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Sabbatical Leave: What You Need to Know

You really enjoy your current job, but you feel like you need a break from your work.

Or maybe you have a dream of travelling and exploring other parts of the world but are not willing to give up your career to do so?

Well, a sabbatical leave could be the perfect answer to fulfil your dream or desire.

A sabbatical is basically an extended leave, usually at least from a month to a year, but to return to work afterwards. The reason for taking a sabbatical leave varies from person to person.

If there was an option to take a sabbatical leave from work,  62% of people in the UK said they would take it. Taking an extended break helps them recover burnout from the workload and achieve personal interests, such as pursuing a higher academic degree, skills, or doing voluntary work.

Taking a sabbatical leave is not as rare as it once was before. Nowadays, it is not only limited to the educational sectors. A survey conducted in 2018 found that 15% of employers were offering sabbaticals, but only 5% provided paid sabbatical leave.

Read on! To know more about sabbatical leave and how to take one.

What is a sabbatical leave?

The meaning of sabbatical is “a break from work”. A sabbatical leave from work means a full break from work. This break is mutually agreed with your employer (sometimes through negotiation), above and beyond your annual leave entitlement. The employer or organisation does not expect you to report to them or perform regular job duties.

On sabbatical leave, employees can pursue their interests or do what suits them best. For instance, you can seek a higher academic degree or improve your writing, research, travelling skills. You can also do some volunteering work, even take a rest or other activities. However, you still will be employed by the company or the organisation.

This practice of sabbatical leave is common in educational institutions. For instance, a professor is taking a break from the university to teach at a foreign university. The leave can also be for a higher degree or research their field. But, nowadays, private companies are offering sabbatical leave to attract possible employees.

Why you should take a sabbatical leave

Sabbaticals leave are often very personal to every employee. Taking a sabbatical leave depends on you and your need for a break from work. Your own emotions can drive you to take a break, such as stress and exhaustion, desire to experience other things or earn a degree or desire to improve professional skills such as Communication Skills, Sales & Negotiation Skills, etc.

People from many different backgrounds, sectors, and stages of their careers can choose to take sabbaticals for several reasons.

The following are some of the most common reasons for taking a sabbatical leave:

  • To recharge physically or mentally.
  • To spend more quality time with family, friends and children.
  • To take a self-discovery journey, both physical and spiritual.
  • To travel and explore other parts of the world.
  • For career development or to change careers path.
  • Desire to do some social welfare work, such as volunteering.

How long and how often you can take a sabbatical leave?

How long you can take a sabbatical from work depends on the institution or organisation you work for. Some universities may allow this leave for six months, a year (called “sabbatical year”) or more. In private companies, the leave is much shorter and often not available. They may offer you one or more months of sabbatical leave, depending on their policy and employee service years.

There is no fixed limit on how often you can take a sabbatical leave. This leave depends on your relationship with your employer. Some companies may offer you one sabbatical every two years or every seven years or don’t. So before joining the company, read the policy and what benefits you will have there.

For example, Adobe offers four weeks of sabbatical leave to those who’ve been employed in the company for at least five years and five weeks to those who’ve completed ten years of service.

Advantages & disadvantages of sabbatical leave?

Sabbatical leave means an extended break from a full-time career or work. There are several reasons why taking a sabbatical leave from work is an excellent idea. For instance, it gives you the chance to focus on personal goals or career objectives.

However, there are some serious drawbacks in taking a sabbatical. You should consider them before taking extended leave. For instance, there will be a job for you or not, when you return from leave. Also, can you cover your house rant, insurance, credit card and utility bills?

The advantage and disadvantage of sabbatical leave are the following:

Advantage

Disadvantage

Gaining experience and higher educational degree.Fear of job safety. You may have to look for a new job after returning from vacation.
Learning new skills to improve your career.Returning to work can be challenging; you might feel depressed to work in an office.
Improving your physical and mental health.Communication problem with the colleague.
Recover from burnout and improve your work-life balance.Change of attitude, habit and lifestyle.
A chance to do something fun and exciting, like travelling the world, doing voluntary work, or writing a book.You’ll have to play catch up with new processes, learn to use new tools and office rules.
Spending time with your loved one.A career gap in your curriculum vitae if you go on vacation or travelling.

Do you get paid for sabbatical leave in the UK?

Generally, you will not get paid if you take sabbatical leave. There are no laws in the UK that specifically deal with career breaks or extended leave. It’s an agreement between the employer and the employee. According to the gov.uk, “A company or employer is not legally obligated to offer a career break”. But some companies offer sabbatical leave to employees after a certain length of service.

