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How do I tell my boss I’m leaving the country?

The Question:

I'm working at a job that I love in a company that I love. I'll have been there two years in April.

I was hired after graduation with no industry experience and they have given me every opportunity for professional growth and development that I could ever ask for. I know that they are training me to advance within the small team of seven. The problem is this job is in Australia and I'm ready to move back to Canada. My fiancé and I have decided to make the move before our wedding in Canada in September, 2013.

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I'm hesitant to discuss wedding plans with my co-workers for fear I'll let something slip. When is the best time for me to bring up the move to my boss? I want to stay on good terms and make things easy for her and the team, but I worry that mentioning it too early will limit the professional opportunities they give me when they know that I'm leaving.

The First Answer:

Greg Conner

Vice-president, human resources, League Financial Partners, Victoria

First of all congratulations on your upcoming wedding and also for finding such a great employer right out of school.

I am not sure why you are considering keeping such a great life event a secret from your close colleagues and friends. To my mind, the expression "start as you mean to go on" comes to mind. That is, be up front and tell your team what you are planning and when, and I know based on your description of them, that they will celebrate with you.

To be effective, the employment relationship must be a clear and open two-way street, with both parties having the ability to speak freely and openly without fear of reprisal in any form. (If it is not, either you or your employer has not picked wisely).

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Undoubtedly, they will be sad you will be departing, but at the same time they will be happy for you and your new life. In return for the professional development and opportunity they have given you, give them the time needed to recruit the right person to fill your role when you leave. Best wishes!

The Second Answer:

Doug Nathanson

Chief human resources officer at Canadian Tire

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

I strongly believe that employees should always strive to leave their employer on the best possible terms, particularly if the company has treated them well over time. Employers never like to lose good people, so they appreciate time to plan around unforeseen departures. Proper notice from an employee gives the company sufficient lead time to fill the position as well as ensure a smooth transition. It also reflects an ongoing commitment to the company and can assist with preserving the employee's professional reputation – something that is critical for future references.

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If your employment contract does not specify a notice period, consider what is reasonable. A commonly used rule of thumb is two weeks' notice for a role at the manager level or below, with a longer notice period for more senior positions, for example, 30 to 60 days.

Given your reasons for leaving, however, I would recommend giving your boss notice of your plans by the middle of 2013. While you don't want too long of a goodbye period (which is generally not productive for employers or employees), you do want to give your company as much time as possible to react to your departure.

In addition, this will give you the chance to clear as much as you can off your plate and shift work to your colleagues. This will help facilitate the best possible outcome for you and your company before you part ways amicably.

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