Author Topic: Sabbatical or quit?  (Read 1292 times)

StockBeard

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Sabbatical or quit?
« on: August 02, 2020, 07:34:01 PM »
I'm getting ready to pull the plug at my company, but recently found that they have a "long leave of absence" policy, which could allow me to take a sabbatical instead of quitting right away. I'm trying to decide which one is the best for me.

Basically my real goal is to quit the company but use the sabbatical as a safety net in case things go bad (arbitrary example: I'm not sure how I would react if the stock market drops by 30% again by the end of the year. And I'm sure there are thousands of other scenarios where I could freak out)

Pros and cons of the sabbatical, as I see them:
PROS
- safety net if I decide I do not like the retired life or if my finances aren't as solid as I expected
- Conventional wisdom and my wife say that not taking a safety net would be foolish

CONS
- It seems like getting more than 3 months will be tough, if not impossible. I would have liked a year or 6 months at least
- The need to negotiate with my manager, convince him I intend to return (a bit dishonest as that is not my intent, and also has other ramifications, e.g. maybe the need to come up with an explanation of how this benefits the company), etc... sounds like a lot of work
- I would have liked a clear cut, being able to tell my colleagues "this is my last day" instead of telling them "see you in 3 months", only to not return. Dishonest, again, and not great for closure.
- the return date will be looming over my time off like a cloud in the distance
- I have no idea how to quit after the sabbatical. More stuff to research
- I have remaining paid vacation days that I might have to forfeit (while if I leave, I get to take them as paid holiday before I officially leave)

Basically, I badly want to quit, but it feels a little bit stupid to not take the safety net of a sabbatical as I go. Then again, taking the sabbatical feels like it would not give me the closure I expect.

Financially, I'm FI at this point (although of course additional buffer would always be great), so that's not directly part of the calculation at the moment for me. This is mostly an emotional decision.

What would you do in my situation?

Rdy2Fire

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 07:50:36 PM »
QUIT!

You're FI, you know you don't want to be there, and can bank the vacation $$.

FYI I was in this situation last year finally decided to just quit and be done.

NotJen

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 07:58:53 PM »
I probably wouldn't take a sabbatical if my intention was to quit.  Sounds like it might be a lot of hoops to jump through, and I wouldn't like feeling that dishonest.  When I quit, I personally felt motivated by a complete break - I had no desire to go part time or take a long break, since I would still feel tied down and restricted that way.

Do you have a really good relationship with this company?  Do you possibly still have a safety net even if you quit - as in, they like you enough and the work is such that they would hire you back in 6 months or a year if you wanted back in?

That was my situation - when I quit in December, I told them I was taking a long break/changing careers to something more low-key, and they said I was always welcome back if I changed my mind.  In fact, they just sought me out and hired me as a contractor for about 2 months of part-time work, and it's pretty awesome so far.  Mostly took on the work for something to do while I'm home, since my original plans were ruined by the pandemic, but I would have been comfortable turning them down if this year had gone a little differently.

StockBeard

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 08:03:06 PM »
Do you have a really good relationship with this company?  Do you possibly still have a safety net even if you quit - as in, they like you enough and the work is such that they would hire you back in 6 months or a year if you wanted back in?
Thanks for this question. It's a mixed bag: I've been with them for 12 years and have a great record in general. However my current management have made it clear that they are trying to dismantle the team (they're not forcing people out but will not replace anyone who quits, basically), and there aren't that many options for my position, beyond this team, in my location. So, in theory I probably wouldn't have a hard time joining the company again, but in practice they might not have openings if I want to come back.
but it's a good way to think about it.

Also thanks for the reply Rdy2Fire. Great to have the answer of people who have done it.

FLBiker

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2020, 07:50:33 AM »
Personally, I'd take the sabbatical.  While (I think) I have good relationships with the people I work with, and I am an honest person, work is work.  My goal is to do my work well, while getting as much (in terms of salary, stability, benefits) as I can.  It's different than "real" relationships (to me).  For example, I moved to Canada last month, from the US, with no intention to return.  I have kept my current job, and my direct supervisor knows, but most other folks just know that (like everyone) I'm working from home.  Similarly, my wife took a leave of absence (from the same employer) and has no intention to return (but may theoretically teach online in the spring if they're still online in the spring).

