2007 JET Podcast
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

When To Quit

I've been pondering this since before I even got an interview with JET. How do I break the news of leaving to my employer?

The situation is sticky and will require the utmost care.

To illustrate, I will provide an example.

I COULD just tell them I quit at around July 21st. This is seven days before I am scheduled to leave for Japan. I know many people that would do such a thing and not think twice about it. You don't really owe them anything (technically).

My situation is different than this for two reasons:

1. I actually like my co-workers.

2. I am under contract.

The first point relates to my problem in that if I were to up and leave suddenly, I know that my co-workers (who are overworked and under appreciated as it is) will have to shoulder the burden. This may be okay for a few days, but knowing my station, they will not hire another person for my position for 2 years. Don't believe me?

Well, our department has been without a manager for 6 months. No one appeared to be particularly alarmed at this.

I don't want to leave my friends in the lurch.

The second question is a matter of legality. I will be getting out of my contract 4 months early. Theoretically, it's not slave labor. Even with a contract, they really have no hold on whether I can quit or not. I remember a clause in my contract that stated if I terminated early, I would be responsible for the cost of finding my replacement. What is unclear is what these costs actually entail.

Will I have to pay the equivalent of salary for someone? Will I have to pay for the flight and hotel of the candidates they bring in? I think it will be nearly impossible for them to quantify these costs for a court of law. Theoretically, they could add on anything they wished and I could argue that in court should it come down to it.

My contract actually protects me more than them, because it means they must have justification for firing me. They must provide substantial proof that I am unfit for the job.

My opinion is that if I announce in the middle/end of April that I will be having my last day on July 20th, that is ample time for them to bring in someone else and have me train them. That would not constitute leaving them in the lurch.

I have talked to someone who knew someone who jumped out of their contract before it was up. They made her pay back the relocation costs and that's about it. My station didn't pay me any premium for taking my job. No bonus, no relocation. They hired me from my previous part-time job at the station.

My mom is of the mindset that by telling them I am quitting before my contract is up, they will have justification to fire me and I will be out of work for 2 1/2 months. I don't think I agree, but I have been thinking about that possibility.

Another issue is what do I tell the station manager? There are, for instance, certain things that I am unhappy with about the job.

Without having a boss, my job description has changed from being an actively creative one to one where I can't make even a single creative decision without prior approval from a department that has nothing to do with my department. Writing a :30 tease has changed from taking about 20 to 30 minutes to taking nearly 2 hours of my day. I am often pushing it to the last 2 minutes of my deadline to get stuff finished. We don't always make the deadline because of this.

It is literally NOT the job I signed up for and I have brought this up to them on several occasions. No one seems to care.

The stress of this job gets to me in a bad way occasionally and I really do believe is an indirect cause of my IBS and subsequent weight loss.

A friend at work has suggested that I come to them in a positive way, telling them about this amazing opportunity and how hard I worked to get it. I, frankly, don't think they would give a crap about that. They're not in the business of life enrichment. Plus, I'm not asking them to quit, I'm telling them I'm quitting. I think the softer approach won't work.

So, timing, approach -- my latest concerns.

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