much true, never sight that, In Spain for example you don't have right to collect your unemployement subsidy. So they can just fire you and you wouldn't be getting any compensation menwhile you find another job. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 12:02
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    I even want to add that if you do sign such a document, it gives your employer a free opportunity to cheat you out of your next paycheck. It's very cruel, but they can have you work a full month or longer, but put the resignation date on that paper for the beginning of the month, and they simply will never pay you for your work. Your resignation paper is enough evidence to use in any court against you if you claim benefits.
    – darksky
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 13:04
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    @alephzero We don't know if the OP is on a fixed term contract or a 'Contractor'. I am currently working on a fixed term but I am still a full time employee of my company and entitled to all the benefits that comes with this. However if this was a question of his company putting potentially sketchy terms into his new contract the advise would be to to consult a lawyer/union/citizens advice. However what is being discussed is if he should sign an undated letter that his company could use at any point to dismiss him DURING his next contract period.
    – Dustybin80
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 15:02

Giving a full answer. Calling in sick 2 hours after you are supposed to start working day is nothing to fire anyone. You could be at a doctors office for that time. Had emergency procedure or something.
Pairing this empty "resignation" paper and the your boss wanting to fire you they would like to have leverage to fire you while omitting some labour laws. For example back dating your "resignation" so it would look like you had required time to use your holidays/overtime or time to look for new job.

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    Agreed - when I was sick in November (a rather aggressive bout of food poisoning), I spent 6 hours throwing up with breaks of about 30-40 seconds between each retch, all while severely delirious and sleep-deprived. I was neither physically nor mentally capable of phoning in sick - but, fortunately it was not a day I was due to work anyway. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 11:51
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    This answer has a very important point! They could backdate further in the past than your notice period, making it look like they over paid you and try and get you to pay them back.
    – Notts90
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 12:43
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    The asker could have been at the doctor's or in the ER and, if that was the case, the manager could have reacted differently. We don't know. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 12:17
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    @DavidRicherby The OP didn't showed at work. The reason is "sickness". That is all what work should have know. The "behind the scene" is not important. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 12:29
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    @rumtscho, labour laws in Europe differ a lot but are seldom that lax. It would be interesting to know which country you are referring to. If I'd have to guess I'd wager it is a non-EU country.
    – Zano
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 23:30

Hahaha that's an excellently badass, reprehensible move of that boss.


If signed, it's a get out of jail card for the company to circumvent ANY legal roadblocks to unilaterally end employment contracts on a whim, without notice...

It also has impact on workers compensation, severance packages and potential lawsuits against termination reasons.

It might not even be legal.

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    The moment you sign a document it becomed the 'final' version and can only be ammendend with more signatures from both parties. So adding a date is essentially forging a signature, aka fraud. But now on how to prove that...
    – Borgh
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 9:11
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    @FooBar all they need to do is add the date of <today - notice period> and thus you have a resignation with no notice. (Also "it might not even be legal" no, it's not)
    – UKMonkey
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 11:04
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    @jpmc26 oh it's badass in the brazen way the boss showed steel balls by even suggesting such a thing. Who in their right mind signs something with blank spaces to be filled out at the discretion of the other party after the fact ?! It takes a special kind of person to even attempt this. And yes jackass indeed fits nicely,just like many other,more NSFW terms... Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 13:54
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    @DigitalBlade969 "Bada**" still has a set of positive connotations that make it not fit here, though. "B*llsy" would work very well, as it doesn't carry those kinds of connotations.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 13:56
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    "might be not even be legal"? It would be pointless to have any sort of protections against being fired, if this sort of thing were not illegal. Otherwise, a company could just say "okay, one of the conditions of employment is that you sign this". Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 16:06

Resignation is not firing

As you state, "the boss wanted to have ability to fire me directly if he seemed necessary". That's something they can do anyway, according to the contract and applicable laws, which is the key part - firing you means that you get certain advantages that you lose if you "resign" in this manner. Even disregarding the "blank date" nonsense that's probably illegal; if you had come to an understanding that they want to get rid you right here and right now and asked you to submit a resignation letter, you should refuse to do that and have them fire you "properly".