Secondarily, I feel like in the pandemic, all bets are off.  I don't think anyone at the company would bat an eye if you changed your plans one way or the other.

cool7hand

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2020, 08:09:30 AM »
I'd read your initial question as if someone else wrote it. I say that because I don't think you're really asking about quit v. sabbatical. To me, it reads like you're questioning whether you're really FI. If you're worried about another 30% drop in the stock market, you're not FI. I hope that is of some help.

ixtap

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2020, 08:17:34 AM »
For us, another pro to the sabbatical is extending the COBRA coverage period. However, if we choose this option, DH will definitely return to work for some period of time. How long depends on a lot of factors.

Would you be giving up your vacation time or would it be paid out before beginning the unpaid leave? If the former, how is that different that having it paid out when you quit?

4tify

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2020, 09:29:24 AM »
If they are interested in not replacing you and you have a good relationship why not negotiate a severance? Best of both worlds.

bacchi

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2020, 10:16:57 AM »
Dishonest?

They're paying you to do work. You do the work and you get paid. It's a simple business relationship.

If they offer a sabbatical, they know that some people will look for other jobs and quit at the end of it.


SKL-HOU

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2020, 06:03:37 PM »
Is your job guaranteed with the sabbatical? It may not be the safety net you think it is if it is not guaranteed upon return. If the market drops like that, they may choose to let you go especially since they already have plans to dismantle the team.
Will you need income in the near future? Since you are FI(RE!), i assume you are set financially at least for a few years or more. If you end up needing to make money, you can get some sort of job (depending on need) in the future. Whatever you do, do not leave without using up all your time off unless they will pay you for it.

StockBeard

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2020, 12:51:31 AM »
If you're worried about another 30% drop in the stock market, you're not FI.
Haha, I've been on the other side of that comment so I can relate, but as you might know, being FI is one thing, finally pulling the plug is another (and it's not one of those situations where I'm quitting while my partner still works, I'm already the breadwinner at the moment). All sorts of questions and fears are surfacing now that I'm ready to do it. All the numbers tell me I'm good, but I don't know how I would react in case of a 30% market drop without salary income, simply because it's not something I've ever done before :)

If they are interested in not replacing you and you have a good relationship why not negotiate a severance? Best of both worlds.
Good point. I might try to negotiate that, yes

Is your job guaranteed with the sabbatical? It may not be the safety net you think it is if it is not guaranteed upon return.

You're right. Upon reading the rules closer, it seems they only guarantee "best effort" when I come back

Would you be giving up your vacation time or would it be paid out before beginning the unpaid leave? If the former, how is that different that having it paid out when you quit?
I'm in Japan, where the rules are slightly different. Remaining paid time off is lost if not used, there is no financial compensation. Don't quote me on that but that's my understanding of how it works here.

Zamboni

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2020, 05:27:34 AM »
A few more ideas:
1. How about using up your banked vacation time before you either quit or take sabbatical? Pros and cons to that?
2. Are there any other options that might work for you? For example, my employer offers something called "phased retirement" that allows someone to switch to half time for up to five years. The policy has codified that the department with someone in phased retirement will keep the budget money for the remainder of their salary and can use it to hire someone else to do half of their normal work. It does assume that the person going into phased retirement is normal retirement age, which might not apply in your case.

Smokystache

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2020, 11:41:51 AM »
You've likely checked this, but some employers with a sabbatical policy have a "you have to work X months after the sabbatical". Similar to the "we'll pay for $XXXX of education, but we own you for 3 years after that or you have to pay it back". Just double check the fine print.

But I'd vote to jump ship and go.

Zamboni

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2020, 12:01:51 PM »
^My employer technically has that language (have to come back after sabbatical), but as far as I know it is never enforced. Of course, our sabbaticals are normally unpaid by the employer, so what would they do? **Shrug** Depends on how feisty your HR office is, I guess.

StockBeard

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2020, 05:22:37 PM »
Thanks for the replies.
An additional question comes to mind...

Imagine I take the sabbatical, then leave just after that. What's an appropriate way (and timing) to say goodbye to colleagues? Sounds like a detail, but it's one of the things that bothers me the most. Can't say "I'm leaving" at the start of the sabbatical, but sending an email 6 months in would also be awkward?

BikeFanatic

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Re: Sabbatical or quit?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2020, 05:35:16 PM »
I vote take your vacation time and then quit. Then you can say goodbye normally. I agree I may be FI but taking the leap is difficult, good luck.