How to effectively quit my job without burning bridges or feeling guilty?
JONASD - May 27 2015 at 20:11
I entered my first job nearly a year ago in a small company; unfortunately, after 4 months there I realized I don't like it at all. 2 months after I began working there, the owner of the company told me to sign up for a postgraduate diploma, without telling me any conditions or giving me a choice (the company was paying for it). Midway through the 1-year course, the owner told me that I had to stay for at least 2 years after finishing it or I would have to pay it back (but I've never signed anything).
During spring break I started wandering about in the Internet and I found an amazing Master's degree in Europe that revolves exactly around my professional goals and interests; and I applied just for the sake of it. Turns out I was accepted and my father will be helping me out with tuition fees and living expenses, but he'll only be able to do it now and not later, so I have to go now.
The problem is, I have to quit within one month and a half from today, and I will not have finished the postgraduate diploma they signed me up for by the time I have to be in Europe for my Master's degree.
Not only is it my dream to go study my master's degree, but my job doesn't have anything to do with my professional goals or interests and it's leading me towards growing in a field I've never been interested in so I've made up my mind. How can I tell my boss and the owner of the company? What if they ask me to pay them the diploma back?
First of all, thank you for your reply. As weird as it may seem, I'm 100% certain that there were no agreed upon conditions before I started the training. And, even if it's hard for you to believe it, I'm also 100% certain that there is absolutely NO paper trail whatsoever as I haven't signed absolutely anything with the company; not even a contract. I will start writing that resignation letter, but I'm still not sure on how to let them know about my decision without burning bridges.
If there was no contract regarding this training being either mandatory and reimbursable by you then there is no contract to break nor adhere to if you were to resign and/or refuse to pay for training that was basically foisted upon you based on a unilateral decision devoid of any prior discussion. Let THEM try to take you to court (at their own expense). I doubt they would, it wouldn't be economically productive. Alternatively, seek the advice of an employment/industry tribunal as a precursor and preventative.
Usually, the verbal contract (what you were formally and in no uncertain terms told) can suffice in the absence of a paper one, or even supersede it. But if they take the position of Plaintiff (prosecutor) then the onus is on them to prove you guilty, not for you, the Defendant, to prove yourself innocent. (Tribunal representatives tend to do all the work and talking for you, anyway, meaning it wouldn't be you but your counsel against the company/management concerned.) So that would mean simply their word against yours, provable only if they had ample testimony from enough numbers of other present and past employees (witnesses) to show the court that their advising staff verbally about this particular matter were an habitual protocol (this then presenting the question, why fail to exert that protocol in just your one case?). But imagine the disruption and cost to business pulling so many staff out of the office for such a protracted period would pose! So I seriously doubt they'd pursue any legal action.
I *did* have a written contract once but, due to bad/unethical behaviour and general negative climate, resigned on the spot after I could no longer tolerate it. When the director pointed out that I was under contract to serve my notice, I retorted, 'So sue me!'. Did he? Nope. Not worth it either financially or hassle-wise. In fact, had he sued, I'd have counter-sued (for Constructive Dismissal)...and I think he realised that, hence...
I think your best bet is to find out for certain where you stand legally now and in the future as well as to ask yourself if this bridge is REALLY one you wish to keep intact (if that's the underhanded way they go about their business)?
Thank you very much for your reply. I'm preparing my resignation letter, which I will be delivering as my three-weeks notice next week. As far as the possibility of a verbal contract, I'm pretty certain there shouldn't be any problems... All the owner said was: "Oh, I will be giving you a contract for you to sign in order to accept that if you leave before completing 2 years here you will pay it back". I said "Ok, I'll take a look at that". I don't think that constitutes my acceptance of her terms.
Either way, you're right. I'll try to keep this bridge intact, but if they react poorly or unprofessional I will not care if the bridge is burned.
""Oh, I will be giving you a contract for you to sign in order to accept that if you leave before completing 2 years here you will pay it back". I said "Ok, I'll take a look at that". I don't think that constitutes my acceptance of her terms."
No, it does not, you're correct... because you can't agree with terms you don't know about and WITHOUT knowing those details you cannot consent, verbally or otherwise, to the contract that contains, stipulates, IS ITSELF COMPRISED of them. Looks like the owner's going to have to fire herself for gross managerial negligence, then, doesn't it [smirk].
"I'll try to keep this bridge intact, but if they react poorly or unprofessional I will not care if the bridge is burned."
Exactly! Win/Win situation.
(On behalf of myself and Susiedqqq, you're welcome. :-))