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    Right. The whole idea of "you must resign" is nutty.
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 12:11
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    Resignation can for example lose unemployment benefits for a time period. However, if he could prove that he was coerced to write this letter, he would get a few months pay as damages. Join the union anyways. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 16:15
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    @Lassi I doubt there is a union in such a small company. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 1:19
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    @John - there's general unions (e.g. Unite in the UK). You can join one of those without there needing to be anything in place at the company. I've been a solo union member at smaller workplaces. It's significantly better than nothing at all ... Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 14:55
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    In fact, in such small companies, there will be no experience dealing with unions. That makes it a whole lot better than nothing. Your union can just point out to your employer that they have a dozen lawyers on staff, and plenty of experience with lawsuits. A big company would have its own experienced lawyers, so for them that's just normal business. But to a small company? They would have to pay for their own lawyer.
    – MSalters
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 16:01

my boss offered me a new contract but wanted to have ability to fire me directly if he deemed necessary

This person wants to offer you a job, and as usual, there are conditions to it:

  • You will earn XXX per year → written in the contract
  • You will work XXX hours per week → written in the contract
  • The workplace is in ABC → written in the contract
  • The working relationship can be terminated by you, at your sole discretion, giving a notice period of X months → written in the contract
  • The working relationship can be terminated immediately at the sole discretion of the employer → separate piece of paper. What?

Stating the terms you will be working under is exactly what contracts are for. He should include that in the contract, as simple as that. If the local law does not allow such a contract, it's your boss's problem.

In any case, start looking for a better place to work.

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    Whether "the working relationship can be terminated immediately at the sole discretion of the employer" is highly dependent on the country, the state/province, and collective bargaining agreements. This is called "at will employment". You can't assume that such a right can, or is legal, to be written into the contract.
    – user71659
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 18:29
  • Right, for a work contract the options are limited. However parties could agree on a evaluation period or even have a freelancer contract which often is much less legally regulated. (However that also means giving up the protection and benefits so it should pay off to agree to that)
    – eckes
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 23:04
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    @user71659 The point is that, if it's legal, then it should be in the contract; if it's not legal, it's not legal. Neither case requires the pre-signed, undated resignation letter. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 12:29
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    @user71659 I'm not assuming such thing. As stated in my answer, I'm aware that at will employment is not legal everywhere, in particular not in many places of Europe, where the OP is working. That doesn't change the fact that all conditions must be in the contract. The dialog goes " - Sure I'm ok with those conditions, please state them in the contract - But you see, I cannot put them in the contract, that's not legal - Oh, I understand. Then I'm afraid we cannot reach an agreement, thanks for your time"
    – abl
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 19:20
  • had should add it into the contract, because it's fundamental part of the verbally offered deal; and since this is with high probability not legal, it would render the whole contract questionable, unless there is an explicit severability clause.
    – user1026
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 17:31

In general, you should never sign a "fill-the-gaps-esque" document unless such gaps have been filled by yourself (before the signature!) or with yourself present at the time of their filling (again, before the signature!).

If I were you, I would proceed in one of two ways:

  1. There is no need to not follow the rules, so if he eventually wants to fire you, he can have you noticed with the corresponding period.

Hey boss. I understand that my behavior was not appropriate and that I violated some policies, so I understand that I may be on a thin line here, but I don't see why this is necessary. In the event of a dismissal, I think we are fine with the usual, legally stipulated, procedure.

They cannot object to that*, although of course you risk getting the two-week period notification right at the very same moment.

I mean, if you are to be fired, a two-week difference is irrelevant. Or, should I say, should be irrelevant. To me, this sounds like perhaps the senior convinced the boss not to let you go now because there may be some processes that you know of and that need to be documented/back-upped before you leave, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility that they intend to have you do the documentation/back-up/whatever and once they feel it's done, come to you with the paper with a date that is two weeks in the past but with your signature already on it. Nasty!

  1. Look for another job, of course! Okay, you broke some rule; you acknowledged that and come to some kind of terms with your superiors. It should end here, but then they come up with sketchy documents and procedures. Red flag. You probably don't want to work there anymore. In my opinion, at this point trust is broken in both directions.

