A reader writes:
Six months ago I was laid off from my job where I was a salaried employee with benefits. Since then, I have found employment freelancing for a media company where I am paid hourly with no benefits. The people in my position do not have a contract or a set schedule so you never know if you will be working a 2 hour shift or a 20 hour shift. Frequently we receive day-of notice that there is no work for us that day. If I were working 40+ hours a week, I wouldn’t mind so much, but lately, the work has slowed down to a point where in the past month I have been working 4, 8, 12 hour weeks.
I have expressed my concern to my boss about work being so slow lately. She keeps telling me that it will pick up, but things keep falling through (due to reasons beyond her control). She assures me that it will pick up in January. I love my boss. She took a chance on me when a lot of people didn’t and I have learned so much from her, which is why I don’t want to burn this bridge.
I am considering moving back home which is in another part of the country in order to save money. But with the holidays approaching (and my company being closed for nearly 2 weeks around Christmas and New Years) and the current economy, I can’t hold out much longer. I would like to cut my losses while I still can. Is there ever a situation where it is acceptable to give less than 2 weeks notice? And if so, how do I quit on good terms so that I can work for this company again in the future?
This is one of the few situations where it might be okay to quit with less than two weeks notice -- because your company is giving you little work and little notice of what your work (and thus your pay) will be like day to day.
I recommend simply talking to your boss. If you've made up your mind to leave and it's just a question of timing, just tell her that your finances have made it impossible to stay. Ask for her guidance on the question of whether you could leave with only a week (or less) of notice and whether it would be a problem or not. With the company about to close for the holidays and work so light, it might be a non-issue to them. Just ask.
And if she tells you that they really need the two weeks notice and can't be flexible, then you can figure out from there how much of a hardship it would be to you to give it. If she makes it clear that two weeks is expected no matter what, and you really can't give it without significant hardship, then just be really apologetic, even mortified, and explain that there's been so little work that you're now in dire financial straits and need to take this opportunity while it's in front of you. Sounding genuinely sorry often makes people want to cut you some slack.