A bit of information: I know it's common at my workplace to renew contracts 1 day before their end (when the interested employee goes and asks for it). However, I usually think that if something is not on paper and signed, it doesn't exist. So, come 2 weeks to contract end, and no proposal for a new one, I began a search for a new job.

While I really like my current workplace and my immediate coworkers and manager, I don't really like the way the company is run as a whole. Since I received offers that translate to straight location and salary increase, I'm basically almost sure I'll leave.

My question is, if no action is taken by my employer, is it ok and not unprofessional to just show up on the last day, work as usual and at the end of it just shake hands with everyone, wish them all the best in the future and just go home?

EDIT: To answer the most common concerns in the answers/comments section:

  • Yes, I have informed my manager that no offer to extend the contract will make me search for new opportunities elsewhere
  • Yes, I have offered to train another employee, since my position is unique to the company - the request was met with refusal
  • Yes, I have taken steps to keep my work documented and set a straight path for someone to continue it
  • No, I don't personally feel I owe something to my employer besides what is written in the contract - I do something for X money for Y time producing Z results. I got my X money, I worked for Y time, I delivered Z (and much more) results. This is a business, not a family matter.


If anyone is curious of how this all went down in the end, here's a short recap:

  • With another offer in hand I approached my manager and officially told him I am not renewing my contract
  • 10 minutes later I was sitting in my boss office, of course everyone was acting surprised, the offer was ready for quite some time and such (funny this is the first time I, the most interested party, heard about it)
  • the standard questions of "what it would take for you to stay" and such were asked
  • I showed them the offers I had, and just asked if they can match that
  • Many words followed, but for me it all amounted to "no, we can't"
  • So I restated, this time in front of everyone concerned, that I will not be renewing my contract (with no mention of why, I don't think saying your goodbyes is a good time to rub some salt), I thanked them for our time together, scheduled the remaining days of my contract to close any and all issues there might be, and I'm planning to go with the "bring a cake or some sweets, shake hands, wish everybody the best and start elsewhere" plan on the last day of my work
  • 51
    I wouls just check with your manager to make sure they know you don't intend to renew, but otherwise that's what fixed term contracts are for.
    – Kaz
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:20
  • 30
    Just remember that as a contractor, your next job could depend on someone recommending you to a colleague. The manager you like here may move on, and in her new role she may want a contractor that she trusts. So my advice would be: Always leave on good terms; never burn any bridges; make sure they know how to contact you; and always discuss your exit strategy with managers when it's appropriate to do so.
    – Simba
    Jul 24, 2017 at 16:17
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Jul 29, 2017 at 11:56
  • 7
    I really appreciate you telling us the ending of the story. I know I am not alone in this desire. Thank you.
    – msouth
    Jun 26, 2019 at 15:54
  • 1
    This doesn't have a country tag, but here in the UK, employers are subject to legal obligations to provide job-hunting support to employees whose fixed-term contracts are about to end, and complying with those obligations would involve a "talk" taking place considerably longer than 2 weeks before the end of the contract. Jan 12, 2021 at 17:42

9 Answers 9


Since you are under contract, you should review your contract to make sure there are no clauses related its expiration that might require certain actions from you. (I am not a lawyer, so if you have questions about it, you should contact someone qualified to interpret contracts.)

If there is nothing in your contract obligating you to provide some kind of notice, you are perfectly within your rights to do as you suggest and simply finish your last day of work and be done.

If, at the end of your last day, you say good-bye to all of your friends and this is the first they hear that you are leaving, it might surprise them and create an awkward situation for you and for them. You might consider giving your manager a notice that you intend to finish your contract and leave. You don't have to provide any explanation beyond the fact that the last day stated in your contract will be your last day with the company.

  • 11
    Both me and company, but from what is written, it seems this only apply if either me or the employer would like to terminate the contract early.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:35
  • 7
    It sounds like you're good, then. Good luck to you!
    – Kent A.
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:37
  • 4
    @Rocky from the sounds of it, company wouldn't be able to let OP go early, since that would break contract (no 30 day notice)
    – Delioth
    Jul 24, 2017 at 17:24
  • 19
    @am21 I raised the issue with my immiedate manager - telling him that I have not recevied an offer so far, and while I feel some sort of responsibility, I also feel it is not unreasonable for me to look for a new job if the company expresses no intention of renewing it. I also believe (based on my experience with the manager) that he would immiedately bring it up with the highest management - and he stated that he understands and agrees with my point of view. So I feel I have given a sufficent warning.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:34
  • 17
    @am21 If an employer isn't aware of when people's contracts finish, they deserve pity not loyalty. Coupled with "it's common at my workplace to renew contracts 1 day before their end" then OP should has no need to do more than they already have.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 25, 2017 at 7:34

if no action is taken by my employer, is it ok and not acting unprofessional to just show up on the last day, work as usual and at the end of it just shake hands with everyone, wish them all the best in the future and just go home?