*A very workplace-knowledgeable person I know has a golden rule that I feel it's worth citing here:

When in a negotiation/argument with a representative of a company, try to always state things that are irrefutable.

Note that irrefutable does not necessarily mean "True". It just means that there is no reasonable way your statement could be proven false and hence invalidated. Things like "I don't feel this is necessary" are irrefutable (because nobody can refute you saying you have a certain feel). Things like "I don't want to do that" are also irrefutable, but perhaps a bit more harsh.

  • I like most of this answer, but strongly object to the starred side note - that's the passive-aggressive way to get no engagement on your goals. You should make a habit of eliciting "no" in ways that benefit you and intentionally mislabeling things when you need someone to clarify their thought processes. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, but emotional honesty in that moment could have gone much better. Just say, "So, you don't want me here anymore?" It plays on the same instinct to refute your negotiation partner's points, but in this case, you get him to limit and clarify his own goals.
    – Alex H.
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 21:52
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    "the two-week period notification" is a US thing, the company is located in Europe. That likely means the appropriate answer is "if you think this is a reason for dismissal, present your case to the relevant authority. I will wait for their response".
    – MSalters
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 16:05
  • @MSalters. Actually, in Spain (where I live), it's a two-week period by default unless the contract states otherwise. It's not the same law for all EU countries, let alone Europe as a whole.
    – busman
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 21:46
  • @busman: True, the EU has not established a single standard, but there are some minimal requirements. And as far as I can see, that minimum bans US-style at-will employment. If the company may fire you, I certainly can see it happening in two weeks.
    – MSalters
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 8:19

Aside from the obvious, don't sign it, that has been stated in all the other answers, this entire situation is a huge red flag on multiple levels. Here's why:

You called in sick too late, that can happen and is no reason to talk about firing. At most you would be told to do it earlier next time, unless this is a repeat offense the talk you had was very aggressive. This type of aggression is to make you think you depend on them, that they are doing you a favour by employing you, it shifts the professional relationship from trading your time and skills for their money to trading their money for your obedience. It's manipulative and you don't want to work for someone who would do this.
The senior in there with you creates a 'good cop bad cop' scenario, no doubt on purpose. They knew they were not gonna fire you or they would've done so, these things are not decided while telling the employee they're fired, that's already past the point of no return. Telling you you're fired, but having someone 'convince' the boss not to at the last moment enforces the same shift in your relationship as described above.
Signing a letter of resignation is what you do when you want to resign, not when your boss wants to fire you. If your boss wants to fire you he can do just that, without making you resign. He doesn't want that, because it's easier and cheaper if you resign. This wouldn't be a problem if resigning vs being fired had no effect on you, but it does, you have significant less rights when you resign. You are being told to sign this document to create more power over you. Again, this shifts your relationship, and on top of that is in most countries very illegal.

You are being set up to be a slave. Your boss wants you to know he pays you to execute his every command with no questions asked, and that he can take away your livelihood any time he feels like it. He won't, because you are an obedient and productive worker, but he wants you to think he will. This entire situation is exactly what happens with abusive relationships, this is manipulation 101. Do not sign this document, update your resume and immediately start looking for a new job, don't tell anyone at your company, just get out of there asap.

  • Others have said much the same, but this is very much more direct and clear than most, on the subtext
    – Stilez
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 18:31
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    I usually balk at overreactive answers on this particular site, answers that accuse the boss and his colleagues of all sorts of manipulative, malicious actions that we can not corroborate from afar. But in this particular case, this answer is spot on. Good job ^_^ Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 18:12

As everyone already pointed out: DON'T SIGN IT

A workplace that comes up with this kind of ideas is not a place to grow in. I would strongly advise to seek out another workplace. All of Europe is screaming for developers - so you will most likely find another place to work.

If you stay on for another year I can promise you more strange behaviour from that manager and you won't leave with a nice experience or a written record of your efforts.

  • Given the way Europe is currently making itself actively hostile to software development, particularly of the web variety, this might not be the best possible piece of advice... Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 21:07
  • In Sweden, Germany and Estonia (where I work on a regular basis) there is a record of open positions (feb 2019) ... so I shouldn't generalize, but from my standpoint he should look for other work than get stuck with a high-risk manager
    – Magnus
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 7:54

To repeat what's been said already: DO NOT SIGN THE LETTER.

