I'm currently working as a software developer for a small company (9 persons) in France. For different reasons, mostly because I feel at a dead end in this job and I don't see any ways how this could change, I have decided to resign. I will give my resignation in the following days and I have a 3 months notice.

In June, there is an exhibition where all the major players of the industry present their new stuff. My company has planned to present the version 2 (v2) of the product I'm working on (I'm the only developer working on it). The v2 is still in development.

If I resign now, I'll stop working in mid May because of my 3 months notice - one month before the v2 needs to be presented in the exhibition. Even if the company manages to hire a new developer to replace me before the exhibition, it is highly unlikely that the v2 will be ready in June. This will put the company in a bad position for the exhibition.

So my question is : can my resignation be considered as abusive?

I'm getting along well with everyone, have nothing against my colleagues, and I just want to leave because the job has lost interest. I have no intent to burn bridges or harm my employer.

In France "démission abusive" exists ("abusive resignation", or "unfair resignation", I'm not sure. I'm not even sure it exists outside of France). It can happen when an employee resigns with the intent to harm its employer (such as an accountant resigning the day of the accounting balance sheet). I have never seen it used anywhere, but I'd like to make sure I can't be accused of that. The law in question is article L1237-2 of Code du travail ("work law"), which however does not define what exactly is considered "abusive" resignation.

Update : All the answers and comments agree that it's not abusive resignation, so I'll keep my plans to find better opportunities and resign. I probably was overthinking. Thanks for the help!

  • 94
    What the h is an abusive resignation? In the free world (France qualifies) anyone is free to quit any job at any time, slavery times are over.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 12:35
  • 16
    @TymoteuszPaul It's in the law.
    – R0m1
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 12:36
  • 56
    you have 3 months notice, exactly for that purpose
    – njzk2
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 21:00
  • 8
    Apart from all the correct answers, it begs the question: Why is a critical asset of the company (that's being presented at a major conference to boot!) being worked on by a lone developer?
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 21:31
  • 5
    @Kevin because either the asset is not as critical as portrayed here (extremely common, when you create the product it's easy to get attached and biased to the baby) or the company is ridiculously mismanaged (a lot less common, but not impossible). Either way, not OPs problem to solve.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 21:35

10 Answers 10


So my question is : can my resignation be considered as abusive?


Slavery time is over, and if a company does not want to lose you, they are free to rectify whatever bothers you to convince you to stay. But you certainly are free to resign from a job whenever you please, and given the 3 months notice period, there is no way for it to constitute an "abusive resignation".

As per https://prudhommes.ooreka.fr/astuce/voir/184034/salarie-attention-aux-risques-de-la-demission-abusive which I will use as the sole source for this answer, someone with a better one feel free to provide a correction, and I will replace it.

According to case law, a resignation is considered abusive when the employee takes this decision for the sole purpose of harming his employer and thus causes harm to his business.

Although the employee is free to resign, certain limits strictly regulate this right. This is the case, for example, when:

  • the employee leaves his job overnight, causing serious consequences for the smooth running of the business
  • the employee does not comply with one or more clauses included in the contract
  • the employee resigns and brings with him other employees
  • the employee resigns when his presence is essential for an important activity: for example an accountant who resigns on the day of the balance sheet

An abusive resignation therefore results from a malicious intention or from blameworthy carelessness of the resigning employee.

Given your 3 months notice period, in no way does this meet such circumstances. They have more than enough time to work around the fact that you will be gone and make necessary adjustments.

Of course, if they come back to you with a massive bag of money and other benefits to keep you for a few months more, that's their right, and you can consider whether it's worth it. But you certainly have the right to quit, and you will not be in violation of any law I can find, or that I can imagine making sense and being compatible with EU law.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 19:40

So my question is : can my resignation be considered as abusive?

For your resignation to qualify being abusive your employer must prove harmful intent. In theory quitting in the middle of a key project for the company could qualify (source here) but only if they can prove it was your intent that they present an unfinished project.

A 3 months notice is however more than enough for an employer to recruit and train a competent replacement. I'm sure that, not only it would be very low reward for them to go legal about it, they would almost certainly lose in absence of material proof (e.g. email) that you threatened the company.

If you want to avoid burning bridges, as you resign, express regret, warn your employer about potential pitfall of your resignation and volunteer to train a new hire. Keeping a good relationship with your previous employer would not only avoid any risk of them making a legal move, it would also make it more likely for them to recommend you to future employers.

