Though similar in nature, sabbaticals differ greatly from career breaks. For one, they’re a period of absence mutually agreed upon by employee and employer. Also, you’re assured of a position at the company upon your return, since sabbaticals don’t require resignation. On the flip side, a career break often means handing in your notice prior to leaving. Here’s our take on this much-misunderstood aspect of the employment world…
Sabbatical leave denotes anything from a few months to a few years, depending on your position and length of time at the company. If you feel like you need a period away from work, but don’t want to compromise future job security, take a look at your contract for any conditions covering sabbatical. In the interest of honesty, consider disclosing what you plan to do with the time off, as well as any benefits your employer can enjoy by preserving your role. This will create open communication between the two of you that helps you part on good terms. However, if you face resistance and find reference to sabbatical in your terms of employment – or precedent for other staff receiving it – you’re well within your rights to challenge a ‘no’.
The benefits of sabbaticals aren’t just personal, they’re professional. Where some employers may view extended time off in a negative light, others are more practical. From volunteer work and short courses to freelancing and learning new languages, you can achieve a lot while on leave, ensuring you return both upskilled and re-energised. There’s also the financial angle: by not having you on the books, your employer reduces salary spend; by taking you back, they don’t have to invest in a fresh hire.
Whatever route you decide to take, make sure you leave with a written confirmation of everyone’s expectations. This will prove invaluable if you come up against any friction, so you can spend your time off safe in the knowledge there’s a clear plan for your return.
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