Leave of Absence or Just Leave?

Q. I gave my leave of notice this week as I will be starting a new job next week. One of the managers contacted me today to say that he will not accept my notice and said that he will accept a leave of absence as this company does not want to lose me as an employee. What are, if any, the ramifications in this situation?

A. Congratulations on two counts! You got an offer from a new employer and are ready to start a new job, and that is terrific. Secondly, your current employer thinks you are great and doesn’t want to lose you as a valued employee. That can be a great position to be in, but you don’t sound too happy about the situation.

There seems to be too little information being discussed between you and your managers. It seems that when you gave them notice of your intention to leave they were surprised, disappointed and eager to find a way to keep you. Perhaps they don’t know why you have chosen to leave, or if you are not happy with the job, the compensation, or any other factor of the work. They may be concerned that you won’t be happy in the new job and new company.

The offer of a leave of absence gives you the option of staying “on the books” of your former employer, but not on the payroll, and typically not eligible for any benefits. I typically do not see employers choosing this option, but many employees would enjoy the benefit, I believe. The leave will act as a safety net, so that if you do choose to come back to your current employer, they can limit the paperwork involved in reinstating you, and continuing all your benefits. Perhaps this has worked for them before, if employees have chosen to test out other companies or options and then wanted to return to this firm.


As long as you have given the employer your notice to terminate, you are under no obligation to stay, or return to work at this company. It should have no impact on your new role, as long as you have not signed anything relating to a leave of absence.

You haven’t said whether you really wanted to leave, but since you applied and accepted another job, we’ll assume you did. If you think there are ways to make your current job more of what you are looking for, your employer seems to be saying they wish you would have that conversation.

Most people choose not to let employers know when they are looking for new jobs. They worry about retaliation, being overlooked for promotions, or being replaced before they are ready to leave. There are times when a candid discussion about your career path, ways your role might be improved, or expanded, or any other issues you are facing might make all the difference between looking for a new job and making your current job exactly what you want it to be.

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