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I recently received a lucrative offer from a company.

But after negotiations my current employer agreed on letting me do Work from Home for 6 months. I agreed and took back my resignation. We exchanged emails saying that "I have taken back my resignation" and my manager sent an email saying that "he will let me do work from home for 6 months".

He then asked me to raise a HR ticket informing that I will do WFH.

However HR responded on the ticket that only 30 days of WFH is allowed.

My employer is now asking me to come back to office as I have completed 30 days WFH as per policy.

During negotiations I was promised in writing that I can do WFH for 6 months (which is why I took back my resignation). Now they are not honoring this.

What would be a good way to navigate this situation?

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  • 14
    What country are you in? Dec 4, 2023 at 20:56
  • 12
    Probably depends on country, but: what can they do if you "simply" don't come back and just insist on what "the company" agreed to in writing?
    – Fildor
    Dec 5, 2023 at 8:17
  • 4
    Did you include a reference to the special deal with your manager in the ticket text? - If you just sent a standard ticket to HR without explanation it is expected they would simply deny it if the company policy usually only allows 30 days.
    – Falco
    Dec 5, 2023 at 10:08
  • 6
    Did you accept that after 6 months, you would be going back to the office? Or did you think you could negotiate another 6 months after that, because you proved it was possible?
    – Neil
    Dec 5, 2023 at 12:38
  • 5
    @Neil What difference would it make either way? If the company promised six months, they have to deliver at least six months. If the OP wants to go for more, that's an entirely separate thing.
    – aroth
    Dec 6, 2023 at 5:04

10 Answers 10

103

Refer to said email stating the allowance for WFH and let your manager handle HR.

Either way of how this goes I would start searching around and maybe contact the company that you turned down even if it only went 30 days. If they don't hold what they say and even fight back it seems like the type of company i wouldn't trust anymore.

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    If the OP did not include any information to the deal with his manager in the ticket, it is absolutely no red flag that HR denied the request if company policy is at most 30 days WFH. - I would not assume bad faith or incompetence. Responding to HR with manager in CC, citing the promised 6 months should immediately solve this without any bad aftertaste. Only if there is a problem after this mail, I would see it as a red flag.
    – Falco
    Dec 5, 2023 at 10:10
  • 10
    100% this - in my experience HR will fall back to policy unless really pushed otherwise. In my last job, it wasn't uncommon to agree "exceptional cases" from policy, but had to be signed off by snr management and often took multiple discussions at varying levels of seniority.
    – n00dle
    Dec 5, 2023 at 11:20
58

I think the key question here is: Does your manager have the authority to let you work from home for six months?

If they do, then you simply need to forward their statement agreeing to this to HR, and that should be the end of it.

If they don't, then they've either made an empty promise that they can't fulfil, or they've knowing lied to keep you from resigning.

In the former case, they need to go and argue with HR about this (and they're clearly somewhat invested in keeping you at least for the short term, or they wouldn't have made you a counter offer). If it's the latter, then you should be getting back out there looking for another job - and also take this as a lesson to think very carefully in future before accepting a counter offers.

In any case, your next step should be to respond to HR with a copy of the agreement that you made with your manager stating that you can work from home for the next six months, telling them that it's been approved by your manager. If they come back with anything other than "yes", then tell them they need to speak to discuss it with your manager, and let them fight it out between themselves while you look for a new job.

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  • 7
    Good answer, but it doesn't need to be an argument with HR. They may not be pleasant, but there's every chance they're reasonable and are about to have an unpleasant discussion with your boss. Dec 4, 2023 at 21:28
  • +1. OP's manager has just shown that they are either incompetent or unethical, depending on whether they knew they were making empty promises. In addition, they know that OP now know this. So in addition to what got OP job hunting in the first place, the current employer now knows that OP has an additional reason to jump ship soon. Consequence: the current employer is likely already looking for a replacement for OP. Dec 5, 2023 at 9:19
  • 8
    @StephanKolassa I don't think those are the only two options. It's entirely possible that OP's manager cleared it with someone in HR, but the message wasn't broadcast to the whole team. Or OP didn't provide context to HR that it was pre-agreed with their manager.
    – n00dle
    Dec 5, 2023 at 11:25
  • "If they don't, then they've either made an empty promise that they can't fulfil, or they've knowing lied to keep you from resigning." - Neither of which is the OP's problem. They were promised something, and have written evidence of it. Internal technicalities about who has authority to promise what aren't the OP's concern. If the manager overstepped their bounds, that's something to be sorted out between the manager and the manager's manager. In the meantime the OP gets what they were promised, or is entitled to damages arising from the broken promise.
    – aroth
    Dec 6, 2023 at 5:09
  • @aroth: I don't know what country this is in. There are countries where what you say is true, and there are countries where the company owes you exactly nothing beyond your paycheck.
    – Kevin
    Dec 7, 2023 at 18:48
36

This is one of the reasons why it is common lore (although the actual veracity of it is debated) that one shouldn't accept a counter-offer from the company.

Your position on this matter should be the following:

  • A condition of your continued employment was agreeing to working from home for 6 months
  • If that condition is not met, then you will be exiting the company immediately (you have already given notice)

It's good that you have it in writing - I would be tempted to take this as high up the chain as you can.

