The pros and cons of taking a year off

2 min.

Taking a year off is a big decision. Be sure to weigh up all the pros and cons before you take the plunge.

The benefits

If your mind is made up and you’re seriously considering your options, you probably already have a plan in mind. Here are some popular reasons why people decide to take a year off:

To learn new skills

After years on the job market, you might be feeling the need to take stock of your career and your professional goals. Perhaps you’ll make the most of your time off learning a new language, going back to school or testing out a job in a different field.

Do something you’ve always wanted to do

Perhaps it’s time to check some things off your bucket list. Taking a year off can be a great time to write that book that’s been in the back of your mind for years, travel around the world, do some volunteer work, or start a business.

Look after your kids

Perhaps you want to have more time to spend with your family. A year off can be a golden opportunity to bond more with your kids and strengthen family ties.

Enjoy some R&R

Maybe you’re ready for some you time after years on the job. Everyone can benefit from taking time off to relax, enjoy life and decompress, whether it’s a week’s vacation or an extended leave.

Things to think about

Telling your employer

Be well-prepared and point out what your employer stands to gain from saying yes.

Going back to work

A year off is often a time of reflection. The time will likely change you, and things might also change at work while you’re gone. Take time to meet with your employer before you go back to work to discuss your options.

Family impacts

Depending on what kind of plans you have, taking a year off can have a significant impact on your spouse and kids. Think about the financial side of things first, but remember to think about how your family will react to your new focus. Travelling abroad, going back to school and moving are all things that can have a big impact on others too.


As a general rule, you won’t be earning a salary during your year off. This means you’ll have to save a significant chunk of your earnings for a few years before you take leave. For instance, by setting aside 20% of your salary for four years, you’ll be able to take a year off and still enjoy 80% of your regular salary. Obviously, it will take a while to get used to the idea and there’ll be some sacrifices to make.

Other things to consider

  • Make sure you can afford to take the time off from a financial perspective. Talk it over with a financial security advisor if need be to draw up an action plan.
  • If you’re craving R&R and family time, taking an extended vacation for a few weeks might be a better fit for your needs. Ask yourself what’s motivating you to take such a long time off.
  • Taking a year off could mean losing certain fringe benefits for a while, such as group insurance, and it might affect the recognition of your years of service if you are participating in your employer’s pension plan. Do your homework before you take the plunge!

So, what’s the verdict?

The main thing is to think things through properly and make sure you’re well-prepared. If you plan it right, a year off can be a highly enriching experience. If your finances and responsibilities will stretch to it and if your employer gives you the green light, go for it. It can be a great opportunity for you to grow as a person, learn new skills and recharge your batteries—which could be just as beneficial for your employer too!


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