can I leave before my notice period is up if my boss is being a jerk? — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

What’s the etiquette, if that’s the right word, for leaving a job before the end of your notice period?

I resigned due to a toxic micromanager boss who also leans toward abusive. She has been out on medical leave for the last three weeks, but is back today. I’m halfway through my notice period and my last day is Friday.

She’s going through her emails now and so far I’ve received two from her, both of which literally say, “I’m going through my emails and see this (insert issue that arose while she was out) and I assume nothing was done? Please advise as to why not.”

Actually, both tasks that she mentioned were handled and filed appropriately, and email loops were closed (which she will see when she gets through all her emails). It’s just in her nature to always assume the worst.

I’m wondering what obligation I have to remain at my current job for my full two weeks? I understand I committed to do so … but I’m also concerned about my mental well-being. While she was out, all was fine but her being back is reminding me why I resigned.

So … if she decides to spend 20 minutes berating me for using square and not round bullet points (true story) or something similar, is it an option to just say that the current day is my last? Or does that do too much reputational harm? I’m trying not to borrow trouble, but it’s 10 am and I’ve already been accused (twice) of doing nothing while she was out.

For what it’s worth, I was honest with the CEO that my manager was my reason for leaving and did detail why. Other executives have asked me directly if I’m leaving due to micromanagement from my boss, so it’s not a secret that she’s like this. (Why they let it continue is a conversation for a different email.)

What are my options? Is staying the entire time given in my notice period my only choice?

You don’t need to stay for your full notice period if you’re being mistreated.

If the tone of your manager’s communications remains accusatory or harsh, it’s reasonable to say any of the following:

  • “I’m taken aback by the emails you’ve been sending me today. I’m happy to stay for the remainder of my notice period as long as I’m treated respectfully. But I don’t want to be accused of not doing work that you’ll see I did if you continue through your emails.”
  • “I’m happy to spend the rest of the week wrapping up projects, but I’m not willing to be berated for (examples). If that continues, I’d prefer we make today my last day.”
  • “I don’t appreciate being spoken to like this when I’m working hard to leave my area in good shape before I go. Given that, I’m going to make today my last day. If there’s anything you’d like me to handle before I leave today, please let me know.”

If her treatment of you were particularly outrageous, you could just leave on the spot: “I don’t think it makes sense for me to remain for the rest of the week. I’ll let (other person) know.” That other person could be HR, your manager’s boss, the CEO you’ve already been talked with, or whoever else makes sense.

Speaking of the CEO, since you’ve already told her that your boss is the reason you’re leaving (and I’m gathering she wasn’t terribly surprised?), another option is to go back to her now and say that your boss’s treatment has you questioning your willingness to work the remainder of your notice period. Who knows, she might encourage you to leave now and/or say she’ll handle it with your boss.

The other option, of course, is to just stay and internally roll your eyes, knowing that what you’re seeing from your boss is exactly the reason you’re leaving and feeling vindicated that you’re escaping. Hell, since you’re leaving, you could simply ignore her ruder emails and figure she’ll realize when she gets through all her messages that she was wrong and thus your response is not required. This option could save you some hassle and drama, so you might choose it for that reason. And sometimes knowing you could leave if you wanted to makes it easier to just roll your eyes and deal with it for a few more days.

But you’re absolutely allowed to set boundaries on what you will and won’t tolerate, and you’re not required to stay if your manager isn’t holding up her end of the bargain and treating you with basic respect.

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