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  • 2
    I agree with the lore: I would not except a counter-offer unless it was purely about money or some other immediate tangible. For me, it has always been something else, and not tangible.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 5, 2023 at 22:24
  • Related link: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/50585/…
    – user20925
    Dec 6, 2023 at 22:42
  • There is wisdom in the lore. I had a CTO basically change their mind about a plan that was gradual as they didn't have the means in the moment to fully counter. First opportunity outside of payroll to not live up to their end fully they didn't live up to their end fully. Turned down a really interesting role for those assurances.
    – Rig
    Dec 14, 2023 at 16:38
13

What should I do?

Start looking for a new company to work for.

In the future, make sure that any agreed upon changes to your pay, benefits, conditions,....etc. are either added on to your contract ( which both you and your employer should newly sign ) or a new contract is written up with the negotiated terms that both you and your employer sign before you consider rescinding a resignation, accepting a new position,....etc.

In this case, while you did have an email trail of negotiations between your boss and yourself, it looks like this was not considered official in your company for changing the terms of your employment. HR has already made it clear the work from home that the company is willing to allow, which is not in line with what you want.

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    This seems a bit harsh. As other answers pointed out, it might be a simple misunderstanding between HR and the manager. Company policy might simply be a maximum of 30 days for WFH that the manager was unaware of. Bringing both departments into contact should resolve the issue without having to resort to quitting.
    – Jacques
    Dec 5, 2023 at 11:22
  • For some reason, almost every question here gets at least one "look for another job" answer. Maybe we should do what quora did and include a box with the obvious versatile answer to every workplace issue.
    – Therac
    Dec 5, 2023 at 18:38
  • "Company policy might simply be a maximum of 30 days for WFH that the manager was unaware of" But that would mean the manager negotiated by offering terms he was not in a position to offer. Doing that knowingly would be unethical, doing that while not knowing points to someone's incompetence. Hence, look for a new job
    – eques
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:29
  • @Jacques You are right, it could have been a misunderstanding but if the manager was wrong as it appears to be, how is the issue going to get resolved? If the policy is 30 days, do you really think HR will allow an extra 150 days exemption due to a misunderstanding? That is the only way to resolve this issue.
    – sf02
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:42
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    @Jacques OP was already ready to leave the company, they handed their resignation. The promise made to keep them on board doesn't look like it will be fulfilled. Maybe they were "running away" when they handed their resignation, but certainly they would not be running away after being mislead by the company.
    – sf02
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:07
9

You learned that the HR can only allow 30 days of WFH. However, you don't know (or at least didn't tell us) how often they can do it.

For me, the sensible next step seems to file another WFH ticket, citing that it has already been pre-approved by your manager (attach the written agreement if your ticket system allows).

If the HR declines, it's time to ask your manager to help with settling things with HR in favor of the agreement you together found to be in best interest of the company. Treating the manager as an ally who can use their power to help you, maximizes the chances they would just do that.

6

my manager sent an email saying that "he will let me do work from home for 6 months".

He then asked me to raise a HR ticket informing that I will do WFH.

This is a case where you need to manage 'up', ie you need to manage your manager - that is, 'up' the normal chain of command.

Inform him in writing that this is his responsibility to fix. Be polite, yet clear and concise. Set a reasonable deadline and communicate it.

The goal is, of course, Prachi being allowed to work from home for 6 months.

You do not need to spell out the consequences of failing to live up to expectations. Termination of contract and is implicitly clear.

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    Manage up - yes, agreed. His to fix - yes, agreed. But before I told my manager "that this is his responsibility to fix" I would inform him that it happened - with the question at the end, "How do you want me to proceed?" It should be obvious that, depending on the manager's response, you may later have tell manager "this is his responsibility to fix". Dec 5, 2023 at 16:24
3

It's pretty obvious that your manager has simply told you what you wanted to hear, and hasn't got approval from the company at all. If he had, HR would know everything about the changed work arrangement, and would have sent you an updated contract of employment to reflect this. For the same reason, there would be no need for you to tell them anything.

What can you do about this? Nothing. If you go the legal route your employer is simply going to state that your manager acted outside his authority - which is entirely true - and that as such, the company isn't liable for those actions and cannot be held to them. At worst the manager will be disciplined, but it still leaves you out in the cold.

Take this as a life lesson: "in writing" doesn't mean anything unless it comes in the form of an amended contract of employment from the HR department.

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  • "an amended contract of employment" assumes that OP works where employment contracts exist.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 5, 2023 at 20:29
  • 4
    @IanKemp Your presumption that the company cannot be held to promises made by the manager is legally dubious is many countries. Dec 6, 2023 at 8:28
3

What would be a good way to navigate this situation?

First is to understand/appreciate what is going on.
The first HR response to you (or me, or anyone) is generally what their policy is, and that they cannot make exceptions. This is a normal part of dealing with HR, generally there is a combination of poor staffing and underpaid low level HR people that are the 'first responders' in most companies.

Other answers have mentioned:

  • contacting HR again
  • quitting and/or resume looking for a new job, and
  • contacting legal.

