Do I Forfeit My Bonus if I Leave My Job?

In 2021, the nation had more than 9 million unfilled positions , as many workers resigned by the end of the year. The reasons for leaving a job could be many, including seeking new career opportunities. No matter your reason, resigning from your current job might raise an important question regarding a potential bonus.

Many employers reward workers with bonus pay. If you resign, you might wonder if you have the right to collect at least some of the bonus, but the answer may not be straightforward.

A bonus is usually a financial incentive based on job performance or other factors. A sign-on bonus might get you to accept the job, but that would not factor into your decision to resign. An annual bonus might be based on how the company performed. That could be a significant factor in deciding if or when to resign from your job.

Other bonuses include:

  • Performance-based for work contributions.
  • Retention bonus for staying with the company.
  • Spot bonus for commendable achievements.
  • Holiday bonus on national holidays.
  • Referral bonus for helping the company hire new talent.

Many bonuses are discretionary and do not have clear indicators on how your employer determines individual amounts for each worker. That makes perks an uncertain matter when it comes to resigning from your job.

The matter can be easy regarding annual bonuses, holiday pay, and similar incentives. You wait until the end of the year with your resignation effective at the start of the new year, but other bonuses might complicate the matter.

Employment Contract and State Laws Could Affect Bonus Eligibility

You might have an individually negotiated contract or are an employee subject to a collective bargaining agreement. Both are legally enforceable employment contracts that likely detail certain types of bonus pay.

Your employment contract might determine how much of a particular bonus you might collect based on how long you worked into the year. It also might have a standard bonus pay amount or other contractual considerations that could clarify what you might receive upon resigning.

An experienced employment lawyer could help you understand your contractual rights regarding bonuses when you resign. Your lawyer could also help you understand how state laws might affect bonus pay.

If your job is in New Jersey, state law says your employer must pay any wages you owe when you leave. Those wages include any bonuses or commissions to which you otherwise are entitled. Your employer might be located in a nearby state, and you commute there to do your job. In such cases, state laws might determine how much bonus pay might be owed.

South Jersey Employment Lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Upholds Workers’ Rights

If you have an issue over bonus pay or another employment matter, our South Jersey employment lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can help. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.