I Quit My Job During A Pandemic

I Gave Up My Permanent Contract

Surprisingly, when I tell people I’ve quit my permanent contract job during a pandemic they are not as shocked as I’d expect. Maybe this is because they don’t know me well enough to realise how big of a deal this is for me. Maybe it’s because so many people have lost jobs over the last year. Maybe it’s because people quit jobs all the time.

Why is it such a big deal?

I can obsess about money. I have improved a lot over the last three years after receiving help from a support worker from Penumbre. I used to know where every penny had been spent and that it was on the cheapest option available. I would research individual items to within an inch of their life before making the purchase. I would wear very worn clothes that had rips and holes because I didn’t want to part with money for anything new.

In my defense, I was an apprentice earning just under £3 an hour with a flat to support with this without any government help. I then was working a 0 hour contract and while, at times, I could pick up extra shifts there were also periods when my shifts were halved. This insecurity clearly had an impact on my relationship with money. I joined my workplace 3 years ago on a fixed term contract but the policies changed and this was amended to be a permanent position after about a year.

I was desperate for a permanent contract as I needed one for a mortgage which has been on my to-do list for two years. I was/am? desperate to own my own home and have more space to fill my personality with. Yet, here I was putting this goal, this dream, this ambition on the back burner and figuratively ripping up the permanent contract I had so desperately wanted.

“Generous pay, flexible working practices and the importance of mental health and wellbeing”

I have been in my permanent contract position for just over a year and it was a promotion for me so I certainly didn’t plan to leave so soon. I’ve had one eye on my computer screen and another eye on the job market for a while due to lack of variety of tasks, lack of challenge and not being busy enough which has an impact on my productivity levels and motivation. I’m about to start a HND in Business so I’d prefer to concentrate on the course rather than bounce between jobs but it was becoming hard to ignore the signs that I needed to make a change.

The first was, as previously mentioned, my lack of productivity and motivation. Another circumstance which had a significant impact on my decision was The Young Scotland Programme 2021 which I was lucky to be a part of a few months ago. I attended the 3 day long event and was surrounded by employees of various public bodies who were unintentionally advocating their workplace. They did this by talking about their generous pay, flexible working practices and the efforts their employers were making toward maintaining the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. All of which I didn’t have much experience with over the last year.

I had applied for a working from home position at the same pay with my current workplace a day before the event. I wasn’t sure how I felt about home working but was aware that I really struggle with office dynamics and socialising (if it’s not one-on-one) in general. I was reassured when almost every individual at this event had recently or was currently working from home and had nothing but good things to say about this.

While at the event I received a notification to say I had been selected for interview. I scheduled this for the Friday I would return home from the event. A few days after my interview I was advised I had been successful.

The Tip of The Iceberg

All of the above were things that had been on my mind and that I was aware of for a while. However, 8 days before I was offered my new job I had an unpleasant conversation with someone at a much more senior level than me. I was shocked and upset. I was worried for myself professionally. I’ve had to ask myself “are you sure you’re not rage quitting?” but no. The conversation was the tip of the iceberg and there were already underlying issues I had been putting off addressing for months. Although I applied for the new position one day before this conversation I was proud to be able to return to work after my YSP event just 8 days after the unpleasant conversation with a new job offer on the table.

The unpleasant conversation also reignited my passion for mental health. Don’t get me wrong – it’s something I will always be passionate about but somewhat quietly. That’s changed. I want to be more open. I asked to be a part of my workplace ‘Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy’ focus group. The focus group didn’t end up running as planned due to lack of interest(?!) but I was given the opportunity to talk about my lived experience of mental health and how it has had an impact on my working life and how myself and others can be better accommodated for. I said that even having a staff mental health and wellbeing policy highlights that the issue is a value of the employer and is a step in the right direction. I also signed up for Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Champion training which was surprisingly overbooked in comparison to the lack of interest for the focus group. Since I may not be a part of this organisation in 6 months time, who knows, I am also in the process of becoming a volunteer for a local mental health charity.

What’s the Catch?

My new post is only temporary for 6 months.

I had applied on a secondment basis but, for reasons which have been thoroughly explained to me, my current department could not approve the request. Therefore, I was faced with a decision. Stay in my current post where I am bored, unhappy, there is no chance of progression and a lack of flexibility or quit this job in the hopes of finding something better down the line but risking unemployment in 6 months?

The new job gracefully gave me a week to come to a decision. During this week I read a lot of Refinery 29’s Money Diaries and Salary Stories including one whereby a woman’s biggest salary increase came from taking a big risk. I also looked at other local employers’ terms and conditions, flexible working policies and pay grades. I knew if stayed in the security of my permanent contract I would not continuously look at my other options and avenues.

I also enjoyed reading about what everyone in the Money Diaries articles were making for breakfast and lunch while working from home (food is a great love of mine) which were often much healthier options than my daily portable lunches or going to the canteen. Fuel has just gone up £15 a tank for me which is £48 a month not including electric, internet and council tax increases yet my wage has gone up approx £12 a month. I would save at least £100 a month on fuel alone. I would be gifted with an extra 2 hours a day which I would usually spend on travel. I would be able to do college work during my lunch breaks without interruptions…

I wrote my resignation

I had discussions with HR before writing my resignation as I wasn’t sure if exiting my permanent contract to take up something on a fixed-term basis was even an option. I was informed the decision was extremely unusual but nonetheless possible. With this information in mind I wrote up my resignation and pinged it to my manager. I was on annual leave when my research and decisions were finalised and I didn’t like how impersonally I had to go about my resignation but I wanted my notice period to start as soon as possible. I was initially met with silence but after chasing up my end date I was responded to.

On my return to the workplace I had a meeting or two due to the fact such decisions are unusual but I voiced why this would be the best option for me and I have been granted early release from my current position.

So, What’s the Plan?

I wish I had one!

But, that’s kind of the whole point.

Never in my life have I done this and I am lucky to be in a position where I don’t have a mortgage or children to think about as my approach probably would have been entirely different.

I know that I will be working full time with my current employer for 6 months but where I will be next April is a mystery…

I have been trying to obtain a second job for over a year so all my eggs are not in one basket and to provide the variety I so desperately seek. It just so happens that one week before starting my temporary position I was offered a second job cleaning a few hours a week. A job I may not have been able to do if I wasn’t working from home due to travel arrangements. This will let me put money away in a safety net and is perhaphs a nod from the universe that I have made a good decision.

I also know for certain that I will be studying for my HND in Business remotely and I hope this will improve my knowledge and open more doors for me upon completion.

Hopefully I’ll keep you updated but, let’s face it, I’m not the most consistent blogger am I?

Let me hear your thoughts!

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