Word to the Wise: Don’t Offer to Quit!

Aug 17, 2022 ,

Dear General Union,

Yesterday at work, I was called into my manager’s office and we had an argument over a pay raise. I knew I was worth more than I was being paid so I told the manager that if the company wouldn’t give me a better deal, then I would submit my two week’s quitting notice. Rather than continue the discussion, my manager told me that; he accepted my resignation, he would pay me two weeks pay in lieu of notice, and that I was not to come to work the next day. I’m not going to lie; I am a bit shocked. Can my employer do this? Can I fight against being terminated?

~ Termination Blues

Dear Termination Blues,

These days workers have a growing sense that they are being undercut by their bosses. When the work you put in is not being shown in your paycheck, it is easy to feel disrespected, and in these moments we often feel argumentative. Unfortunately, our word and especially our threats have real consequences. Just like you can be kicked off an airline flight for making the wrong joke, your sharp tongue can endanger your livelihood.

In Japan, “verbal contracts” (i.e. spoken promises or agreements) are considered valid if they are presented in good faith. In this context, telling your boss that you will quit if they do not give you a raise is the same as presenting them with a formal letter of ultimatum with your signature, letterhead, and all the other official trappings.

If you want to argue that you did not give the verbal ultimatum in good faith, then you are looking at an up-hill fight; nearly all statements at work are considered to be made in good faith unless there is an extraordinary reason to believe otherwise, and it may ultimately be up to a judge.

For bosses in Japan, it is not necessarily easy to fire employees. “At-will employment” (meaning that you can be fired at any time and for any reason) is not a concept here. Therefore, if you present an upset boss with the opportunity to get rid of you by accepting a verbal notice of quitting, that boss will feel like they won the jackpot.

If you have a problem at work, keep cool and play it safe. Be aware of what you should and should not say when having hard conversations. If you have a problem, get informed now by applying for a consultation with us by CLICKING HERE.