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To quit, or ask to be laid off instead?

If you must go, at least try to come out ahead.

To quit, or ask to be laid off instead?

quit

By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer

Quitting a job. It’s been romanticized in songs like “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck. The Ramones wailed about “The Job That Ate My Brain.” In real life, resigning can disqualify you from Employment Insurance or severance pay. And then there’s explaining it to potential employers when they ask why you left.
 
In any case you’ll know when it’s really time to go. Should you feel there’s no option but to leave despite not having a new job lined up, try to arrange the most favourable exit. See if you can get a positive reference, an agreement to label your departure a downsizing, or even a beefed up severance package.
 
Sound like too much to ask? It all depends on your employer’s policies, and your own negotiating skills. Also your stomach for risk.
 
Avoid Resigning Hastily
The best way to leave is with your reputation – and all your bridges – intact. How you resign will influence your career in the future. It will also hit your pocketbook right away.
 
Keep your cool in a heated resignation. It takes time to plan a favourable departure. Rushing out in a fit of pique may seem satisfying today. You won’t be gloating though when Employment Insurance (EI) declines your application. Or when you flee without a dime of severance. Unless you can prove extenuating circumstances (e.g. harassment, a toxic workplace), you’re probably throwing these away.
 
Inform Your Employer That You’d Like To Leave On Agreeable Terms
Once you resign, it’s extremely difficult to negotiate terms. If instead you give ample verbal notice that you’re looking to hit the road, your employer may be open to discussion.
 
When faced with the prospect of losing a valued worker, an employer may consider meeting your concerns, part way or more. A known and productive resource can be preferable to the unknown. Even if you’re dead set on parting, don’t rule out that your employer might try to address your concerns. That could give you reason enough to stay after all.  
 
But be realistic. Revealing that you want to fly the coup could get your wish fulfilled. It gives the employer an excuse to fire you for cause. You could end up with no severance, EI or solid reference anyway. Mind you, that’s what you were willing to risk as a consequence of quitting without a job to go to. Regardless you may want to seek advice from an employment lawyer.
 
Ask For A Positive Reference
 
If your boss entertains your request to discuss an arranged departure, start with something fairly simple. A written reference endorsing your work there is a good beginning.
 
The full reference from your immediate supervisor outlines your service there, the positions held, a description of your duties and some positive comment regarding your skills and abilities. The letter concludes customarily with best wishes. Hopefully it includes a recommendation that you’d be an ideal employee for others.
 
There’s no legal obligation for an employer to provide a reference. Nor are you guaranteed one that speaks well of you. Help your cause: volunteer to stick around long enough to tidy up loose ends, or train your replacement.
 
Ask To Be “Terminated Without Cause”
This request involves greater complexity. The general idea is to come up with an agreed upon statement of departure.
 
The employer must fill out a Record of Employment (ROE) after you exit. A copy is sent to Service Canada. You should receive one within five business days of your final day as well. It’s the single most important document in establishing your Employment Insurance claim.
 
If you can, try to convince the employer to enter “The Reason for Issuing this ROE” as Code A on your ROE. That’s the code for Shortage of Work, also called a Layoff. It entitles you to apply for EI. You’ll as well have a more credible exit statement. Getting coded as E (Quit), M (Dismissal for reason other than Layoff), or K (Other) spells trouble.
 
A problem you might face is if the company agrees to say you were let go, rather than reporting that you quit, they must pay you at least the minimum amount of severance allowed for by law. Will they be amenable to doing so? You won’t know unless you ask.
 
Take Into Account Your Personal Circumstances
Prior to resigning without new employment lined up, review your current situation. Is your job so intolerable that you’d risk the consequences of abandoning ship? What about financially: can you afford to leave your job?
 
Answering yes to the above, make sure to depart professionally. Be courteous if asked to attend an exit interview. Keep any grumbling to yourself. And ask for an arranged farewell. The job that ate your brain might just be your ticket to Find Better!

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