For example, Deloitte offers a three to six-month sabbatical program for career growth for their employees. This extended break allows you to volunteer or pursue professional or personal growth opportunities. The company also pays you 40% of your salary, while you are on sabbatical leave.

Paid Sabbaticals vs Unpaid Sabbaticals:

Paid Sabbaticals
Unpaid Sabbaticals
The employer continues to pay the employee’s wage.There may be certain restrictions, such as prohibiting you from doing other types of paid work.
Generally, only offered to long-term employees.Generally, leave offered to employees who have worked at their company for a minimum period, usually two years.
The company will pay a percentage or full salary.For the sabbatical period, an employee’s pension and benefits will be suspended.

Are you eligible for a sabbatical leave?

You are eligible or not for a sabbatical leave entirely depends on the company policies. But the companies have to ensure that there is no discrimination against the employee and have a sabbatical policy. They also should consider all employee’s applications fairly and equally.

Often there are terms included in company sabbatical policies that help employees understand if they qualify. Below are the common examples of these terms:

  • Length of service
  • Disciplinary record
  • Exclusions at certain times of year (such as Christmas in retail or end of the year in accounting)
  • Someone available to cover your role (only applicable in small companies)

Most company policies prohibit you from working for another company while on subtotal leave.

Should you take a sabbatical?

This is a tough question to answer. Most companies or employers do not offer paid sabbatical leave, and every cent will go from your pocket. So, one person can’t take a sabbatical leave without having a healthy stash fund.

But if you have enough money to cover the vacation, your career would benefit from a bit of a refresh. If something you want to achieve or do outside of work, you could do it with a new perspective. For instance, wanting to travel and see the world, or want to learn something new.

How to take a sabbatical

You should prepare a list of steps before asking for a sabbatical leave. Below are a few steps you can take to begin the process of preparation for sabbatical leave:

Step 1: Enquiry about your company's sabbatical leave policy.

The first thing you need to do is find out if your company does have a sabbatical policy. If so, how long you can leave, is it paid leave, is there any requirement to fulfil, are there any forms you must complete? Who do you need to inform or talk to? What benefits will you be missing for the duration?

Step 2: Be prepared

You should prepare the necessary information before meeting with your manager, HR or director, such as:

  • When do you want to take your break?
  • How long do you want to be away?
  • What do you plan to do in this leave?
  • While you’re away, how will your workload be managed?

You are making it easy for your manager or employer to grant you a sabbatical leave by thinking about them beforehand.

Step 3: Keep it quiet

You should not tell everyone that you intend to go on sabbatical leave. Because it may give your colleague ideas about taking a break and if lots of employees start asking for sabbaticals leave, no one is likely to get one.

Step 4: Arrange a meeting with your employer or HR to discuss your sabbatical leave.

Step 4: Arrange a meeting with your employer or HR to discuss your sabbatical leave.

The next step is meeting your manager, HR or director. Think about what questions they might ask you, write them down and make sure you have the right answers.

Make your proposal to take a sabbatical leave. Tell your manager the benefits of taking a break and how this will impact the organisation positively. If not, try to negotiate a deal with your employer.

Step 5: Leave respectfully & Be flexible

You should leave the meeting respectfully and formally whether or not you get a sabbatical leave. If your employer allows you a sabbatical leave, complete the necessary paperwork and return it to the appropriate parties.

Before you take a sabbatical, make sure you know what you need to do, what benefits you will be missing, and what you will continue in your absence.

So, work with your employer to ensure that the company or the employer will not suffer while you are on leave.

Step 6: Organise your farewell party and start packing!

What will you need to do afterwards?

It will be great for your career if you prepare yourself and set your goals beforehand. At the end of your sabbatical leave, the following tips can help and prepare you to take advantage of your career breaks later in your career:

  • Update your CV. You should include any courses, qualifications and experiences you’ve had, such as volunteering, which may help you during your search.
  • Think about the best way- how you can sell the benefits of your extended leave to a potential employer.
  • If you want to change your career path, think about how you can build on your sabbatical leave experience to make the perfect move.
  • List the contacts you have made during your sabbatical leave, whom you could speak later to about work opportunities or collaboration.

Here are some courses you can take to improve your professional skills with One Education while you are on sabbatical leave. 

Find Your Ideal Course Today
One Education courses cover core competencies and skills across all subject areas, Taught by expert instructors, CPD Accredited courses, 24/7 support, Self-paced learning from any device.

Closing note

The feelings of sabbatical leave can be fulfilling, scary, and unique. It takes determination, courage, and a supportive employer to make it happen. Taking a leave from work for an extended time could be the best thing you ever do and for your career.

What are you waiting for? Take a break from work to fulfil your interest or dreams and recharge your mind and body. Cheers!

April 26, 2021

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