Offer a resignation or ask for a leave?

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Q:  I just started a job about 2 months ago.  Unfortunately, I have an unforeseen family crisis, which will greatly interfere with my ability to do my job for about 3 weeks.  I am not sure what to do.  I was thinking of offering my notice and resigning.  What are my options?

A: Crises occur in almost everyone’s life at one point or another.  Because you have been in your role for such a short period of time, the timing is a challenge.  If you had been in the role for a longer period of time, this might not be as difficult.

You have a few options.  You could approach your manager and explain your situation.  You could request a short leave of absence to attend to your personal issue.  You could explain that you would be willing to take the time off unpaid since you probably have not accrued any paid time off (PTO) or vacation.  Your manager may need to review the situation with her or her manager since this might be an unusual request.   You could also offer your resignation but I feel that this option should not be the first option that you put on the table.

Recruiting and onboarding a new employee is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.  You are probably only partially onboarded.  If you left your role, all of that investment would be a sunken cost never to be recouped.  At least, if you return in three weeks, there is a possibility that some of the investment would be realized and they would not have to replace you.

Three weeks is the length of a generous vacation.  Most employers would consider this a disruption, but not a significant one, unless there is a significant event or deadline approaching.

Hopefully you have established a positive relationship with your manager.  If you have proven yourself as a valuable contributor, your employer may be flexible with your request.

If your employer grants a short-term leave to allow you to take some time off, upon your return, you should be grateful and flexible.  As an example, you should not be the one asking for the week off around Independence Day or other popular vacation weeks.

Good luck managing your crisis.  Sometimes life tosses us some unexpected challenges.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.