  • "To qualify for abusive resignation your employer must prove harmful intent." Dangling modifier Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 2:57
  • 1
    @Acccumulation If you find a better way to put it submit an edit. I'm not native speaker so I can make all kind of gramatical mistakes.
    – Diane M
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 6:28
  • 4
    "A 3 months notice is however more than enough for an employer to recruit" - not necessarily; if other employees have 3 month notice periods, as well, new employees may take 3 months to start after signing the contract, unless they are fresh out of school/university or were unemployed before. Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 8:16
  • 8
    @O.R.Mapper: True, but the employer can reasonably hire a contractor instead of an employee. There's a clear task (finish v2) and clear deadline. Pricier, but that is just a business risk.
    – MSalters
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 10:22

The other answers raise good points, many of which I agree with, but I'll offer a counter-position which I think is worth considering

I have no intents to burn bridges or harm my employer.

Frankly, there's a high risk you'll do both here. Not just that, but if you quit now, you won't have delivered this important project.

Yes, you're being paid day to day to do work. It's a contract, not a favour. You're not morally obliged to stay (I won't attempt any judgement on the legal aspect, I have no idea).

But think longer term. Think about your resume, and your reputation. A record of committing to and delivering important projects that moved your company forwards is a really great thing for both. At the end of the day, it's one of the the most important pieces of evidence future employers will look for when judging if you'll be a good hire - and they look back years.

It won't be the end of the world if you leave, it won't destroy your reputation. But it seems like the risk/reward is stacked towards staying being the likely better option for your reputation, overall. And it's only 1-2 more months. Think about that tradeoff - it really might be worth just sticking around and delivering this.

  • If the project was that important, the company should have saw that the bus factor was 1 and correct that. Would it have burnt bridges if he broke a leg or (as the bus factor definition) was hit by a bus ? Resignation is the same. What OP should do however, is make sure to leave as much documentation as possible, and assist fully anyone that take over the project (as long as the resignation didn't take effect).
    – DrakaSAN
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 9:47
  • 8
    It's a 9 person company - by necessity, you're going to have lots of things only one person can do. Don't get me wrong, in general I agree with you, but in this specific case, it's different - OP leaving is reasonably likely to result in this deadline not being hit and hurt the company. They are where they are.
    – davnicwil
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 10:08
  • 10
    If you are being hit by a bus tomorrow, you will not need good references anymore. If you leave, you may need good references in the future. However, from my experience, in a small business, there is seldomly a really good time to leave. New projects are always scheduled before you finish the old one. Code you write today has to be maintained and expanded tomorrow. Think of yourself, resign when you have a new job lined up.
    – Alexander
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 11:55
  • 4
    This. I don't understands OP's wish to leave so close to the finish. Why not finish the job, put it on your resume as a finished project and then move on? It's not even 2 months if understand correctly, that's not much on the span of a career.
    – Douwe
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 16:30
  • 1
    @R0m1 Oh, absolutely. This was more presenting the upside for you, though, staying a couple more months at what doesn't sound like that bad a job for the better track record and (probably) references. For sure though, if you get an excellent 'now or never' opportunity, timing is less important, just take it. If you're just generally thinking about leaving, and don't have anything particularly lined up yet, sticking around to deliver this might be the smarter decision.
    – davnicwil
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 11:01

First of all, you didn't resign with the intent of hurting either your company or your boss. Obviously no one can hold you responsible for this.

I don't think leaving just before a deadline is a case of abusive resignation, your boss should be the one to always be ready for someone leaving, even in a small company.

If you don't have interest anymore, you should probably find something new, and France holds plenty of opportunities, you should be able to find whatever you need !

  • 1
    I'm not worrying one second about finding something else :). Thanks for the answer!
    – R0m1
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 12:52
  • 1
    If you suggest in advance that you spend the three months bringing someone else up to speed, that ought to be a good defense against any accusation of “intent to harm.” If you combine that with the offer to leave after the event, even more so.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Feb 15, 2020 at 17:15

Even if the company manages to hire a new developer to replace me before the exhibition, it is highly unlikely that the v2 will be ready in June.

This is sometimes called having a "bus number" of one. This refers to the rather macabre calculation of the smallest number of employees who would seriously threaten the project or even the company if they were hit by a bus.

If your company is running with a bus number of one, that's their problem, not yours. It's a problem they'd need to address even if you weren't leaving. What if you were actually hit by a bus?