It sounds like the contract you've been offered doesn't give the company a way to terminate it early without your cooperation (i.e,. resignation). This is to your advantage because you're being given the stability of having work (or at least being paid) until it expires, which is worth something. Your boss is trying to take that away without giving you any additional compensation in return, which effectively reduces the value of the compensation you get for holding up your end of the bargain.

If the terms are acceptable to you and you want to continue working there*, sign the contract and return it to the company. Once it has been signed by both parties, the only ways to end your employment are what's set out in the contract and you will be under no obligation to supply them with a pre-signed resignation letter.

Your boss may be doing this without the company's knowledge. It could be in violation of their policies or, worse, could put the company at legal risk depending on local laws. Filling in the date on a pre-signed resignation letter may be treated as forgery if it was not your intent to resign on that date. Depending on how the letter is used (e.g., as a way to deny you unemployment benefits), your participation in this scheme may be fall under legal scrutiny as well.

*Give careful consideration to whether or not you want to continue being associated with a company that hires people willing to engage in this sort of thing. Reputation is everything.


Asking someone to sign a contract (that is, any agreement) exerting a wilful pressure on the signer to sign it (e.g. getting laid off on the spot) might (*) make the contract invalid by default, in some jurisdictions at least.

The bottom line of this thinking is that anyone convinced to be able to extort a legally valid piece of paper from a signer suffers from delusions, for society blames this kind of behaviour at a more fundamental level (i.e. before he/she thinks it's a good idea). The difficulty is that the occurrence of this case has to be demonstrated before a court, once a conflict on the validity of that signed paper arises. Which requires mental stamina, expert advice and financial back-up.

This reinforces the advice given elsewhere not to sign that piece of paper and to profile yourself as the ever more conscientious worker you want to be. Even an odd lapse does not justify a disproportionate reaction.

Pedantic addition. There are also contracts that are void by law even if you agree to them. Beside extreme cases, like you contracting out your own murder, you may not trade rights that may not be waived. Closer to workplace issues, in labour laws where a worker's leave is an inalienable right, one may not trade one's own holiday allowance for money. This is done for protecting power imbalances. In that framework anything you sign is just wasted ink, you must take your own holiday. This notion has been thought to systematically protect the weaker side in case of uneven contractual power, such as employer-employee, and preempt 'consensual manipulations'.

Disclaimer. All of this is just lay knowledge, of second-even-third-hand kind. No expert advice.

(*) please consider @dbkk's comment below

  • 7
    There is no "might" -- modifying the contract after it has been signed (for instance by adding the date) is forgery and possibly fraud. I can't imagine that is legal anywhere, although proving what happened is another matter.
    – dbkk
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 17:25

Folk have made good points here, but I should emphasise that you should get legal advice for your next steps. In matters like this, your precise actions can mean the difference between having a good outcome and an undesirable one. What looks like a good idea at the time, or natural justice can end up ruining a good case against your employer, who seems flat out to be breaking the law.


You haven't signed it yet? Don't.

You have? Seek new work ASAP, to start ASAP. The moment you have a start date, call your boss and say "You know that letter? Write in this date."

You may get some static like "You're leaving me in the lurch!" And you say, "No, I'm not. I gave you my resignation some time ago."

And if he wants to bring litigation on that due to a contract, he's in a rather bad position. He is making "holding onto your resignation letter" a condition of employment so he can fire you at any time for no reason, and the contract doesn't say he can fire you at any time for no reason. So he has effectively voided the part of your contract that requires he give you notice. He doesn't realize he has also poisoned the part that requires you give him notice: He can't enforce that, because he has "unclean hands".



Now find out what are the rules in your country, state, company,...

In my country, if a person has official sick leave from a doctor, they can report it the latest the next day. But they have to say exactly when they will be back.

Even if they don't have official sick leave we have a very limited number of days of (I think 2), which can be requested that day until end of work time.

So find out the rules.

