I tried to make the title as neutral as possible, but the reality is that "I" (I am asking on behalf of a relative I know well) am doing at least 2 people's job, being paid the bare minimum, and with no chance of climbing (in the last month, two of my coworkers have been let go because they were "too expensive" being paid a few thousand euros more than I am).

It really is not that big of an amount, we are well below the average pay in our country, and work so many unpaid hours, with so little reward, literally everyone is burnt out, many of my coworkers have depression or big amounts of stress or have health related issues because of how much we have to work to keep up.

So my boss and CEO of my (used to be 15 people) company talks to me about how my big client is now leaving (the client cut all investment in my country, it's not really related to my performance whatsoever in this case) about letting me go. It's hard for me to accept, but honestly I want out, it's too much for my health.

Yesterday he called out of work hours rambling about trying to get new clients for me and making it work for me like he was doing me a favor when the reality is he wanted to dump all of my work to the intern (being paid 500€ a month) and that intern said she cannot possibly do it (she already works more than a regular person would do in a sane company).

I am trying to come up with ideas on how to politely communicate my employer that I would rather prefer we keep the plans of our first talk, he fires me, and I am free to file for unemployment, get healthy again, and look for a better company in the meantime.

Ideas I have so far:

  • I have been thinking about our last two talks and given my personal situation and the situation the company is in, I believe it is better if we keep the original plan and part different ways as of 31st.

  • Given the circumstances, I would rather be fired on the 31st as we agreed so I can put my life back on track.

  • I am not comfortable here anymore (because of the firing of my seniors and people that were trustworthy to him), and I feel like I need to try something different.

  • I think it is better for both the company and myself to part ways.

Would that be too bold? Can I improve my view on this issue?

Thanks in advance, it is a hard thing for me to ask.

Edit: I would love to first find a job, but I have been trying for almost two years with no success, so it is unlikely to find any in short notice (say, a few months), since it has not happened so far.

  • 6
    It is probably worth another question OP, but there should be plenty of others already existing on how to improve your chances to land a job as this is what you really need IMO, and core root of your problems.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 12:21
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    A big factor in how you approach this and one we can't cover here is whether you are officially considered fired or not. There's a big risk in the CEO concluding you are parting ways in mutual consent if you push for an exit which could presumably jeopardise unemployment.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 13:59
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    To put what @Lilienthal said in a different way, if you push to part ways with your employer when they want to keep you on, that could be considered as you quitting, rather than being fired. And quitting, at least in the USA, would generally prevent you from getting unemployment benefits. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 16:27
  • 2
    @computercarguy it works the same in my country, and what options does that leave you? it feels like being kidnapped by someone abusing you and threaten your life source all at once.
    – keont
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 16:46
  • 1
    @keont, I've answered you in an actual answer below. Hopefully it helps! Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 17:54

7 Answers 7


So... right now, you want to be fired, rather than quitting - so that you can get the unemployment, so that you have the space to rebuild yourself psychologically, and then shape a life that isn't so toxic. One of your biggest problems is that your boss is insisting on you working large amounts of unpaid overtime.

These two problems? They solve each other. Just refuse to keep working unpaid overtime.

Your boss is a people person who's in an untenable situation, and the only solution he sees is to squeeze ever more out of his employees. He's going to pour as much honey as he can on that thing, but he's never going to agree to give you up if he thinks he can use you as a shovel to dig himself out of the hole. He'll just keep asking more and more, and never, ever give you a polite way out. You don't need to be polite.

His needs are fundamentally opposed to your needs. You need to stop breaking yourself on the wheel of his demands. He needs you to break yourself even more. He's never going to be happy with any answer that gives you what you need. You don't need to keep him happy.

Once you accept that, you can just stand up for yourself. Even be a bit brutal about it. Tell him that the ship is sinking, and that you simply refuse to work more than a certain number of hours per week (like, 40). Most likely, he'll rant, he'll rage, and he'll do whatever he can to make you feel terrible for not sacrificing yourself on his behalf. Given his skillset, he'll probably be pretty good at it, too. It sucks, and I'm sorry. At the end of the day, though, right now he can't afford to keep on people who are only doing an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. He'll fire you... and you'll get what you need.

...and then, after you've had some chance to recover from this horrible experience, and get a bit more of your right mind about you, then it will be time to start thinking about where you can go from where you are. That sort of decision making works a lot better when you have a decent supply of mental reserves to work with, and you may find better paths than you can now see.