Yes, that is perfectly okay.

If you have no desire to extend your contract, there's no need to discuss it (unless the employer brings it up first).

  • 10
    +1 on top of that, as OP really likes [...] workplace and immediate coworkers and manager is it worth adding "and send a 'good-bye-folks-all-the-best' email to (former) colleagues ?
    – OldPadawan
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:13
  • 10
    It's also a good idea to ask a select few of your soon to be former coworkers if they will be willing to be your reference for future jobs.
    – DLS3141
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:23
  • 11
    @DLS3141 I already secured approval from my manager and most senior developer on the team to use them as references if the need arises.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:37
  • Round here it would be appropriate to bring a big bag of doughnuts too.
    – RedSonja
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:19
  • As a note... there may be no obligation, but if you care about your future image from that manager you should at least have a conversation with them. Jul 25, 2017 at 14:54

No, no, no, get rid of the anxiety right away.

Throw a party

For you, the important part is not the "leaving", but that you have found a better company. This means you are lucky and should handle this as a joyous event.

Throw a little farewell party, the size and means of which depend wholely on the culture in your place. For example, at my current company, I would bring a few prezels and some non-alcoholic drinks. Or donuts for everyone, etc.

Make it a happy little event at the end of your previous-to-last workday or so, and just reminiscence about the good times you had together.

Obviously you have to invite your ex-colleagues a few days up front, and this is a perfect way to communicate your decision.

Dear colleagues,

my contract is ending in a week, and I hereby invite you to my farewell party at Thursday 6pm. Food and drinks are served, just bring yourself!

RSVP & Yours,

  • 6
    This is a quite enjoyable answer, and while my workplace is male-dominated, and given the Eastern European culture, non alcoholic drinks may be frowoned upon, I was thinking about bringing some cake and sweets and make that day light-mooded, not all "well I'm leaving today, bye".
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 19:49
  • 1
    I would be happy for the downvoter to comment. This answer was not meant as a joke, but 100% in earnest. This is the usual thing that happens around here, when people leave on good terms (which the OP does, at least on the human level - he is just not happy with the company management as a whole).
    – AnoE
    Jul 25, 2017 at 19:54

As has been said I would careful to ensure that there are no clauses with regards to the end of the contract.

The other thing is you have said you like the people you work with I would be up front about the intention to leave, especially if there are going to be issues with someone else picking up your work. This is up to you and dependent on if you are sure there would be no negative consequences (since you seem to get on with your manager that seems like it is the case here, there may also be laws protecting you).

  • While I know there are going to be issues with someone picking up my work (my position is unique and the work I do only I am trained to do it, which, excuse me being braggy for a minute, would indicate that since I am able to find a new position within days, the company should be the more interested side in this situation, not me, and there is no replacement scheduled - I would know since I would have to train him), I do feel that I am obligated to document my work so far, tie all the loose ends, say my goodbyes and leave, nothing else.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 12:54
  • 2
    In that case feel free to simply say your goodbyes on your last day. It is indeed the company's fault they will soon be in a pickle. I don't see the action as helping or hindering you much professionally. Best of luck in the new role.
    – Christy
    Jul 24, 2017 at 14:50
  • 3
    Yes, its technically the company's fault they will not have a smooth transition, but remember in the real world, the people who are going to get screwed are your manager and coworkers. If you are ok leaving them with problems and possibly some resentment toward you, go ahead. From a professionalism standpoint I'd probably make an attempt to let my team know what was going on and try to transition some of my knowledge, but its possible no one is interested in picking it up...if that's the case, you at least tried.
    – bluegreen
    Jul 24, 2017 at 15:40
  • 1
    @Yuropoor - ok, then. As I said, you tried, now its on them.
    – bluegreen
    Jul 24, 2017 at 15:44
  • 1
    @bluegreen "and possibly some resentment toward you" If I was a co-worker/manager left behind in such a situation, my resentment would be directed at the company for regularly leaving renewal offers to the last day, and not planning ahead. To the person leaving, my feelings would be "good on you, make the most of it elsewhere".
    – TripeHound
    Jul 25, 2017 at 7:38

You are playing the game according to their rules. I consider it an awfully rude powerplay of them to leave their workers hanging until the last day: if they then decide not to extend the contract, you are screwed and have to scramble in order to find another job while your costs run on.

I think you are doing your colleagues a favor if the company learns the hard way that playing God has its price. The cost for you may end up them bearing you ill will afterwards, and with such policies in place, I would not expect them to be overly reasonable about it.

Is it "acceptable"? Whether it is acceptable to them can only be answered by them, and I suspect that the answer would be "no". From an outside perspective, I find your unwillingness to wait until the last day in order to be sure you get a renewal perfectly reasonable but you might not get a chance to explain.

