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Leaving a job near vesting date

Q. I want to leave my toxic job. I would like to give my notice on the last day of January and then give them two weeks. In order to reach the next level of vesting and to receive a payout for the company’s gain sharing plan, I have to work the first day of the next month which is my anniversary date. My question is this: If my manager decides she wants me to leave immediately without working the additional two weeks, can I be cheated out of the rewards owed to me?

A. I would refer you to your company’s Employee Handbook for the answer to this question. It should be clearly stated in the Handbook. If there is no Handbook, you might try to stop by the human resources department and ask what the policy is. If there is no written policy, then you are at the discretion of management and they can tell you to pack up and not return the next day, resulting in your losing a level of vesting and the payout for last year.

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I do feel compelled to remind you about the economy right now, and that it may be harder than you think to find another job. Ask yourself if you have enough in emergency funds so that you can meet your bills for at least the next six months. In addition, consider the industry that you are in. For example, the real estate, financial services, and retail industries are really hurting right now and companies are slashing jobs.

I’d like to offer an alternative approach to your situation. Continue to work in your present job, but try to work on two different fronts at the same time. First, ask yourself if there are things you can do in the current job that might make your situation better. For example, you can sit down with your supervisor and tell him or her that there are things on the job that truly bother you (be prepared to discuss at least 2 or 3 of these issues). See if you can work out some solutions that will help you enjoy the job more.

Second, I would start a quiet job search. Dust off your resume and see if you can tweak it to include all your current job responsibilities and competencies. Think about 1-2 references that you can use from your current job, especially if you have been there for a number of years. Start making some networking calls and setting up some lunch dates. Attend some professional meetings and call a few headhunters in your field. As you work toward getting out of your current job, you will start to feel better. You are being proactive and working toward your goal of a new job. I will remind you not to conduct job search business on company time, only on your own time. You don’t want to give anyone at your company reason to fire you.

A few months from now, if you still want to leave and have enough savings to live on, then you can leave, ensuring that you will receive your next level of vesting and last year’s payout. With a little luck, the economy may have improved enough so that you can find work more easily. Good luck!

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