I started working for an hardware startup last year as a contractor developer.

The company was quite at an early stage and their product wasn't up to scratch yet but after being assured by the CEO the product will be ready in a couple of months I accepted to join them full time.

Fast forward 3 months and the product development hasn't moved much partly due to lack of engineering force in our team (and an over abundance of marketing employees IMO).

As a software developer I'm spending my time working on their site without any clear direction whatsoever and asked to work over time to do prototypes and impromptu projects to wow investors.

I'm offered shares of the company which I refuse as I start to doubt some management choices.

New projects are rarely planned ahead and mostly end with accusations from the CEO to his employers for not pulling their weight. Three people get fired and one person leaves the company.

Needless to say, the projects were all abandoned.

Finally, one year after being hired, I decide to give one month notice to my boss. This was met with a peaceful proposal of remaining in the team part-time to allow me doing other work as well, at least for an initial period. I accept but, unfortunately, this was never formalised into a contract.

Three weeks later (just before starting my part time) the offer gets scrapped, for two days I'm almost lured in to going back full time, but in the end I prefer to leave the company.

When I give my second notice the CEO is accusing me of jeopardising them, of being dishonest and personally betraying him.

I have already taken commitments for this month outside this company. Still my boss says that we're not leaving in good terms and that I won't get any reference.

It's the first time something like this happened to me in 8 years of work.

What shall I do?

edit: I thought I'd clarify my question. As he never accepted my notice I am afraid he won't let me work part time this month. What can I do in this case, where I don't have a formal agreement?

I'm not worried about bad references as I got good ones from my previous employers.

  • 2
    "What shall I do" is a rather hard question for anyone to answer because we have no idea what your goal is. You've resigned and you've apparently started working elsewhere so it's not obvious that there is anything to do. What your former boss is required to say/ not say about you is a very location-specific thing. But if the company is going out of business and you've got references from previous and future companies, it's hard to imagine that impacts you much. Oct 9, 2015 at 22:00
  • In the end you can quit whenever you want (though there are obvious ethical concerns with spontaneously leaving). If you've given standard notice and you don't need to worry about burning bridges, where's the problem here?
    – S. Grey
    Oct 10, 2015 at 5:35
  • This CEO really sounds familiar,you arent in Norwich UK are you? :) I had the same issue, wasnt allowed to quit and was bullied into staying, pretty much by the same things you are being bullied with. In the end, I just sent my last quitting email to everyone on the board and walked away that day - the sent threatening emails and even came to my house to confront me, but after a few weeks he tailed off and that was that.
    – user34687
    Oct 11, 2015 at 11:37
  • Country? Sounds like India, which has some rather broken processes.
    – keshlam
    Oct 11, 2015 at 19:41
  • It's UK but it's the first time I came across this problem in my working experience. My notice wasn't accepted as I agreed to stay part-time the first time I gave it. Oct 11, 2015 at 21:44

3 Answers 3


First off, you are not jeopardizing the company. It is the company's responsibility to make sure the company can continue in case an important worker is lost. If they cannot operate without you, that is unfortunate, but not your responsibility.

If you feel it is best to leave the company, then that is your choice and your right. They cannot force you to stay.

From your post it sounds like your boss is not being reasonable. At this point, it is probably not worth reasoning with him. If he won't give you a good recommendation, let it be. You already have other commitments and can move on. Just dont use them as a reference. If another potential employee wants to contact them, explain the situation honestly, things like this happen. Hopefully, your other references are positive and that one can be overlooked.

  • 3
    "It is the company's responsibility to make sure the company can continue in case an important worker is lost. If they cannot operate without you, that is unfortunate, but not your responsibility." This is a good point. Thank you. Oct 9, 2015 at 22:10
  • @refinedcaveman If you feel generous, you can offer to help the transition after hours or on weekends. For free or pay, that is your choice. Of course, if you choose for pay, have a written contract. Perhaps extending that olive branch will help get you a good reference.
    – Keltari
    Oct 10, 2015 at 0:41
  • 1
    @Keltari problem is, thats a good way to become even more beholden to the company. Just cut ties, chalk it up as experience and move on.
    – user34687
    Oct 11, 2015 at 17:30
  • @mo absolutely not. If they want to hire him back as a consultant, that proves they need him. He has all the power at that point. Regardless, he can walk away at any point.
    – Keltari
    Oct 13, 2015 at 2:43

Unless you work in a country that requires a "release letter" or something similar to that then I can only say that what happens next is essentially up to you.

Your boss can't refuse your notice; that's the whole point of notice. That's why it's called giving notice and not making a request. You're telling them that you will be leaving, not asking if you can.

As for them refusing to give you a good reference, you can tell future employers that your boss "refused" to accept your notice and took this action. You will presumably have other references and providing that the bad reference/no reference from this boss is an exception rather than a rule then I would imagine most new employers will be prepared to accept that.


I stopped reading the "one month notice" part.

I assume this is in the United States. You know if they fire you, you know how much "notice" you get? 15 minutes to clear out your desk escorted by security guards.

You owe your company ZERO notice. That's what "employment at will" means.

As for the part-time work, I think you are way beyond the point where you should be seeking to work more for this company. You need to leave and focus on your next position.

  • 4
    Many jurisdictions are different - and even in at will jurisdictions, if you want a reference you will try to leave cordially with notice.
    – HorusKol
    Oct 11, 2015 at 1:37
  • And many companies will abide by self-imposed notice periods, even in at-will employment states.
    – Peter K.
    Oct 12, 2015 at 0:39
  • @HorusKol Based on the text of the question, I don't getting a favorable reference is in the cards. Also, I realize you are in Australia. In the US every "jurisdiction" is the same with regards to typical salary workers who are nearly always employed at will unless they are union workers (teachers, firemen, policemen, etc).
    – Socrates
    Jan 12, 2017 at 18:27

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