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12 Tips Before You Join The “Great Resignation”

Dec 6 2021

Americans are quitting their jobs in record numbers, prompting many to dub 2021 the start of the “Great Resignation” or the “Big Quit.”  When it’ll end, of course, is anyone’s guess.  But if you’re a Connecticut employee who’s thinking of joining the throngs who seem to be leaving their jobs, here are 12 things you might want to consider before you make the proverbial leap.

SHOULD I QUIT MY JOB?

#1. Legal claims

If you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment, retaliation, or another form of hostile work environment, or if you believe you have been treated unfairly or unlawfully, you should talk with an employment lawyer before you resign.  Do not quit your job because your employer has broken the law.  If you do, you might be giving up the leverage to get the compensation you deserve.

#2. Unemployment benefits

Most Connecticut employees who voluntarily resign their jobs will not be eligible for unemployment benefits (also known as unemployment insurance).  There are exceptions – for example, when you leave to care for a seriously ill child, parent, or spouse – and those exceptions are spelled out in the Connecticut Department of Labor’s regulations.  (There is generally no harm in applying for benefits, even if you’re ultimately found to be ineligible, so long as you are honest in your application and truthfully answer any questions from the government.)  But if you’re relying on unemployment benefits to pay your bills after you quit, you may want to think again.

#3. Looking for another job

If you’re resigning to take a break from work for a while, then Godspeed.  But if you can’t afford not to work, or even if you just prefer not to have a career interruption, you may want to land another job before you leave your current one, not after.  As the old adage goes, it’s easier to find another job when you already have one.  And apparently, that’s not just an adage; it’s reality.

WHEN SHOULD I QUIT MY JOB?

#4. Bonuses and commissions

If you’re eligible for a bonus (whether annual or performance-based), or if you’re a commissioned employee who’s waiting for a commission check, you may not want to quit until you have that money in hand.  Most employers only pay bonuses to current employees, even if you quit after the end of the fiscal year on which the bonus is based.  And many commission agreements provide that you’re only entitled to the commission if you’re still employed when the commission is generated, even if you have already completed all your work on the deal.

#5. Paid time off

Before you quit, you may want to use up any vacation, sick time, or other paid time off (PTO) that you have accrued.  Because although some employers will write you a check for your unused PTO upon your resignation, there is no federal or Connecticut law that requires them to do so.  In Connecticut, whether you are entitled to a payout for unused PTO is a matter of each employer’s policy.  So check the policy before you act.

#6. Planned leave

If you anticipate that you will want to take a family or medical leave (for example, to have a baby or care for a newborn), you may not want to resign your employment before you take that leave.  Many employers provide benefits (such as extra paid time off or short-term disability coverage) for new parents, and you may want to take advantage of those benefits.

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee must be employed for at least 12 months in order to be eligible for FMLA leave.  In Connecticut, however, as of January 1, 2022, the law is different.  Connecticut employees only have to be employed for three months in order to be eligible for 12 weeks of FMLA leave.  Still, if you expect to need a medical leave within the next three months, you may want to stay with your current employer or (assuming you’re leaving for another job) to negotiate a leave with your new employer up front.

#7. Health insurance

For many Connecticut workers, quitting your job means losing your health insurance.  (If you’re insured through another family member, this won’t apply to you.)  If you’ve lined up another job, consider asking when you can expect your benefits to start.  If there will be a gap, or if you don’t have or don’t want another job, think about how you will stay insured.  You might consider using COBRA (for which you’re eligible even if you resign), or you might want to shop in the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchange.  Whatever you want, it makes sense to plan ahead.

HOW SHOULD I QUIT MY JOB?

#8. Employer’s property

If your job involves sensitive information – especially if you’re planning to stay in that industry – you might be tempted to take some of that sensitive information for future use.  Resist that temptation.  Everything you accessed or used during your employment almost invariably belongs to your employer, not to you.  And you should never take anything that doesn’t belong to you.  That’s a surefire way not just to get yourself blacklisted, but also to find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit or – worse – an indictment.

#9. How much notice to give

Some employees have employment contracts that specifically require them to give a certain amount of notice of resignation.  This means they have to give notice and then keeping working for a set period of time if the employer wants.  (This is common among physicians and in other fields where staffing is essential and employees are difficult to replace.)  For the vast majority of employees, though, there is no legal requirement that you provide any notice of your resignation.  “Two weeks’ notice” is a Sandra Bullock movie, not a legal requirement.

That said, you may want to consider what a resignation without notice would mean for your employer.  Will it leave them in the lurch?  And even if you don’t care about your employer, what will resigning without notice mean for your coworkers, who presumably will need to pick up the slack?  So even if you aren’t obligated to give a notice period, you might want to do so anyway.

#10. Be prepared to be fired

The reality is that notice is a double-edged sword.  You may want to provide some reasonable notice, but just as you probably aren’t required to provide any, your employer also probably isn’t required to let you work through your notice period.  And if worse comes to worst, you might be escorted off of the employer’s premises as soon as you give notice.  So be prepared, including the following:

  • Many employees personalize their workspaces with their own photographs, books, a coffee mug, maybe a small heater. Do you know where all that personal property is?  You may want to make a list of everything you brought to the office in case you have to ask the employer to collect it for you.  (For security reasons, some employers would rather ship you your personal property than let you pack it up yourself.)
  • Likewise, many employees keep personal files on their workplace computers (even though many employers’ policies prohibit it). Think: digital photographs, music, maybe even your personal tax returns.  Before you give notice, move these files to a single folder on your employer’s computer system so that they can be easily retrieved.  Then, after you give notice, ask your employer for permission to take them.
  • If your employer has provided you with a work cell phone, it might be shut off as soon as your employment ends. And if that’s your only cell phone, that can be a big problem.  So if you use your work cell phone for all your personal communications, consider transferring your phone account and phone number to another phone before you give notice.

#11. Think twice before acting like a jerk

As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  So leave your employer and your colleagues with a good feeling about you.  It’s the right thing to do, and if nothing else, you might want to ask them for something someday.

#12. Final paycheck

Regardless of how big a splash you make on your way out the door, though, your employer isn’t allowed to hold your final paycheck hostage just because it doesn’t like how you resigned.  Under Connecticut law, an employee who resigns is entitled to their final paycheck in full not later than the employer’s next regular payday.  And unless you’ve given specific written permission, your employer generally cannot withhold that pay to cover any costs or debts that it says you owe.

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Great Resignation

About the Author

Joshua R. Goodbaum

A graduate of Harvard and Yale, and a Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” for employment law, Josh Goodbaum represents employees and other civil rights plaintiffs in litigation and negotiation. Learn More

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