When you do get a chance, saying "I did not want to wait until the last day to get an extension offer" is not really something you need to hide from a new employer.

One thing that is not clear to me: you state "I know it's common at my workplace to renew contracts 1 day before their end (when the interested employee goes and asks for it)". What happens when the interested employee goes and asks for it timely rather than at his next to last day? Are they told off? Why would it otherwise be common to do things this way?

  • 2
    As for the not-clear part - if your contract would end in one month, and you went and asked "My contract ends in one month, are we looking to extend it?" you would get a "yes yes of course" answer, but not PAPER trail until the last few days. While some people may be happy with that, I am not.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 19:30

Warn them

You have not given any reason why you wish to avoid telling them ahead of time. As such, it is much more professional and polite to make sure they know about your upcoming absence. All the usual reasons for giving notice apply:

  • Allows them to start looking for a replacement.
  • Allows them to shift your tasks to prepare for your absence.
  • Lets coworkers know you won't be around later if they need something for you.
  • Gives them a chance to say goodbye. (Some of your colleagues might not be there on the day you leave, or they might leave earlier than you, etc.)

You know that in your company culture, it's common for a contract to be renewed at the last minute. So it would not surprise you if your management expects a renewal. While they might not expect one, it's much better to make it clear that you won't be renewing so that you can be sure no one is surprised. If you know this is a possibility, it's very impolite and unprofessional to intentionally avoid addressing it and risk causing someone problems. This risk is unnecessary without a good reason. Telling them is just a nice (and therefore the right) thing to do, whether or not you technically have to. If you're concerned about being professional, then you'll want to be remembered as the guy who did the nice thing and prepared everyone rather than the guy who just up and walked out one day with no warning.

Also, you mentioned in comments that you've already tried to prepare things for your departure. That's great, but you're making a huge assumption that they don't have specific things they want you to do that you haven't thought of.

If you are on good terms with everyone, it may also be hurtful. A few of your coworkers might want to have lunch with you to say farewell, and not letting them know would deprive them of the chance.

I think really, you already knew all this intuitively, or you wouldn't have felt the need to ask.

  • 1
    With my upvote, comes a statement: as expressed in the comments to all the great answers here, I have given prior warning to my manager that while I know it's a common practice, it is not the stability I expect from my employer. This is my 2nd contract with this company and I raised the same points when my renewal was closing in the first time - while the first time I was prepared to take their word for it, the second time I am not. I do intend to thank all workers for a pleaseant experience, and the most concerned to thank and explain the why and what's about it.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 19:39
  • @Yuropoor What are you talking about? You seem to think that I am suggesting they be given the opportunity to try to convince you to stay or something. But that has nothing to do with giving notice.
    – jpmc26
    Jul 24, 2017 at 19:51
  • Notice is expected when you leave early - but this is not the case, I'm leaing the day my contract ends. I have no reason to believe they would extend my contract - I could come in one day before and say "so, about that renewal..." and get a stern "no" as an answer. I do feel like it's in their interest, not mine, to convince me to stay - I agreed to work for X money for Y time. After Y time, my contract is fulfilled, I'm leaving, and this is not secret knowledge.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 24, 2017 at 20:01
  • @Yuropoor Except you yourself stated that renewal on the final day is normal in your environment. As my answer explains, that factor is what means that there may be out of the ordinary expectations you need to deal with. They can try to convince you to stay all they want; you don't have to listen. Giving them notice ensures they have some opportunity to prepare for your absence. Ensuring they have such an opportunity is the professional and polite thing to do. Since you don't expect to be actually mistreated (you like your colleagues), there is no upside to hiding your departure.
    – jpmc26
    Jul 24, 2017 at 21:33

Beyond all the other good information posted here, the company you are working for may be ignoring the idea that you might not want to stay. "Of course we don't need you to train a replacement, you'll stay here For-Ev-er!(reverb)"

Be prepared for them to now ask you what it would take for you to stay, or even want you to scramble and train a replacement. Once reality smacks them in the face, they could panic.

If they make an offer, be realistic with yourself as to what it would take for you to stay. If they can't match or better it, I'd suggest keep on your current course. It seems like you understand that how a company runs can be just as important, if not more important, as how much they pay.

Training a replacement is rarely fun. I've done it and sometimes I had to do it in 1/10th the time it should have taken, leaving me feel as if I did a bad job training. Even when there's "plenty of notice", you'll still sometimes get the last minute notice to train someone, as if it's an afterthought.