That said, Your employer has to organize work in the company so it gets done. They need to know such issues. You have signed a contract, that stipulates the hours, where You agree to hours at work. People will expect You in those hours. Especially in small teams, where every member is so called "irreplaceable".

In the morning when I feel sick, I'll usually send a short text message that I'm feeling sick and plan to go to the doctor. As soon as I have more info I'll send details about my absence.

The employer has gone overboard on this issue.

But You also have responsibilities.

  • @Abigail exactly like that. In Poland we have an official doctors document "L4" (a sick leave note) which stipulates date from and date to of sick leave. So You know exactly when You will be back at work. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 11:09

I would say simply "If I want to resign at any time, I'll write a resignation letter at that time, not in advance."

Alternatively, "An undated letter would be me saying something that's not true, because it's not my intention to resign, so I can't. Sorry."

  • I would say, steely eyed, "No need. You can get a resignation letter from me anytime you ask." Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 16:10

To avoid similar situations, in Italy a resignation letter is not valid unless you confirm it a trade union office. I suggest you not to sign and find another job somewhere else: to my mind your boss and your senior developer may be playing a part and pretending to be a sort of "good cop/bad cop". The sad truth is that they want a chance to get rid of you without any problem and this is the easiest way.


Let me give a point of view as someone who recruited developers for big corps I agree with the other posts , what your boss is doing is unethical and most likely an attempt to circumvent labor laws in the event they wish to dismiss you with immediate effect.

I believe the blank date can be challenged as most resignation letters have the date specified in the body of the letter indicating both the date of resignation at the top and the last day of work and you can only have a signed-on date next to the signature (this of course depending on the labor laws in your country and how well they get enforced).

I also don’t think that calling in sick 2 hours late is really cause for a severe reprimand, except in cases where coming to work late has become the norm or calling in late for sick days has happened multiple times, or in the case where you were supposed to present a product to a client and your employer had to face embarrassment by not knowing where you are.

In cases like this, where you already signed both your new contract and resignation, I say ride it out but have a plan for the future. I am not sure where you are but where I come from finding work as a junior is an uphill battle and gaining at least 12 – 18 months of working experience as well as at least 1-2 projects on your port folio is vital to get employment(this might differ on your side) and sometimes an employee without any experience looks better than an employee with only 4 months on their CV as this could indicate a problem employee, leaving your company in good standing also goes a long way as you will gain references.

But in the case where you have options to make a move to another company instead of signing the letter I would recommend that, but try and stay with them for longer to indicate a reliable working relationship with future employers.

Good luck out there

  • 2
    I will challenge this. While I understand that short employment periods are considered red flags, OP is in the company for 11 months already (4 as an intern and 7 as an employee). Extending such an abusive situation with total lack of stability (due to the resignation letter in manager's possession) can be devastating OP's state. I know most advice against blaming previous employers about anything, but I believe this kind of misbehaviour should be exposed. Let me just add I was in situation where I had to choose between working in abusive environment and not working at all and I left ASAP.
    – Ister
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 18:39

Word to the wise. If your boss is the type of person that wants to coerce you into signing a blank resignation letter with possibly false promises --- he may also be shady enough to make you sign other forged documents.

Avoid signing any "new" documents with "news" rules in the nearest weeks, and be wary if any documents to sign are strangely neatly arranged and fixed on notepads...there maybe a document with the signature field underneath the one you are signing.

Also be aware of "urgent" documents "strategically" given when you have short time, immediately before a meeting or before your exit hours. Refuse if you must, and read everything very carefully.


Is this a normal practice and should I even sign something like that as it seems very dangerous in my view?

Unfortunately, while blatantly illegal, it is not uncommon. Unfortunately, a sadly large number of employers adopt this practice to bypass labour laws. As a case study, this is particularly true in Italy, where the phoenomenon is known as dimissioni in bianco (as a source, consider the Italian Wikipedia has a paragraph dedicated to it). And unfortunately, also according to source 1, this is often used against women or other classes of weaker employees..

As an example, blank-date resignation letters can be used once a woman gets pregnant to get rid of her, assuming her priorities will change. In such countries, work regulations prohibit firing a contract employee without a valid reason, evidence, litigation, bureaucracy. Every employee is free to leave the company once he/she wants to.

