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I have been offered an exciting new position with another company. It is not a competitor to my current workplace, but an entirely new field that I have been trying to break into for some time.

I am approaching my anniversary date with my current employer when my vacation time will reset for the new year.

For both my new employer and myself, the best start date is a few weeks after the anniversary date.

From an ethical standpoint, is it better to give notice before my anniversary date or is it all right to wait until after?

I don't want it to appear as though I purposefully waited to give notice to cash in on extra vacation pay; but at the same time, I don't want my current employer to force me to leave early so I end up without a pay cheque for a few weeks.


Sheila Copps

Former deputy prime minister

This question is much more common than you might think. It is also not an ethical question, although you might see it as such.A loyal person would not want to leave his or her employer in the lurch. However, a practical person also has to look out for his or her own best interest.

If the tables were turned, and your company were bought by a competitor, would you be guaranteed a reasonable amount of time in the job to facilitate your transition?

More often than not, if your services are deemed redundant, an employer offers the minimum amount of severance and notice required under provincial labour laws.

In this instance, you are not bolting to the competition, so there is no ethical dilemma. You are moving to a better job with more opportunity in a field you have been trying to break into.

You are right to consider the financial implications of informing your current employer too soon. Your generosity could cost you dearly, with the possibility of an early termination.

I would counsel you to ascertain your obligations under the law and be guided by them. The law is there to protect the rights and define the obligations of employees and employers. Any extra notice could jeopardize your financial situation.

In the current job climate, you cannot afford to sacrifice vacation pay. Your cash flow will also be tight as paycheques tend to move slowly in the early days of a new job.

Protect yourself by offering the notice required by law and move to your new challenge with a clear conscience. It sounds like you are going in the right direction.


Pamela Jeffery

Founder, Women's Executive Network, Toronto

Congratulations. It's an exciting time and it looks like your perseverance and patience have paid off, landing what I hope is your dream job – or at least a position that will put you on the path to your dream job.

In this economy, with all its uncertainties, this is exactly the kind of opportunity you have to seize.

As well, I'm heartened that at a time when it's hard to escape an ethics scandal (think Lance Armstrong), you are thinking about the ethics of your own situation.

That said, you seem to be framing this as an ethics question when really what you are concerned about is the optics. Ethics is about doing what's right. It's not about appearances.

You should do what is right for you, your new employer and your current employer. If waiting until after your anniversary date to give notice still gives your current employer adequate time to find your replacement and have the person ready to take over, then you will have done what is expected.

As for the additional vacation pay that kicks in after your anniversary date, offer to forgo it, since you're leaving anyway.

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