My current employer requires 30 days' notice when resigning. I recently interviewed with a new potential employer and during our first interview, I mentioned this to him and he stated that it was "extreme." He told me it could probably be stretched to 3 weeks by handing in my resignation when I receive the offer, PRIOR to my background and drug test being done (I'm not worried about the results of either in the slightest bit), but it seems like a risk in the sense that I could essentially be resigning from my current job without yet having an iron-clad offer in writing with a new employer? Is there any way they could back out of the agreement even when my background/drug tests come back clear?

I don't want to leave my current employer hanging, either. They are a small company and will surely feel the hit if I leave and would even have a hard time transitioning my work to someone else in a month. I'm not angry with my current employer - I'm just looking to advance my career and proceed on the right path. What is the best way to proceed in this situation?

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    This depends on your location. In most places in the U.S., you don't need to give 30 seconds' notice. However, it may make you ineligible for some commissions or bonuses you are due, depending on your contract. – Wesley Long Feb 2 '15 at 19:55
  • I'm definitely not due any bonuses or commissions. I'm strictly salaried, but I am trying to determine whether trying to get as close to their 30 days' notice requirement as reasonably possible is sufficient. I don't want to make myself ineligible for new opportunities that require I start sooner than the employer I'm trying to leave requires. – jobseeker22 Feb 2 '15 at 20:08
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    A former comrade gave me a recommendation regarding a similar subject. If they are that impractical in their requirements before you even start how are they going to treat you once you work for them? Not really an answer just food for thought. – Dopeybob435 Feb 2 '15 at 20:12
  • This is a fair point. The HR person that called my caveat "extreme" I think was trying to play ball. He probably could use this in negotiations against me if he wanted to. The woman I interviewed with who would be my supervisor was much more reasonable. She said, "That's okay - I'd rather the person be the right fit than rush to get someone to fill the position." – jobseeker22 Feb 2 '15 at 20:32
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    Your new employer should not have a problem honoring your 30 day obligation. If they do then I would wonder if they are willing to fulfill their obligations to you. Either way what to do is off topic here. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 2 '15 at 20:49

Is there any way they could back out of the agreement even when my background/drug tests come back clear?

Certainly. As a general rule of thumb, verbal agreements are worth the paper they are printed on... nothing, that is, if one side does not wish to adhere to the agreement.

In addition, what agreement specifically are you referring to?

  • "We will extend you an offer if the background and drug tests are OK" - if this is what your new employer is saying, they should not have a problem in putting this conditional offer in writing. Then you have something that you can work with.
  • "We will run background and drug tests on you and then we may extend an offer" - in this case, you don't have an offer yet. Resigning your current job based on this would be rather optimistic. How many other candidates are they running their checks on to finally make an offer to the highest ranking candidate that passed their tests (which may or may not be you)?

I'd agree with @Dopeybob435's comment. 30 days is really not all that extreme. (In Europe, notice periods are routinely three months or even more, and we somehow manage.) If your new employer makes a fuss about this already, you apparently are not important enough to them for them to wait an additional two weeks for you beyond the ordinary two weeks' period. I'd wonder what else this employer will be problematic about.

  • And you could always use up your outstanding leave to shorten the time – Pepone Feb 2 '15 at 23:11
  • @pepione, most employers do not allow the use of vaction time after you have given notice. – HLGEM Feb 3 '15 at 14:44
  • @HLGEM I have heard of employers "paying out" vacation and then terminating early, however. (Same end-state, except for things like company insurance and such). – Allen Gould Aug 4 '15 at 21:03

Occasionally HR decide it's their role to be mean to people when nobody asked them to and without considering the consequences. This might be one of those times.

If you have a contract which guarantees you and your employer that notice, then make it clear that you will need to give thirty days from the point at which they send you a written offer of employment.

It's then up to them to either hurry up and make you an offer or decide to offer the job to someone less qualified who's available sooner. If they make you an offer with a start date you can't make, it says they don't take contractual obligations seriously and you should weigh that up when making your decision.

Is there any way they could back out of the agreement even when my background/drug tests come back clear?

Only if you have a minimum notice period in the contract they sent you and signed or in statute do you have any practical protection here. If they have no obligation to continue the employment relationship, they have probably no obligation to pay you anything.

Finally, 30 days is a perfectly normal notice period. That said, do check the agreement - if it's not expressed in definite terms but as a "wouldn't it be nice if..." document that you couldn't rely on to ensure you got paid 30 days' notice too then the only thing you're bound by is your statutory minimum period (which varies by jurisdiction, check with your union rep or whoever else you go to for such things). Still, get a written offer.

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