This act is completely illegal. I can say this because I am educated and read the news about this phenomena, not because I know the laws. As you may rightfully understand, resignation is the choice of the employee to terminate the contract. If employer chooses to terminate a contract and wants the official papers to say the opposite, it is named fraud or attempt to circumvent labor laws, when they provide extra protection the fired employee. I am not a lawyer in this matter.

Blank-date resignation letters are normally done under threat, the threat that you will not be hired if you do not sign that document even before our contract. That letter empowers your boss to date it two weeks before he/she decides to terminate you.

One more thing: time has not stopped. You were asked, somehow in the past (hours ago? yesterday?) to sign such letter. Normally, employees are not given large decision time windows.

Let me show you what options you could consider.

  • Disclaimer later: Assuming you are still waiting for your next meeting with boss, you could try to secretely eavesdrop the conversation with your phone, taking evidence that the boss is having you sign this blank-date resignation letter. That can be used in court, but disclaimer later
  • Refuse to sign the letter, but that means you will be jobless
  • Could be a a good time to speak with a worker union. I doubt you have joined any, small companies do not have representatives of unions in their workforce, IT sector is not very tied to unions (in my experience)
  • Sign the letter for the moment but already consider yourself jobless. With this option, you will just get paid for the remaining time you stay with the company. You must seek another job as fastest as you can, interviewing every day in afterhours, and once you afford to pick another opportunity you can forget about the mess your old employer did. You will love to sign your real autograph resignation letter. Put a note "with love from Workplace SE community". Kidding...

Disclaimer: IANL I Am No Lawyer and I do not know if under your regulation it is legal or not to obtain criminal-relevant evidence by secretly recording audio under your own initiative. Under your rules, the worst that can happen is that you must allow only the police to conduct investigations, but you have a narrow time window to act. Be informed, be prepared.

One final note: be careful seeking for witnessing. Your coworkers might be under the same threat.

  • 1
    You may want to site the laws you are referring to, since you are not a lawyer. Also, in the beginning of your post, you frequently state that this is blatantly illegal, and then under your disclaimer, say that you are not. You should consider editing this for clarity Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 18:38
  • 'Not uncommon': please provide evidence for your claim. I have never encountered this in 54 years in the workforce.
    – user207421
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 19:51
  • Using your phone to "secretely eavesdrop the conversation with your phone" might be illegal itself in your country.
    – Make42
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 14:52
  • @Make42 might be. You are correct: it might be. But when it comes to criminal evidence, it might be not. I am no lawer, I don't know if you are, but it is better to consider such poossibility Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 8:49
  • 1
    @Make42 it's not illegal, but is has zero validity in a court trial, unless explicitly noticing them... another option (not suggested so far) might be, to openly ask all coworkers, if they have signed their resignation letters yet. this "might" create team dynamics ...in case they all have signed it.
    – user1026
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 18:05

This question was asked a year ago and it has a lot of answers already. However, I have an answer that is different from what the rest of the people are saying here, so I'm going to answer nonetheless. Besides, my answer is actually based on the right jurisdiction (which was added after most other answer had been posted).

There's one very simple thing I would do that no other answer has mentioned yet: Consult a lawyer.

Let me repeat that: consult a lawyer.

You can probably get a free consultation. Just look up a lawyer specializing in labor laws near you and see if they do such a thing.

I suspect the lawyer will see: just sign, there's no way that holds any legal grounds. Just do , and to document this situation already, so we'll have a stronger case should he use it. And when he does, we'll both stand to make some money. But don't do that because it's what I think a lawyer will say, do what the lawyer says!

Even if the lawyer says that, I'd probably start looking for something new. For both you and the lawyer it's possibly better financially if he does end up using this letter, but for stress and emotional well-being it's probably worse, so that's why I would also be looking for a new job.

But first and foremost: consult a lawyer.


Firstly, it doesn't seem you've really messed up. Being sick can mean you contact later than before your regular working time starts. So nothing wrong here, really. Even though of course it's a good approach to inform your boss as soon as possible.

