I applied for an annual leave at work, but I am thinking about not returning or basically quitting my job after.

What will be the consequence of not returning or ghosting my employers while on leave?

Edit: annual leave means just the granted lay leaves available in my contract. Additionally in my contract it says I have to give them 6 month notice before I change employers.

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    Not having a reference? – Ed Heal Oct 8 '19 at 10:01
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    Depending on location. In some such action is treated as serious breach of basic employee obligations – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 8 '19 at 10:36
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    When you say 'annual leave', do you mean a leave of absence of one year? Or do you mean a couple weeks of normal vacation that you take every year? "Annual" means "every year". If it a year of absence, what type of absence is it? Unpaid? Maternity or Paternity leave? Something else? In many jurisdictions, for example, if it is a year of maternity leave and your employer is paying you through that duration it is often stipulated that you must return to work afterwards or you forfeit the wages and/or health benefit premiums (FMLA) taken over that period. – J... Oct 8 '19 at 18:35
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    You have to give 6 months notice. It’s in your contract. – Daisuke Aramaki Oct 8 '19 at 23:59
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    you need to add location. 6 month notice period is illigal where I am ... – rkeet Oct 9 '19 at 8:15

What will be the consequence of not returning or ghosting my employers while on leave?

There's burning bridges and then there's napalming them to a crisp.

The exact consequences are going to depend quite a lot on your location and perhaps most importantly what your contract says about things like giving notice. If you happen to be in a situation where you're entitled to quit without notice it's not much more than a rude way of quitting, but then of course that would raise the question as to why you wouldn't just come back off leave and say "I quit" and call it a day.

If you do have a specified notice period then unless your role is a very high turnover job where this sort of thing happens more frequently I'd say just not coming back and "ghosting" them is probably not going to go down well. In some jurisdictions doing this is pretty much tantamount to waving a big flashing neon sign inviting them to sue you for breach of contract. At the very least you are kissing goodbye to any chance of getting a good reference from these people in the future - which may or may not bother you and may or may not be a problem. I mean it's still a hugely unprofessional move but it might not be one that particularly comes back to bite you substantially although you never know when something like this might crop up in a background check in the future and make you look like an unprofessional flake.

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    It also makes a difference if you owe have some of their stuff. They will want the laptop, phone, credit card... – mhoran_psprep Oct 8 '19 at 10:18
  • And it can also 1) go to permanent record depending on the location 2) again depending on the location, for cause terminations are publicly recorded with the unions or labor regulatory authorities – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 9 '19 at 8:36
  • @J... I explicitly mentioned potentially being sued for breach of contract – motosubatsu Oct 9 '19 at 9:10

What will be the consequence of not returning or ghosting my employers while on leave?

Your reputation will be shot, and a bad reputation will follow you for years

Most industries are very tight knit, and people tend to transfer between companies within the same industries, plus there are trade shows where people talk, et cetera. That is enough of an unprofessional move for it to become gossip.

"we had this one employee named Aurora who ghosted us! Can you believe that? Didn't say a word, just one day went off on vacation and never came back!"

"Aurora? Well, that's odd, we have a new hire by that name...."

This happens more often than you may think. I have bumped into people in different companies for years who I have known from elsewhere.

Your most valuable asset in business is your reputation, treat it with care

When I am hiring, every last person scheduled for the interview can do the job, so my job as an interviewer is to pick the best fit personality wise. If you have any sort of character mark on your reputation, I'm not even going to consider you, even if you are the most skilled candidate. How do I know you're not going to ghost on me as well? Sorry, I'll pass you by for that B- student with mediocre skills and a great work ethic with a personality that lights up the room over you any day....

This is why you don't ghost anyone.

You always act professional regardless of how you are treated because you want your hands clean. The whisper network is a very real thing, and your reputation will precede you, for good or for ill. Make sure it's for good

  • IDK how many industries are really tight knit, but you can definitely run into the same manager(s) again later when looking for a job and miss the opportunity when they remember you. – computercarguy Oct 8 '19 at 19:42
  • @computercarguy I've seen some amazing things to that end. Ended up working with a guy I hadn't seen in decades once. The financial companies, everyone makes the rounds. Same in the Shipping industry and retail. – Old_Lamplighter Oct 8 '19 at 19:51
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    Same in videogames. At least around here, EVERYONE knows everybody, and a move like this would change your chances from we will hire you even when we are not looking for candidates to your curriculum to the shredder. – Oxy Oct 9 '19 at 10:08

This is a horrible plan.

If you want to leave, provide the proper notice, then leave. Do not just quit without providing any notice. It even looks worse if you take PTO and then not show up to work after.

It is considered really bad form, unprofessional, and you can kiss any positive references from them goodbye as well.

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    The only time taking PTO before a quit is OK is if it's mutually agreed on as acceptable. I've seen it done, so I know it works, but the general rule is that it's not good form. It's even marginal if there's extenuating circumstances causing a need to quit while on vacation. I've heard of an extended family member dying during vacation, the employee calls in for an extended leave, and then eventually quits. It's almost always a strain on the business when someone quits, and adding vacation time doesn't help. – computercarguy Oct 8 '19 at 19:47

My question is, why would you ghost your employer while on leave and just not come back? Why not just return from leave, and on your first day just go to HR and be like "hey, I decided this job isn't for me, see ya later"? That would work way better and be way less unethical. It's a job, you can quit whenever you want (modulo e.g. 2 weeks notice and so on), that's how jobs work.

