I am a software engineer at a startup. I know that, for security reasons, etc., many employers immediately fire anyone that gives two weeks notice. My employer, thus far, has not, as other people have stay through their notice periods (which are often longer than two weeks for some reason, even though we're all at-will).

I don't really want to work out my notice and would prefer to just faff about at the gym, write code for personal projects, or go hiking, biking, swimming, whatever for a few weeks. This will not be a financial issue for me. However I do not want to burn any bridges so I will give the expected notice.

My question is, how can I get my boss to just tell me to leave instead? They don't have to pay me for the two weeks (as often happens).

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    Next time, set the start date with the new employer far enough in the future that you can serve out your notice, take some time off (unpaid), then start the new job. – Dan Pichelman Jan 27 '17 at 20:52
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    Is two weeks time so much as to be worth a "been fired" on your resume? – Captain Emacs Jan 27 '17 at 20:58
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    Are you completely new to this? I'd only expect this attitude from someone less than a year in. The point is that applciation forms in the US virtually always have a "Have you ever been fired?" box. And lying on that is an automatic "fired-for-cause" if they find out. And they find out because they ask for references, who tell them you were fired when called. Or you don't provide references, in which case they come to their own conclusion. – Lilienthal Jan 27 '17 at 21:24
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    VTC current version of this question as unsuitable for a site focused on professional behaviour in the workplace. Have a look at the other questions on notice periods first. – Lilienthal Jan 27 '17 at 21:25
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    The fact that you don't think of it that way does not prevent it from being recorded that way. You don't get to unilaterally quit without notice without your employer being grumpy about it, and trying to get them to kick you out earlier means making them grumpier. Your choice, but actions have consequences. – keshlam Jan 27 '17 at 22:09

These are contradictory statements.

I don't really want to work out my notice and would prefer to just faff about at the gym, write code for personal projects, or go hiking, biking, swimming, whatever for a few weeks.

However I do not want to burn any bridges so I will give the expected notice.

Burning bridges or causing some ill will between you and your previous employer would basically be something like this; you either don't give two weeks' notice, you give the notice and you go on a vacation during that period, or you give the notice and don't really do anything during the last two weeks of your tenure.

Giving notice means that you're agreeing to work for the next X days as specified in the notice while they look to fill your upcoming vacancy. Going against that is a sure-fire way to earn ire from your former employer.

My recommendation: if you really don't want to work the time, then just be honest about it. Don't give two weeks' notice and then do nothing, since that'll be a much harder bridge to rebuild later. If I were a personnel manager, I'd rather you give me no time than faff about for two weeks.

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  • Well, some companies have a policy that they ask people to leave immediately, this is presumably for security reasons. The company that I work at doesn't, I'd like to convince my boss to establish one when (or immediately before) I quit. – devnull Jan 27 '17 at 21:44
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    It may depend on your clearance, but every job I've ever seen anyone quit or leave immediately was termination or with no notice, not for security reasons. – Makoto Jan 27 '17 at 21:46
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    I've seen both. As a contractor, it's just a part of the business that when my contract is coming up and it's not going to be renewed, I spend the last couple weeks doing knowledge transfer, documenting what I did, and so on. At the same time, I've definitely seen the "walking someone out of the building" variety of letting them go, even when they weren't fired for cause. It all depends on the situation, what the company needs from the employee, and so on. – NotVonKaiser Jan 29 '17 at 15:08

As is the case with requesting anything from an employer, you need to show your employer how it is to their benefit to give you what you are asking for. In this case that means that you need to demonstrate to your employer that getting two more weeks of work from you will benefit them less than letting you go immediately. The main benefit that the employer gets is not paying you for two weeks worth of work, but the fact that you have this job means that in general the employer views the work that you do as more valuable to the company than the money they pay you. So in order to convince them otherwise, it seems to me that you need to make it clear that the work you will be doing in your final two weeks will be of lower quality than usual, and thus is not worth the company's money.

In other words, I don't think there is a way that you can get your employer to let you go immediately without burning bridges.

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  • Oh, I would never do poor-quality work deliberately. I guess I just want them to think that keeping me is a security risk (it isn't, though, I'm not going to post our entire source on Github or send the financials to Gawker). – devnull Jan 27 '17 at 21:54

The only ethical way is just to ask. I'm not sure of any simple way of doing that where you wouldn't endanger any future positive reference - i.e., burning bridges. "Hey boss, I'm afraid I have to put in my 2 week notice. Real positive experience, thanks. Say, on an unrelated note - I would prefer to do almost anything other than being here for the next 2 weeks, so how about I just don't come in any more, and you don't have to pay me, and we still say I gave you 2 weeks notice. OK?"

The only polite, non-bridge-burning alternative is later (the next day or two later, perhaps), have a talk with your boss if you really have nothing they want you to do. If you've done all you can to be helpful for the next person, then you can politely note that if they don't have anything they want you to work on you would not be offended if they'd rather not pay you for another two weeks and just leave early instead. You could also facilitate this by asking to talk with your manager on what they need from you for the smoothest transition possible - turn over of equipment, reporting of any passwords they'll need to change, final report of any projects you were on, etc. By getting these done as early as possible (same day or next), then it could be taken better if you want to ask if they really need you for anything else - but still, I'd be careful here unless you are very socially gifted and skilled in handling such situations, as it's easier to make things weird and rude.

The truth is, I don't think any sane person alive really enjoys their last two weeks on a job, and no one really loves to work with a "short-timer" who will be gone in a few days. It's just an awkward reality, because anything else is even crappier and more rude (socially and financially). The notice period is there both for financial reasons to employees, as well as allowing a more smooth transition period for your employer and whoever will need to do your job after you are gone. It's a professional courtesy, and handling the awkward period with grace and patience will leave a good impression of you on your boss and co-workers. "Jeeze, that guy was even a good employee on his last two weeks - great fellow!"

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  • You can give any notice you like, if the employer is willing to accept it. So if the employer agrees that you are not working and not getting paid, you can just give 1 minute notice or notice to the end of the current working day, and the employer accepts it. – gnasher729 Jan 28 '17 at 21:51

So, the idea of a notice period is to allow the employer time for continuity and to allow things to be handed over.

If you want to get away quickly, make sure there are no loose ends BEFORE you resign. Make sure tasks are covered/delegated, make sure confluence etc is up to date etc. Then resign and say "I've already covered everything I need to handover, can we talk about an earlier end date?"

If they say no, a couple of days being seen doing nothing but surfing the web on their dime (as you have nothing else to do) will get the message across.

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In 15 years of work in the software industry at several different companies, I've only seen the situation you describe where someone is walked out prior to their notice period once. That situation was one where the person had such a bad attitude they were not sure he would not sabotage the project during his notice period.

I think your best, and most professional move, would be to do one of two things: 1) either work out your two weeks notice, a new employer will understand than and respect you because they would want the same consideration or, 2) as others have mentioned, two weeks is only traditional, not required, you could negotiate a shorter notice period with your current employer.

Its your responsibility to use whatever notice period you negotiate to transfer your knowledge to someone else on the team whether that is verbally, through writing documents, or some other way, and to finish up as much as possible on whatever tasks you are currently working on.

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There is a very simple way of handling this. Let's say you decide that you want to leave at the end of February. So you would normally give two weeks notice on the 14th of February. But instead you want to take the two weeks off. Easy: Just give 14 days notice on the last day of January. When the 14th of February comes when you wanted to leave without notice, you can just leave. Nobody will stop you, nobody will be thinking badly of you, no bridges will be burned and no reputation will be affected.

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