Time Your Exit Correctly

Don't lose important benefits that you may have coming

You’ve been offered a better job or perhaps you’re about to take the entrepreneurial plunge. You type up your two-week notice, content that now is as good a time as any to leave — but is it?

Determining when to break ties with an employer can be just as important as the new opportunity you choose to pursue. Whenever possible, your last day on a job should be based on careful research. For example, “the amount of money you earn in an employee retirement fund is largely influenced by how well you time your departure,” says Shirley Singletary, president of Search World, a New York-based executive recruitment firm. If you participate in a company retirement plan, find out when you will be fully vested and how much you and your company contribute each pay period. “This information is especially important,” Singletary adds, “because tracking the dollar value of your retirement plan will enable you to choose your last day of employment based on clear financial goals.”

When Gina Frizelle decided to leave Fidelity Investments after four years to attend the University of Maryland’s M.B.A. program, she immediately investigated her company’s 401(k) plan and other stock options. She was scheduled to start the program in September, and since her anniversary date fell in June, she was able to make her five years required to become fully vested. By working past her anniversary date, Frizelle was able to leave the company with $23,000 instead of half of that.

Singletary also suggests that you find out the details of your current health insurance policy prior to leaving. Even if you intend to join another company’s health plan, consider that it might have a waiting period before benefits start or exclude pre-existing conditions. At some firms, employees are covered under the company medical plan until the last day of the month of their departure. In this case, you would be covered longer if your departure date is early in the month rather than near the end.

Do you owe the company money? Or, does, your company owe you? If you’ve taken out any company loans or owe anything on your corporate credit car, you will probably have to make arrangements to repay the money on your last day of employments to repay the money on your last day of employment or shortly thereafter. On the other hand, if you’re expecting a bonus, a tuition reimbursement check or any other cash awards, it might make sense to put off your departure date; companies usually refuse to make these payouts once an employee has left the firm.

Company perks are history once you leave your employer. “Take advantage of any discounts on products and services before you go,” adds Frizelle. Because of a lack of planning, she was not able to take advantage of Fidelity’s computer purchase program, which offers employees at 25% discount. Unless your new opportunity prevents you from setting your own last day of employment, choose one that will let you to enjoy the most benefits. As soon

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