I've been offered a position at a new company. I'm excited about it, I've negotiated a start date a month from now so that I can wrap things up at my current job. However, I have a problem that I wasn't expecting:

  • My direct manager is taking a month long vacation (technically, it's three, but they are back-to-back-to-back) and will be gone from February 1st through the 28th)
  • His boss works in a remote office and only travels to our location a few times a year. He last visited us in mid-January. He won't be back until at least April. On top of that, he also has a vaction planned for the first half of February (expected to return around the 18-19th).
  • My Vice President doesn't know who I am. The cons of working in a large multinational, I suppose. Providing my resignation directly to him seems inappropriate.

I can (and probably will) give my resignation directly to Human Resources. However, by doing so, and not talking to my management chain directly, I feel this is going to look like I'm leaving because I'm upset/disgruntled/etc. That's not true and this is simply unfortunate timing for me.

How can I relay that I would have talked to them if they were around, but due to scheduling issues (vacations) they were not so I had to talk directly to HR without letting them know I was leaving?


3 Answers 3


You're fine.

Send the resignation to the Vice President (VP), copy HR, copy your boss, copy your boss's boss. Add a note to HR and the VP explaining that you're sending it to him because your direct boss is on vacation and his boss is remote and also unavailable right now. Also add the note that summarizes your last paragraph, that you would have talked with them had they been available.

The military call this the "chain of command". The VP gets to handle it because he is the first one in the chain of command going up from you who is actually available.

This may have repercussions for your boss and for your boss's boss. Part of a manager's job, when he goes on vacation, or on leave, or into the hospital, is to designate someone who will act in his place. This is so things don't HAVE to go to the VP level that should be handled farther down.

  • 11
    Good answer. I'd recommend to add a sentence to the resignation like "I would have very much preferred to do this on a face to face meeting but unfortunately current travel and vacation schedules made this impossible".
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 7:53
  • I would hold off on sending a note to the VP if your boss or your boss's boss will be checking email while on vacation.
    – Eric
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 12:58
  • Well, the boss might have left Martin in charge to handle things, and Martin did unexpectedly get an excellent offer.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 13:42
  • @Hilmar, very good point. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 5:59
  • @Eric, you can't assume that the boss or the boss's boss will be checking email. They might. Or they might be smart enough to have turned everything off. Or they might be doing a covert emergency preparedness test, to see if the workplace can function in their complete absence. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 6:00

Vacations are no longer black holes. Email your boss out of respect first, indicating that you will notify HR but such and such a time if you don't hear back, with a note understanding that it's only because he's on vacation and may not be available. Then notify everyone with a cc: in a email to HR.

Your company will have specific notification policies, but almost certainly have slipped into a gray zone given this 3 month hiatus. A respectful notification to your boss will keep that personal bridge, and notifying HR will satisfy the company's expectations.

  • 7
    I'm going to be blunt here. Vacations are MEANT to be black holes. When someone goes on vacation, the entire object of the exercise is to get ALL THE WAY AWAY from the workplace. It is, among other things, a test to see whether the business can survive is that employee becomes suddenly 100% unavailable, for WHATEVER reason. Consider emergency hospitalization, for example. Consider a zero-notice resignation. Consider a fatal auto accident. My employer has seen ALL THREE (3) of these scenarios in the last ten years. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 5:58
  • @JohnR.Strohm that's why email is perfect here. Because the vacationing employee controls whether or not he would like to be disturbed. There are of course many people who would like to know that they're losing a valuable employee, particularly if there's something they can do about it, even though they may be on an extended leave from work.
    – jimm101
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 11:01
  • ... There also isn't a survival test here. It's the appropriate thing for the OP to do to maintain a good relationship with a former boss. The survival text is a red herring.
    – jimm101
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 12:24

Legally, giving the notice to HR is fine. (Make sure you get in writing that they received the notice in case they want to play games). Actually, sending a letter to the company's address would be fine. If the company receives the notice, and cannot manage to handle it internally, that's their problem legally.

Your boss or bosses should understand that you won't delay giving notice because they are unavailable. In your case, instead of starting a new job in two weeks time, it would be in six weeks time. Your bosses boss probably doesn't care. If it is important to you to leave the right impression, you might hand in your notice to HR with a letter to your boss, offering him to come and talk about your reasons when he's back from his holiday. Even though by the time you are already working at the new company for two weeks. Or just talk to HR while you're there and tell them what reasons you want your boss to know, hoping that they pass it on.

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