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If You Love Them, Let Them Go!

, , , , | Working | October 23, 2020

I work for a company with less than 100 employees and part of my job is training newcomers. A worker that I trained a few months ago calls me on my own phone, outside business hours, on a Thursday afternoon.

Worker: “Hi. I’d really need your advice on something. How many days of notice am I supposed to give if I quit?”

Me: “It depends on your level, and how long you’ve been employed, but I don’t think it’s more than a week in your case.”

Worker: “Oh, h***. I don’t have a week. I had an interview that went well and they want me at the new place on Monday.”

I’m happy for him, as I know he was previously employed in a much more advanced and challenging field than ours, but I’m also worried about the situation he’s got himself into.

Me: “In the worst case, you’d have to pay a fine.”

Worker: “Yeah, my new company said they would take care of any expenses from quitting without notice, but I called the boss to tell her I was leaving and she started yelling at me that I was being unprofessional and I was letting down my teammates and she’d make me pay for it.”

Me: “Uh-oh. Are you hired temporarily?”

Worker: “Yeah.”

This is bad news. Temp workers cannot give notice, as they’re supposed to work specifically on fixed-term “projects” and might even be sued for damage if they quit beforehand. As our company is currently engaged in such a “project,” they might make things difficult for him.

Me: “Okay, I’ll look into it and let you know tomorrow.”

The following day, I checked his contract. He had been hired through a temping agency, at the lowest level, basically floor sweeper, even though he was doing qualified work since day one! So much for “being unprofessional.” The boss had no grounds for her threats since he had never been “our” employee. It was also hard for the company to explain how the absence of an easily-replaced low-level worker was damaging the project in any significant way.

To cut a long story short, the temping agency fined him a measly 5€ for every day left on his contract, which his new company paid without question. Last I heard of him, when he came to return his unused PPEs, he had been in the new workplace for a week and was happy as a clam.

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