It’s officially happening folks. Emily and I have informed our employers that we no longer require their services. It is freeing, and also terrifying at the same time. But, we know that this is a calculated decision, and we are ready to move on with our lives. It’s not us, it’s them. However, in true fashion, we have gamed the system, again. We haven’t quit our jobs at all….yet.
How Have You Quit Your Jobs, But Also Not Quit?
My Leave of Absence
You might’ve guessed by the title of this section that we have decided to take a leave of absence. A leave of absence is a period of time where you take an unpaid leave from your employer. When you return, they give you your job back. At my current employer, I can only take a 30 day leave of absence! Part of me is regretting taking a leave of absence. It implies that there is a chance I will return when it is over, and there isn’t. I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Alas, that temptation is short sighted.
Why Take a Leave of Absence Instead of Quit?
The reason why I chose to take a leave of absence instead of outright quitting is because at my job, upon turning in a notice, you can’t take any vacation time. We had a physical therapist inform the company of his intention to leave in three months. They didn’t let him take any PTO from that point forward. To add insult to injury, my employer also doesn’t pay out any vacation time.
If my vacation time was paid out, I wouldn’t take a leave of absence. Instead, we play this song and dance. Even though most of my fellow employees know I have no intention of coming back, we act like there’s a chance I’ll be back, which is both funny, and pointless.
I did try to negotiate to work remotely, but because I was moving to another country, they said it would be impossible. After a discussion with the HR team, explaining that we are going to Cyprus, they suggested I take a leave of absence. It’s possible that I mentioned Emily’s grandparents health as one of the reasons for going, which is why they are under the impression that we could be back within 30 days. Even after I told them that it’s very unlikely.
Anyway, the big benefit is that upon taking a leave of absence, I start using my vacation time. So, almost the first two weeks of being gainfully unemployed will be paid. This policy is silly. However, the HR team is asking me to go ahead and send in my resignation letter effective the date my leave of absence is supposed to end. That way, they can go ahead and start looking for my replacement. I don’t expect them to mourn my loss or anything. On the other hand, it goes to show how quickly they move on to the next best thing.
Emily’s Leave of Absence
So, Emily quit her job, right? Nope.
She is also taking a leave of absence. However, unlike my measly 30 days, she gets 6 months! Now that’s a little more of a benefit. It’s also a safe bet. In the off chance that we get to Cyprus and hate it, we can always come back and she can pick right back up with her employer. It would be like taking a 6 month vacation.
Emily also gets vacation pay after she leaves the company. She could either choose to receive one lump sum, or she can use it incrementally. We definitely use our vacation time, though. This means she also has less than two weeks of vacation time to burn.
To keep the gravy train going, Emily also gets to maintain her health insurance for three months, which covers both of us. If we want to continue at the end of three months, we can choose to go through COBRA. We aren’t really relying on that however, because we are using an international healthcare plan to cover us until we are fully covered under the universal healthcare offered in Cyprus.
The biggest drawback of taking a leave of absence is that it isn’t concrete. We personally know that we aren’t coming back to our jobs. Especially not before 30 days is up, in my case. However, while our FIRE-itis (like senioritis, but for early retirement) is kicking in, our jobs are expecting us to do the same things, and sometimes more than what we’ve always done at work because they think we will be back.
While our responsibilities should be winding down, our respective employers are trying to milk us for every last drop before we leave. We also don’t want to burn any bridges so we are doing our best to accommodate, while also maintaining a decent work life balance. Which to us is working none and life-ing a shit ton.
Immediately quitting our jobs would’ve been fun short term, and would’ve been a spectacle. However, that type of thinking isn’t what got us to this point where we are job-optional. The freedom to choose whether to work or not is something that we don’t take lightly. We’ve hustled, made sacrifices, and stayed consistent on the path to financial independence. We weigh the pro’s and con’s of each decision, and make the choice as a team. This is why we’ve decided to forego out right quitting, and to get paid for a couple more weeks of our time which will help us transition into our version of early retirement.