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Practicalities of Having a Career Break


So you think you’d like to take a career break – congratulations!  Now you need to talk to your employer.  Many larger companies have policies for staff wanting to take career breaks, which guarantee you a job to return to, plus some continuation of service and certain benefits such as your pension.

Read the small print and make sure you are clear about and comfortable with how your service-related benefits will be affected.

If no such policy exists at your workplace, don’t worry – try talking to your employer, as you may be able to reach an informal arrangement, although make sure this is in writing.  This will depend on how sympathetic your employer is, how long you want to be away for, and how valuable you are as an employee.  Factors such as length of service and your skills set may be relevant here.

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If your employer is unsympathetic to your request, and you are still determined that you want a break, you may decide to take a chance and resign, hoping that you can get your old job back later.  This clearly requires a great deal of thought beforehand and should not be taken lightly.  However, depending on what you spend your career break doing, your priorities and future plans may change, and you could decide that you want a change in your next job anyway.  Think carefully before taking this course of action, and take advice from family and loved ones who may be affected by your decision.

Can I afford a career break?

In any of the above scenarios, you will not be receiving your regular salary during your career break.  You will need to plan ahead to make sure you can fund your sabbatical and maintain any existing financial commitments, either through saving up in advance, relying on private means, or taking other paid work.  Also bear in mind that during your time away from your job, colleagues, processes, policies and systems may change, and that you may need to refresh your skills, brush up on your knowledge and catch up on any developments that have passed you by during your break.


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