Secondly, your manager is trying to workaround the existing law. In most European countries, especially within EU, you cannot simply fire an employee on the spot. You either need a reason (position redundancy or employees severe misbehaviour) or the contract has to end. Even without that, there are rules about notice period. Finally as already mentioned in other answers, there is a difference between being fired and resigning voluntarily. In the latter case you may not be eligible to number of options (including unemployment support or leave remuneration).

And no, this is totally non-standard, illegal practice, however come employers try things like that anyway (or do other unlawful things).

Anyway I'll go a bit against majority.

You should not sign the paper. However, there is one but in your specific situation.

You said your contract is about to expire or has already expired and your boss gave you a sort of an ultimatum. If he denies signing the next contract (and hasn't signed it yet) you need to weigh your options:

  • your contract expires and you're without employment once it happens
  • you sign the paper and have the contract, however you're sitting on a burning seat

If you are going to be without employment anyway, signing might be a better option to buy some time. In this specific case only and still you need to consider it well. Remember, you may find out being "resigned" next day after you sign the contract.

If you already have your contract signed without signing the in-blanco resignation upfront, don't sign that resignation. Your manager has no power to force you now.

Note, that whether you sign the paper or not, the boss will most likely fire you/use the "resignation" on the first possible occasion. Regardless of the situation (you already have a contract or not), your next step (and to be done really fast) is to polish your CV and hit the job market. With 1+ developer's experience you'll get a new job quickly, quite likely with better terms. Then go to your boss, and ask something along these lines:

Hey boss, you remember that resignation letter you requested me to sign? Can I have a look at it for a moment?

When he gives it to you, fill in the date, take out your copy with the date already filled in and add:

Would you like confirming the reception date on my copy? Thank you.

Of course have a spare copy in case he refuses to give you the original one.

One last warning. This kind of employee treatment is an extremely strong red flag. You should always do your best to move forward. If you ever encounter something similar in the future, your next step should be updating a CV and changing your LinkedIn status to "I'm actively looking for a new position".


I would have no trouble signing the letter.

I would of course also be looking for other work, as someone deluded enough to come up with that scheme is capable of much much more and likely thrives on creating misery.

No jurisdiction in the civilized world would deem such a letter to be anything other than fraudulent misrepresentation were he to produce it later during a dispute, either with the real story or an invented one, with or without a date fraudulently appended and unacknowledged by the signatory.

So sign it. It is of no use to him. If anything it might be useful to you as proof of his bad faith, coercion and possibly fraud, all of which you would gently remind his lawyer just before the latter offers you a generous settlement not to take your story to the police, the newspapers, his boss, his shareholders, his coworkers, the industry or professional regulating body or bodies for his industry, his customers, Twitter, his family, and ushers his angry client out of the room.

Sign it. And ask for a copy.

  • 11
    "Sign it. And ask for a copy." yeah, I'm sure they'll send you one, months later, after it's been backdated and you've already resigned 2 weeks ago
    – Xen2050
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 3:18
  • 10
    You haven't really understood the issue: yes, it is fraud, but the OP would never be able to prove it, because the employer will either deny the existence of this paper or show it only after it's been filled in, making it look like it was perfectly legal. And "ask for a copy", seriously? Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 9:14
  • @Smitty It would be considered a good thing to comment specifically on how each answer you downvoted could be improved. If my answer was among them, I'd suggest re-reading it, because it doesn't recommend signing the letter, and the question isn't about the contract.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 11:55
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby Thanks for jumping in. You got it right.. this particular answer made a few arguments and I disagreed with all of them (pretty strongly actually).. I tend to get a little verbose in my writing and hit the character limit which makes me go back and edit out some clarity...sometimes it doesnt work out so well... Blrfl's answer didnt even exist when I wrote my comment and the OP question was about a "new contract"...
    – Smitty
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 15:53
  • 1
    can only tell for Germany, which might have a similar legal system alike the Netherlands... here it would be deemed "sittenwidrig"; in Dutch that's "in strijd met de goede zeden" ~ "contrary to good morals". which would permit the signature, even if that document is nevertheless void, because a) it circumvents the law and b) coercion had been used to obtain the signature. one just has to proof the coercion somehow; and by the way, this is a criminal offence.
    – user1026
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 18:29

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