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    This is a question, not an answer. – J... Oct 8 '19 at 18:40
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    @J... It's a rhetorical question, which, as much as I hate to say it, is a valid answer. – Mad Physicist Oct 8 '19 at 19:04
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    This is a great answer. There is no benefit to ghosting the employer and several dis-benefits. – P. Hopkinson Oct 8 '19 at 19:44
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    @MadPhysicist It would be a rhetorical question, but obviously OP has some (to us) unknown reasons for not considering this option... so that makes it less of a rhetorical question and more of a question that (for myself) I'd actually want to hear OP's answer to. That makes this a comment which should be under the question. In fact, OP's latest edit indicates that they have a contract with a six month notice period - something that hints pretty strongly at why they haven't just given their two weeks and said they're on their way. – J... Oct 8 '19 at 19:49
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    Not all people live in a "right to work" state/country. And some people have a legit contract that requires some time for notice. I know people who have had 1-2 months required notice periods. I think I gave 1 month notice to the last job I left, because I didn't want to hurt their extended hiring practices. The OP doesn't state where they are, so this Answer might not apply to their situation. – computercarguy Oct 8 '19 at 19:52

To answer the question:

Potential Consequences of ghosting or quitting immediately

  • Sued for breach of contract (you mentioned a required 6 month notice)
  • Not qualifying for unemployment benefits
  • Loss of severance package
  • Destruction of your professional reputation <-- Almost guaranteed, not just potential
  • No chance at a good future reference, and some future companies may contact your current employer (which will not be good)

Differences if you at least say something before quitting:

  • Possibly protect your reputation
  • Could possibly work out a release from your contract

If I'm missing anything feel free to comment and I'll add it in


The implications have been covered extensively in other answers. I just want to add that ghosting the employer may not work completely. In most jurisdictions the employer has a duty of care toward their employees. If an employee simply doesn't show up for work when expected, the employer will do everything they can to get in touch with the employee.

As a manger I had to deal with this once. A junior employee (reporting to me) did not show up for work in the morning. I sent a text message and gave an extra half hour to account for unexpected traffic/public transport issues. After that I started calling their mobile number and their home phone and leaving messages. I notified the department director and after two more hours of unsuccessful attempts, I got in touch with HR, who attempted to get in touch with the nominated emergency contact (their mother in this case). After several unsuccessful attempts, we ended up calling the police and reporting a "concern for safety". The police visited the employee's home address and, after being let in by a relative, found the employee sound asleep. Apparently, he turned off his phone (and home phone) to get a better sleep - and overslept after a night out. And the mother was out of the country so wasn't reachable.

The outcomes may vary by jurisdiction (my experience was in the UK). The moral of this story is that if you keep ghosting the employer, then you may well receive a visit from police asking if you're ok.

If you're dead set on not returning from the leave, at least send an email to them confirming that you're safe and well. You can say that due to circumstances beyond your control you're unable to return to work - and just leave it at that. The rest of the implications have been discussed already.

  • What a crazy story! I'd be so mortified! – guenthmonstr Oct 9 '19 at 12:07

Obviously, you are in breach of your contract. What that means for your specific contract is up to you to figure out. It will definitely burn any bridge there, you will not get a good reference from that company.

Depending on country and employer, you should not be surprised when the police comes knocking on your door, peeking through your windows, talking to your neighbors or even knock your door down in extreme cases.

Not because quitting your job is illegal or because your employer could do anything about it legally, but because if you have a normal relationship to your employer in general and you go missing without any feedback and the means to reach you fail, they should initiate a welfare check with the local police. You could be lying in your apartment bleeding and helpless for all they know.

The police will find you, ask if you are okay and then tell the employer "Thank you for your consideration, the person in question was not in need of assistance. Don't hesitate to contact us again in similar cases though, you are doing the right thing".

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    you are not in breach of contract in the US, as a rule, unless you actually have a contract that states as such, which is fairly rare here. – Old_Lamplighter Oct 8 '19 at 18:21
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    @RichardU In all of the job's I've had in the US, I've never had one that didn't have a notice clause. "Fairly rare" could use some backing up! – Mars Oct 9 '19 at 1:35
  • @Mars, I've never seen a job in the US that did have a notice clause, and I have also always heard that it is rare. Obviously our experiences are very different! – prl Oct 9 '19 at 2:28
  • @prl I'd suggest that the fact that "your 2 week notice" is a phrase that most people will understand suggests that it isn't "rare", but certainly, this is likely a state-by-state situation! – Mars Oct 9 '19 at 2:30
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    @Mars Never, in the five decades I have been in the workforce, in numerous states in the USA, and in several industries, including shipping, the financial, IT, the public sector, and ONLY ONCE did I have a contract requiring notice, and that was through a consulting agenency – Old_Lamplighter Oct 9 '19 at 2:59

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