  • 12
    I agree with this work your 40 hours period. He will either comply and your life will get better or fire you. Seems like a win-win for you.
    – cybernard
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 1:14
  • 8
    This is the right answer for OP's problem. Especially with the clarifications from their comments. Have my upvote!
    – Syndic
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 7:34
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    I agree in principle but the one thing I would change is "Tell him that the ship is sinking". Don't comment on the company, simply state your own position - "I'm going to be working my 40 hours a week, not more"
    – Dragonel
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 22:19
  • 2
    Right, I wouldn't tell him that the ship is sinking, but you can say "Having to resort to unpaid overtime to survive isn't a sustainable business plan, and I found my health and work quality are on a downward ramp so I cannot even help." This even leaves him a reason to agree to fire you, plus it is the basis for declaring you can't do more than 40 hours anymore - "no bad faith, boss, it's just that if I break down you'll get zero results which is worse than 40-hour results".
    – toolforger
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 7:25
  • 1
    @ErikErskine I would recommend not giving reasons for why you no longer wish to work beyond normal hours, especially to a boss like this. He's likely only to use the to argue against you, which is counterproductive. If the boss asks why, just say, "for personal reasons" and simply repeat that if he tries to probe further.
    – cjs
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 0:56

Can I improve my view on this issue?

Get a new job and then quit. Don't wait to be fired or try and get fired. That looks bad on your CV in the future. Whereas it's perfectly fine to accept another job.

Once you have decided on a course like this and started seriously implementing it, your focus and priorities will change. The things that are frustrating you right now become more like temporary annoyances rather than huge issues because you already have one foot out of the door.

It's your career and life don't let others dictate it for you or hold you back to accomplish their agendas.

How should I communicate this?

You don't until it is a fait accompli, you owe the CEO nothing except the work he is paying you for.

From comment you have been job searching but your industry is weak. So, change industries, that isn't a reason to let yourself be held back and your health suffer. All you need is a job that keeps you fed while you look for the job and situation you want.

  • 52
    The way you inform your boss is by asking for a meeting after you know your new start date, informing him you are resigning, and handing him a resignation letter stating clearly your last day. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:15
  • 7
    I agree searching for a new job is the way to go, but I have been doing that for almost two years with no success. My industry is simply too abusive right now, everyone I know has the same issues, and almost no one finds a job to improve their situation. I have not been able to. So in that sense, there is not going to be a new start date anywhere, specially with the current crisis (many people I know are being threatened of being fired).
    – keont
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:39
  • 1
    Also, some jobs are so stressful that getting out before finding a new job is worth regaining your health. The best scenario is getting a job before quitting, but that's just not always the best answer. The OP can try staffing agencies or moving to a different location, too. I've used staffing agencies, for better and worse, through most of my career. I also just recently moved 2000 miles for better job opportunities. None of it is easy, and getting a job when you already have one is easier than not, but sometimes you can't take the good advice, since it doesn't apply. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 16:37
  • 6
    @computercarguy From the OP's description, their industry has widespread abuse and poor job prospects. Unless they see a lot of improvement in that on the horizon, changing industries is the best possible scenario here. Not only does it get them out of this situation, it positions them for better career opportunities in a viable industry. I'm sure they can leverage some of their education and experience to jump to another path, even if they have to take a small step backward in career level to get there.
    – Bloodgain
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 21:37
  • 1
    @Bloodgain, sure, absolutely. I'm just saying they shouldn't "change industries" into food service or seasonal hardware store work just because they are temporarily having issues finding a job. Sure, they can work those jobs to make ends meet, but not to expect a new career out of it while maintaining their lifestyle. A deliberate decision needs to be made when changing industries, rather than a rash one. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 21:41

Your company's resources are overstretched and can't pay employees properly anymore.

Of course none of us know the true picture of what happens within the company. However, from what you're telling us, it appears the company doesn't have the resources (nor the means to get more) to get everything done in good order.

I think it's entirely possible he fired people not because of their performance, but simply because he can't pay them.

The responsibility doesn't lie with you.

You are not to blame for the problem.

I don't think he's going to fire you.

He needs you to keep operations going. Getting new people would be too costly on resources. He probably knows you need the unemployment money, which you won't get if you quit - so he is probably comfortable knowing you won't quit.

Get your CV and LinkedIn Profile ready.

Your boss wants to keep you because you are reliable and cheap, but its entirely possible that the entire company will go bankrupt. You will be out of a job. Start interviewing.

Get out on your own terms, not with what the company offers you.