Here's the order I would tackle them in - if you haven't already responded to anyone:

  1. First contact your manager who signed the promise to you.
    Forward HRs response with this prefix: "At your request, I created the HR ticket informing that I will do WFH for six full months' but their response was that I'm only allowed one month, and I need to start coming in. How do you want me to proceed?"
    This message must be in writing (email counts, keep a copy for yourself - printed or BCC to a personal email account) because you may need to prove it happened.

I've had a number of times when the manager said, yeah don't worry it is approved you don't have to come in I will handle it.
NOTE: Be sure they (within a couple days) send you an email that says it is all handled and specifically says you can work from home until X.

In my past there was one case where answer from HR to me (an answer about 3.27 hours of PTO) was stupid. My managers response was, "That's not just stupid, but it is morally and legally wrong. Let me know when and you just take a full afternoon off, without putting it into the time system. Do you agree that will make it right?" I did agree.

Why contact the manager first?
In general, you contact your manager before replying to HR to give him/her a chance to correct it, if they want to... it's a courtesy to them – and it keeps HR from digging in its heels. In this case you have something in writing, so that's less likely to happen. Regardless it gives the manager a chance to work it out with HR, without it exploding into a big deal.

At this point you need to make sure you have a copy of everything that has transpired – your signed modification, the rejection from HR and any communications done below. A copy that is accessible to you even if they turn off your company access.

  1. Step two is where it can get ugly.
    Definitely restart your job search and/or contact the previous company to see if that job is still an option.

If your manager folds:
If your manager says, "Well, I'm sorry I thought HR would allow that"
Or if your manager says "After we did that, they made a new policy, I'm sorry"

Attach the signed copy of the work agreement to the HR ticket, with text that says something like:

"I'm sorry, I guess you didn't realize that this is already a special case and it has already been approved. I was asked to send this in just to have it documented. Please reference attached to view my signed job modification that allows six months instead of one. My manager said I needed to inform HR, I'm sorry that I didn't attach this to the original ticket."

Reminder, you'll want a new copy of the HR ticket – if you cannot print it, then forward an email to the rejecting HR person's email address and BCC your personal email account. If you cannot do that create a new ticket with the text and the same verbiage from above.

  1. Contact their legal department, if they have one.
    Many firms use outside council and if you don't know who that is, you'll have to decide who to contact – the head of HR, the President, the CCO, the CFO, and the CEO are all good choices (in that order).

It should be obvious taking a new position with another company is probably a better path than doing step #3. When anyone asks you why you left you have the paper trail showing they went back on a promise – and I'd hire you in a second based on that fact: you wanted to stay rather than leave, and you made a reasonable request.
But sometimes the hassle is worth it if you feel wronged enough to put up the fight.

It should also be obvious that if it goes beyond step #1, you may be involved in an (openly or secretly) hostile work environment, where someone is watching you carefully.
(Maybe "hostile" isn't the best word, but I couldn't think of a better word for close observation for the purpose of catching you make a mistake.)

2

Forward all the communications to the company's CLO (Chief Legal Officer).

It is their job to mitigate risk. They will see a fight they will lose.

Politely and in as few words as possible, state that you: Gave up a better job based on the promise of the manager. HR is not keeping the promise. You would like to solve the issue in-house. You only want what you were promised.

To @Xavier J's point, I am not a lawyer. I am a long-time business owner. The manager effectively made a contract that a reasonable person would expect to be at least 6 months. In the US, even in a right-to-work state, a lawyer would jump at the opportunity to sue. A CLO isn't going to waste company time and money fighting something as minimal as an "HR Generalist" coming up with a meaningless rule.

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    This doesn't work at a company where there's at-will employment. Risk? They can just fire him.
    – Xavier J
    Dec 5, 2023 at 20:16
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    I haven't heard of any company where it's common to contact the CXO level directly for stuff like this. Regardless, I think it's probably not wise to make the company see a fight. If I were part of the company and an employee responded like this, I'd either fire them without cause and pay their severance (assuming one is owed), or keep them far away from any important work until they quit. Either way, companies don't want employees that start fights, and especially that escalate them to the CXO level. Dec 7, 2023 at 18:20
  • 1
    @XavierJ: Then OP gets unemployment.
    – Joshua
    Dec 7, 2023 at 18:59
  • @Joshua Yes, for a while. But even if a company has to pay out an unemployment claim, it can be cheaper for the company and cause less damage than keeping a disgruntled employee on the payroll.
    – Xavier J
    Dec 7, 2023 at 20:32
1

If you want to continue to work for the company you should, as others have said, work with management (primarily your boss and their boss) to see if you can get another five months of WFH. If you're valuable enough to the company, perhaps you can.

However, assuming you live in the US and don't have a contract (such as a union contract) that would prevent it, in general you can be let go for any or no reason at any time -- with a few exceptions such as being let go because you're a member of a protected class (although the fact that you are a member of a protected class doesn't legally preclude you from being let go). Although, laws vary somewhat from state to state.

Did the manager's email promise you six months of continued employment or just promise you that you could work from home for the next six months if you were working there that long?

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