Or, they think they only needed your position for the (brief) period of your contract. If this is true, be prepared for future calls after you finish your contract, when they ask you how you did your job. It's up to you as to whether you help them out or not. If you do, make sure they pay you for your time rather than donating your time. One caveat to that is if it's co-workers rather than the company calling you for help. Then it's up to your "how nice guy am I" reflex as to whether you ask for payment. To maintain friendliness, I'd say be a little nice, but not too nice. Also be aware that the company could be forcing your co-workers to call you with the idea that they may get free work from you this way.

I've seen several sides of the "call for help." One guy I know took a few calls for pay and got the company straightened out so they don't bother him anymore. Another guy gets occasional calls for paid assistance even years after his employment ended. Yet another guy I know is called constantly for free help he doesn't know how to stop.

In the end, it's all about you. Being friendly as you head out the door and keeping a good reference is also about you and your future employment. It sounds like you've already gone "above and beyond" for your position and the notice you're going to give tomorrow reinforces that, so I'd have to agree that you're doing the right thing.

Good luck!

  • A great analysis of how to handle former colleagues calls - I'll keep that in mind, thanks! As for the counter-offer part - I'm determined not to accept it, since I do believe even if they would outbid the offer I have now by substantial amount, I would become "that guy that will be shown the door once we find a replacement, search begins now, go go".
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 25, 2017 at 6:28
  • 3
    To the guy with the free calls: To stop it, first thing to say after picking up the phone is "Who do I send the bill to". If the answer is "I don't know" then he or she needs to say "Find out and call me again".
    – gnasher729
    Jul 25, 2017 at 7:30

My question is, if no action is taken by my employer, is it ok and not unprofessional to just show up on the last day, work as usual and at the end of it just shake hands with everyone, wish them all the best in the future and just go home?

It's okay, but you might not want to handle it like that. Because you're dealing with a fixed-term contract you have zero legal or professional obligation to treat these last few weeks as a notice period. But you may want to do so anyway. You're in one of those parts of the workplace where there are double standards at play as a result of the power imbalance between employer and employee. It is completely and utterly unreasonable to wait until the last months to talk about renewing long-term contracts, let alone the last day. Because of that, assuming that your contract will not be renewed is entirely reasonable.

But in this case, the employer has made it informally clear that they want to renew their employee's contracts on the last day, raising the expectation that said employees will take them at their word. But from the employee's point of view that's professionally and often financially irresponsible. In short, the employer is being unreasonable.

So when it comes to a situation like this, it's going to be up to you to communicate things clearly and it's vital that you take the high road here and both act and appear to act professionally. While you could just say your farewells on the final day and move on to bigger and better things, you don't want to blindside your employer like that because it could ultimately reflect badly on you, even if they're simply reaping what they've sown.

In your communication with your employer leading up to this you should have made it exceptionally clear that a last-minute renewal is not an option for you. Some variation of the following would have worked:

If you're unable to renew my contract by the Xth, I'll have to assume that it won't be renewed and start job searching. If you decide that you do want to renew my contract after that it's likely that I won't be able to take you up on that.

Based on your description you did all this without getting a real reaction from your management. That's on them. You gave them all the information they needed and they decided not to take any further action. That's where your responsibility ends.

But when it comes to handling your departure, you'll still want to treat those final weeks as a notice period. If possible and acceptable I would send out an early resignation mail, perhaps a week before your final day, to explain when your final day will be and give your colleagues a chance to say goodbye or to ask any final questions before you leave. Doing that will also have the advantage of clearly signalling that you don't intend to renew your contract. Your management should have realised that by now but based on their responses so far I wouldn't be surprised if they react surprised.

Before you send such a mail you should probably first mail your direct manager(s) and HR to confirm your final day and ask about the exit procedure. Some companies are weird about employees announcing that they're leaving and you'd be expected to contact them first then talk about communication with the rest of the office. But in your case the former mail might be enough, you're best placed to judge that.

To summarise, while it would be fine to just leave on your final day, you should treat this a bit more professionally. Your management might not deserve that consideration but doing otherwise has some risks for your reputation and could be considered strange by your coworkers.


So this company insists on renewing your contract on the last day. Or not, obviously. So from your point of view, if you rely on this then you may be out of a job with no notice. Obviously that's something you need to avoid. Your manager may be wanting you to stay, may even need you to stay, and then someone higher up decides there is no money. Any damage to the company is self inflicted from their side. Nothing to feel bad about

It would be nice of you if you told your manager say 14 days ahead that your contract is ending and you are leaving - if you have a new job. If you are still looking, obviously you don't tell them anything until you have signed for the new job. It sucks for your colleagues and manager, but that's not your fault.

  • I've indicated that issue to my manager (without mentioning I'm looking for a new job to anyone, for obvious reasons) - I went along the lines "hey my contract is about to expire in 4/3/2 weeks - are we looking to continue our bussiness relations?". Now, that I signed letter of intent and have the offer (and job) in hand, I am going to be straightforward.
    – Yuropoor
    Jul 25, 2017 at 6:12

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