  • I agree with this answer, I think it is very possible the company cannot keep up much longer. The problem is, in the meantime, as I said, there is no jobs I can find, as hard as I try, so I do not know how to deal with that, other than first focusing on getting out of this job and then looking for the next. Thanks for the answer!
    – keont
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:43
  • 3
    @keont you live in Europe, right? Usually, if you have a good LinkedIn profile, recruiters will swarm towards your profile if you put on your profile that you're open to ''new opportunities'' (under account settings). Try that. It depends on your industry though, but if you're in IT, you'll be surprised.
    – Lucas
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:45
  • 1
    "I" am a journalist based on Europe that is specialized as a Social media manager, on post-production of audiovisual pieces, and can work with facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin ads campaigns. I agree IT is much easier, but is not my area unfortunately
    – keont
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:47
  • @keont can ''you'' do a (partial) career change? Move to another city where there is work?
    – Lucas
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 9:04
  • 3
    With that after hours call, I definitely agree the company is in trouble, and the CEO is scrambling to get work/customers. The problem is that they think everyone on the payroll is as invested in the company as they are, so they will automatically just "help out wherever and however much", out of loyalty to the company. Yet this same CEO shows no loyalty to the employees by firing people out of hand. Yeah, get out as soon as you can, otherwise you might be fighting to get later paychecks when the company fails and can't pay them. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 16:44

I wasn't going to write an answer, but with my "unique" experience and the question the OP asked me directly in the comments, I'm going to.

Critique of other answers (as of writing this answer)

Kilisi has a good answer, but only in situations where the company isn't as toxic as this one is. Leaving only after finding another job is usually the prescribed solution, but in situations as bad as this one is, you need to get out before the company sinks and takes you with it. It's affecting people's health, they are being exploited by not getting paid for their work, and the CEO is apparently scrambling to find customers. This is a really bad situation that needs to be left behind sooner rather than later.

SZCZERZO KŁY starts out with a good observation, but the advice isn't the greatest based on how likely the CEO is to react badly to it. This could very well end up with the OP losing their unemployment benefits, since the CEO could easily say the OP quit, instead of being fired.

Lucas has the best answer so far. Get out while you can. It's not your responsibility to keep the company going, and the CEO doesn't seem to know how to prevent things from getting worse.

As for the question asked me in the comments

Quitting prevents getting unemployment benefits, so "[...] what options does that leave you? it feels like being kidnapped by someone abusing you and threaten your life source all at once."

You make the best decision you can with bad options.

Staying isn't good, but leaving without a replacement job isn't good either.

If you have any money saved, you might be able to get out now without a job waiting for you. This is part of the reason why people suggesting having +6 months of living expenses in savings at any given time. It's almost always better to get away from a horrible situation first, then figure out the next move, but that's up to you to figure out which is the worst of the situations you face.

My History

I've only quit one job without +2 weeks notice, and that was a rage quit after months of verbal abuse by a manager and a verbal fight with him that day, over some perceived offense by me. I've also quit a job to relocate 2000 miles without having a job waiting for me, but I had several thousand (4-6 months expenses) saved to fall back on. I've also secretly done job searches and interviews to leave positions I had learned to hate, because they were taking advantage of me. Or they were trying to take advantage of me and I wouldn't let them.

Yes, I've worked overtime without pay. Yes, I've worked menial labor jobs to get by, but only while I was still going to college. Yes, I've changed industries and gotten better jobs because of it. Yes, I've worked 3-6 months on temp-to-hire contracts that never hired, followed by 6-10 months of no work. Yes, I've been told on a Friday that I don't need to worry about coming in on Monday, or any day after that, due to lack of work. Yes, I've been told on a Wednesday that my last day will be Friday, due to economic reasons. Yes, I've had dozens of other jobs that vanished with little to no reason with little to no notice, including jobs that ended due to "end of contract". Yes, I've worked for a company for 4 years that started out great, only to end up trying to push me out by less than polite means.

Why my history matters

I've been in so many different situations that I know there is no single "1 answer for every problem".

My advice is to try to work until you find another job, but if that's not feasible, make the decision to work until the 31st with that being your last day, as previously mentioned by your CEO. If you are fired due to lack of work, then so be it, you'll be getting unemployment benefits. If you aren't fired and you can't force yourself to even consider working there any longer, quit and clean out your desk that day. If even that's too long, quit now and take some deep breaths to help calm your mind and feel your freedom.

