Leaving a job, regardless of the circumstances, is an event that has serious consequences in your life. Along with the obvious financial impact of it, there is also an emotional aspect to it.
Most employees do not choose to leave a job out of the blue. Maybe you get the feeling that your time at the company is going to come to an end one way or the other. Maybe you don’t feel like the job is worth it anymore. Is it better to leave on your own terms, or wait and see if there’s a termination notice coming your way?
For some, there isn’t a choice. However, if you find that you are facing the choice between what is essentially a rock and a hard place, it’s important to make the right choice because it could have serious implications for your professional and financial future. Both sides come with their own pros and cons, so you should carefully consider your situation to make the best choice. Here are the major benefits and drawbacks of quitting a job before you can get fired:
Plus: Avoiding a Sudden Job Loss
One of the biggest advantages of quitting a job before the employer has a chance to fire you is that you are leaving on your own terms, at the time that you have chosen. This way, you can avoid the shock of suddenly being stripped of a job and income. Regardless of whether the firing was anticipated or not, being laid off leaves a serious emotional scar.
At the same time, you can start to prepare for it by gathering your contacts, prepping for interviews, and meeting with other potential employers before you even leave the job. Taking control of the situation will help you exit smoothly and with your dignity in place. Plus, if you’re unhappy at your job, it will give you some much-needed peace of mind. Having a date to look forward to instead of waiting for the inevitable is certainly going to put you in a better mood!
Minus: Harder to Get Unemployment Benefits/Severance
Quitting a job before you give your employer a chance to fire you may help you take control of the situation, but that also means that it is much harder for you to apply for unemployment benefits as leaving your job is seen as a choice. Similarly, most employers tend to send employees off with severance pay when they lay them off, which doesn’t apply to employees leaving of their own volition.
As for unemployment benefits, you may still be eligible for them even if you quit your job, but you will have to work harder for them. You will have to prove that the reason for leaving the job was for a “good cause”, which could vary depending on your state. Some of the personal reasons that could count as good causes include those such as escaping domestic violence or needing to take care of a sick family member. This could also apply if you leave a job due to “grossly unsafe conditions” such as unsafe working conditions, unreasonable demands, or failure to pay you on time.
Severance pay isn’t a given either unless it has been stipulated in your employee contract. In fact, according to a 2019 survey consisting of more than 1500 HR professionals in the US and abroad, only 44% of employees said they received severance pay after an involuntary separation; and how much they were paid depending on the employee’s tenure and salary. In certain industries, severance pay isn’t common practice at all, so there’s no point in waiting around to get fired.
Nevertheless, you should carefully consider whether it is worth leaving a steady income. Even with severance pay and unemployment benefits, it might still not be enough to maintain your lifestyle. At the same time, you should also consider whether waiting to be terminated is worth the anxiety and emotional turmoil!
Plus: You Can Leave with Your Reputation Intact
While it’s not always the case, it’s fair to say that hiring managers and recruiters have an inherent bias against candidates who have been laid off from their previous job. Most potential employers nowadays are quite sympathetic to people who have lost their jobs over the past few years of the global pandemic, but those who may have lost their job due to poor performance or discipline, however accurate that may be, can be damaging to future prospects.
Plus, if you leave on bad terms, it’s possible that your previous employer could give you a bad review when your potential future employer calls for a reference. Depending on the company and the role you are up for, this could impact their decision to hire you.
However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. According to employment attorneys, you can negotiate a neutral reference check-in severance agreement or sue for wrongful terminations in case of a dishonorable firing. This ensures that your previous employee cannot badmouth you.
Minus: Harder to Pursue Legal Action Later
If the reason you are considering leaving your job is due to unfair practices in the workplace, be it discrimination, harassment, unreasonable expectations, unsafe working conditions, or others, it is much harder to prove wrongful termination or retaliation claims against your employer. They will argue that it was your choice to quit, which brings about some doubt about your claims. After all, you cannot sue for wrongful termination if there was no termination in the first place!
However, a number of states recognize what is legally known as “constructive discharge”, which means that people can be forced to leave a job without being fired due to some of the reasons listed above. This makes it possible to file wrongful termination, discrimination, or harassment suits, but there are difficult to prove in court. It may not be ideal, but getting fired will help you prove your case of wrongful termination much more easily.
A Final Word
Deciding whether to leave a job when you feel like the end may be near or waiting for that end to come towards you is a decision that is personal to each person. There’s no way to give a one-size-fits-all solution. Even those who are deemed experts in the field will give you different pieces of advice on whether to quit or stay.
Ultimately, it is a business decision and must be considered carefully. Don’t act before thinking because you might end up regretting it later. We’ve listed some of the pros and cons that you must consider before making the choice – it’s up to you to compare them to your situation and make the best choice!