I'm an expat engineer working in a small service/data software company in Asia.

I am planning to quit the company sometime soon. We only have a verbal employment contract despite multiple requests for a written one- it's been a bit over 1 year now, and I stopped asking them about 3 months ago.

Because of this, a lot of the internal practices are happening that are ignoring or avoiding local labor law- unpaid overtime, underpaid holiday work, underpaid locals, most of the staff carrying out personal favors for the CEO. We also have a high turnover rate due to the unpleasant environment. I found all of this out quite recently, as an english version of the local laws wasn't easy to find. This would entitle a lot of the employees that were let go or quit with very significant benefits, and the company itself would be in legal trouble for various reasons besides these mentioned. None of the employees either know about the labor laws, or they don't think it's enforceable.

I think I am the key engineer in the company (our CTO halted feature development during my holiday leave) and I'll be giving a 2 week notice instead of 6 months, so I am 99% expecting a backlash for "not going through with their startup" and possibly other reasons.

How can I negotiate to ensure the company fulfills the lawful obligations at least during handling my resignation? (missed overtime pays, public holiday pays, unused leave)

  • I'm not sure about asia, can you get a representative of the law behind you first to be sure? If everyone believes it's not enforceable, not sure it matters...?
    – mutt
    Mar 31, 2017 at 4:34
  • @mutt thanks for the response. It's somewhat of a difficult situation- I believe the staff is just not able to afford the argument. They are paid in the range of $150 to $400 per month for non-management (call staff, field operations), so they won't risk being told to pack their stuff the next day. While I am also underpaid, I have things lined up and can afford to push for a better package, at least for myself. I will have a lawyer available if things go there, but I need to think about the correct approach first.
    – achilles
    Mar 31, 2017 at 4:44
  • Frankly without knowing specifics I think a lawyer would be the best person to ask. It's likely personal biases of the people running the company and legal specifics of the country the company is liable to. I'm not sure anyone on here can really advise very well with the circumstances mentioned. Good luck, and if you can provide specific info for more advise, please edit the question to include.
    – mutt
    Mar 31, 2017 at 4:46
  • The usual response to a request for legal advice seems to apply; consult a lawyer locally in the country you are in. Mar 31, 2017 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Since you already know this company doesn't care about treating people well and doesn't care bout the law either, your only real option would be to go into this negotation as hard as you can.

Write down all the stuff you want in order to call it a "succesful exit". Then talk to a lawyer, ask them what your chances are if you take this company to court over not giving you the stuff you want. If the lawyer says you don't stand a chance, accept it, turn in your notice, and just get out of there. Call it a learning experience.

If he says you do stand a good chance of getting what you want in court, sit down with your boss, present your terms for quitting, explain you are legally obligated to get them and demand they honor that. If they refuse, tell them to talked to a lawyer and you will take them to court over it.

If they still refuse, you'll have to go back to the lawyer and either sue the company or still accept that you won't get it and call it a learning experience.

And whatever happens, never work without a written contract again and get out of questionable companies asap next time. They aren't worth the hassle.

  • +1 For the lawyer stuff and last sentence , but I think the OP should know he should ask the lawyer what he legaly deserves , and what's the closest thing he can get (to what he asks for ).
    – Rolexel
    Mar 31, 2017 at 8:51
  • Thanks for the detailed answer- This is what I was considering doing first as well, so it's good to know I'm on the right track.
    – achilles
    Mar 31, 2017 at 23:58

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