Regardless when your job ends or why it ends, start your job search now. If you get fired, file your unemployment paperwork within 24 hours. The same day would be good, but wanting to party or blow off steam after work would be totally justified. The sooner you file that claim, the better. Also, don't be afraid to consult a service to redo your CV/resume. Some are better than others, so beware, but getting professional help to add keywords, rewrite negative statements more positively, and prompt you to add more relevant material while trimming non-relevant info can all be good things.

It's unfortunate how your previous job search went, but that won't be the way it always is. The fact that you make it sound like you were going to get those jobs before outside factors got in the way says that you are employable, but maybe not in the way you currently expect. Maybe you work for the consulting firm, instead of the main company directly. Maybe you move to a different location where jobs like yours are more prevalent. Maybe you work remotely.

"I" am a journalist based on Europe that is specialized as a Social media manager, on post-production of audiovisual pieces, and can work with facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin ads campaigns.

With that comment, I'd say that you could easily work remotely for almost any company on Earth who is modern enough to need your services. There are plenty of freelance jobs for what you do that you might consider starting your own business doing it for smaller companies. You'll need your own computer and some other equipment and resources, but it shouldn't be too hard. I've done it with very few resources to pull from. And you might want to look at the Freelancing SO/SE forum to get a better idea of what's available for options. There's a lot of sites dedicated to being a gateway between freelancers and customers.

Granted, starting your own business takes time, money, and a lot of work and determination. Many businesses fail even when there are plenty of reasons why they shouldn't have. On the other hand, many businesses flourish into something big. But on the flip side of that same hand, many businesses either stay small due to lack of work or stay small due to a decision to stay small.

There's too many options here to discuss, and I've already gone really far off the original question, but know that your current job isn't your life, it's not the end of the world when it ends, and you have a lot of other options to replace it with.


I have advice on getting another job quickly and easily - and enhancing your career in the process. I call it Deliberate Network Development. It works for Sales and Job Hunting.

The basic idea is that you would prefer to tap into people's network than merely their own opportunities - and that the best way to do that is to (a) ask for advice not a job (not enough people do that) (b) take that advice (hardly anyone does that) and (c) feed back the impact the advice made (no one does that).

The two pieces of advice you are after are:

  1. How would you go about it, if you were in my shoes?
  2. Who else would you get advice from?

The key phrase to use at the end of every conversation, after thanking them for specific advice elements, is "I will try that and speak to X and let you know how I get on". Then do exactly that.

I have one client who was unable to get a single interview or make a single long-term contact in 4 months, but made 42 new contacts - and referrals into their networks and got offered three jobs - all within one month. Lmk if you want further details.


As others have suggested, "you" are part of this problem by working more hours than "you" are being paid for. "You" need to stop that.

There are a combination of methods "you" can use to do this without appearing to be the bad guy. This will force "your" boss to either accept a reasonable work/life balance or fire "you".

First, never promise to do something you are not willing to deliver. Do not allow other people's unreasonable expectations to pressure you to do more work. If the boss says, "Hey, can you get X done by Y?" you say something like, "Yes, but then Z won't be done by Tuesday." Or, "No, it won't be done until Friday."

Ruthlessly manage expectations. Always accurately communicate what you can and can't do and make the person who directly manages you set your priorities.

Be sure to always deliver as close to what you say you will deliver as humanly possible. Never leave your boss without something expected.

If you get an email asking you to do something by a particular date, respond with what you are currently working on and asking which is the priority. Or respond that it cannot be done by that date and will be done by some other date.

Communicate as accurately and completely as you can, but do not ever agree to anything that you do not think you can do without overworking. Your boss will quickly figure out what you are willing and able to do and will either accept that or will fire you. Either option is acceptable.

The key thing is not to say something like "I'll see what I can do". That robs your boss of the ability to set your priorities, which is their job. It is your job to accurately tell your manager what you can do so your manager can set your priorities. Overpromising or allowing unrealistic expectations to stand are what sets you up for overwork, pressure, and/or failure.


Personal note: from what you wrote it looks like employeers is thinking they're making his employees a favour by emploing them. So in his opinion employee wanting out might be "disrespectful".

So I would advise you to keep the responsibility on his side

I'm sorry but due to the nature of our previous talk I made some necessary steps and at this moment I don't see my future in this company. I think it is better for both the company and myself to keep OUR previous agreement to part ways.

Try to not get fired but have two side agreement of job termination.

  • 1
    I think the same way about my employee and doing as favours. One of my fears is precisely he believes it is disrespectful, and reacts poorly or out of spite (hurting the company in his view, not firing my as he was going to, just to mess with me).
    – keont
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 8:42

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