  • 1
    small companies often don't have the luxury of having multiple people working on the same thing... They know it's a risk and a potential problem, but there's little they can do about it because hiring more people would be too expensive...
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 5:18
  • 2
    Usually, in small company, everyone is multi tasking, so that anyone can be kinda replace someone else. Ex. one coder is assigned to the project, but one of the manager also have experience with code and can at least maintain the project of the dev was to get hit by a bus.
    – DrakaSAN
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 9:50
  • @DrakaSAN That's never been my experience. More germanely, it's not what the OP described. Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 16:28
  • 1
    @jwenting Regardless of whether it was a reasonable chance to take, it is the OP's employer who has gambled and lost. Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 19:02

It is not your problem, it is theirs

There is nothing special about your resignation.

A company always has the risk that one or more employees become unavailable, for whatever reason, temporarily or not. There is something special about what the company did. They choose to accept this risk, instead of preventing the problem.

It is not part of your job to solve this problem. You can not even solve it, because you can not prevent that you become unavailable yourself.

The underlying issue is that it is quite expensive to prevent the situation. In this case, they would need to have two or more employees who are always able to continue the project. By sharing the work, or by often informing the additional person about the state.

They knowingly decided not to spend the money to prevent the situation, and this is pretty common, simply because it is so much effort.


As already discussed by most answers: this is very unlikely to be taken as (better yet proven) to be harmful intent. You're almost certainly safe from a legal standpoint.

You have no obligation to stay but I ask that you keep this in mind. It's very likely that you will burn bridges by this action, and it may have consequences on references and your CV.

It seems that you are not in any rush to resign immediately, I ask, why not just work for 1 more month before your 3-month notice period? that way your resignation would coincide with the delivery of the V2 product. In this case, your employer is happy, good references are likely and you'll add that you were the sole developer to ship a major product on your CV.


I agree with @davnicwil and @SimpleJack. The answer to the legal question is clearly no, it is not abusive resignation. But I think the moral and strategic issues of whether you should leave before v2 is completed point clearly toward staying.

  1. Yes the lack of a replacement is the employer's fault. So what? Did you ever warn your boss about this? If not, you bear some moral responsibility for the consequences.

  2. Handing in your resignation now does not oblige you to leave in 3 months rather than 4. Even if you get a job offer immediately it is possible to negotiate a delay in the start date so that you can complete v2 for your current employer.

  3. You never know what might happen in the future, what consequences your decision to leave the company in a bad position will have for you. It could come back to bite you. Whereas storing up reserves of goodwill can only work out to your benefit later on.

  4. Leaving a job simply because you have lost interest in it is not a good sign. It will not impress future employers. The same thing is likely to happen in your next job, because you're taking the problem with you. You need to turn your attitude around before you leave. Like relationships, jobs get more rewarding as you work through the difficulties.


I'll add a bit to the choir of voices telling you to find a compromise. Realistically you leaving will hurt the company. For sure, it's not your problem, and it's very good to be aware of this fact. Especially in small and gelled companies/teams folks tend to forget that, with downsides for everyone involved.

But still, I'd try to find a compromise with the owners/managers: tell them your plan ASAP and work something to allow them to still succeed at their goals. They can assign a coworker of yours to the project to get up to speed. Or they can try to find somebody new ASAP if that plan can't work. Or they can scrap the plans for going to the trade show while still other more expensive commitments haven't been made. Or they can offer you something so you'll stay 'till the project is over - asking for 1-2 extra months atop the very long notice period doesn't seem like such a big deal. You can request a salary bump or something to make it more worthwhile.

At the end of the day, it's still a small industry. There's chances you're never gonna see these folks again. But there's also chances some of the folks there will be your colleagues, or managers at a future job, and their memory of you "abandoning ship when most needed" won't help you.


As I see it, it is for sure not abusive resignation but there is another angle which is you are completing a sort of achievement by delivering the new version. Even if you find a new job you can mention the situation and the new employer would understand as it is a moral obligation. They would respect you for that. 20 years ago I had an offer from P&G and I was working for a small software company and when I told them I cannot join until I deliver the project I am working on they waited for me I know you don’t have to do that. But wouldn’t it be nice for everyone?

  • 1
    Sorry I found your answer a bit difficult to follow ... are you suggesting that the OP should explain to the potential new employer that they can't give notice immediately due to an imminent release of their product which they are key to - but will be available in X months to work on the Y project? Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 19:38
  • Yes something in that direction Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 20:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .