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What is Sabbatical Leave?

Employers provide various types of leaves to the employees, like medical leaves, paid time off, etc. One of the rare times off that some institutions offer is known as a sabbatical.

Here's what this article will cover:

  1. What is a Sabbatical?
  2. What are the benefits of taking a sabbatical?
  3. For how long can you take a sabbatical leave?
  4. Is sabbatical leave paid or unpaid?
  5. Sabbatical leave policy
  6. What can you do on sabbatical?
  7. How can you take a sabbatical from work?
  8. The Effect of a Sabbatical on your Life
  9. Preparing to Take a Sabbatical
  10. Career benefits of Sabbatical

What is a sabbatical?

What was once an extremely famous term in academia is now a common form of leave in all professions. It might be a way to escape from burnout or a chance to explore new options in the professional sphere, or even an opportunity to rethink the entire career path. A sabbatical is an extended break that provides individuals with a chance to pursue different paths of their interest.

Since the organization still employs a person on a sabbatical, they are bound by the policies of the organization even during their break.

What are the benefits of taking a sabbatical?

The benefits of going on a sabbatical are plenty. You return to work more rejuvenated and better capable of dealing with challenges.  

  • Taking a sabbatical can help boost your productivity and creativity.
  • It can also help regain your work-life balance that may have been lost.
  • You can take this to work on your skills- either personal or professional.
  • It is also a great opportunity to begin a journey of self-discovery that lets you explore various options in life. 
  • It is normal for people to get second thoughts about the path that they are on. A sabbatical could work in their favor by giving them a chance to refocus and find out if they feel completely secure in their choices. 
  • People coming back from sabbaticals are often excited to get back to work and put the skills that they honed during that time period to use.

For how long can you take a sabbatical leave?

The timing of your sabbatical leave will depend entirely on the policy laid down by your employer. Usually, it lasts somewhere between a few months to a couple of years. 

Some employers provide a paid sabbatical option, but it is usually shorter than an unpaid one. The employee has to meet some specific criteria to be eligible for a paid sabbatical.

Is sabbatical leave paid or unpaid?

The decision is made by the organization providing the sabbatical. Some employers offer paid leave with a full salary, while some offer a fixed percentage of this salary. Others provide an unpaid break from work. 

Sabbatical leave policy

If you are an employer looking to introduce a formal sabbatical leave policy in your organization, you need to lay down clear rules for what qualifies as sabbatical leave. It could be for a specific reason, such as volunteering or taking a break from work to do what they like. Some organizations only provide a sabbatical for a specific time period after becoming eligible.

Provide clear guidelines for who is eligible to take a sabbatical and whether it will be paid by your organization or not. The eligibility criteria could be the number of years the employee has worked for you or any other thing that you deem fit. Other aspects that you need to pay attention to include-

  • How should the employee apply for the sabbatical?
  • What will be the criteria for the evaluation of their request?
  • The employee�s obligations towards the organization
  • Matters pertaining to their pay, employee benefits, or contract

For employees looking to take a sabbatical from work, make sure that you go through the company�s leave policy thoroughly.  

What can you do on sabbatical?

Being on a sabbatical opens a world of countless opportunities for you. Everything that you have been putting off because things were too hectic at work can finally be done without any guilt of compromising with your work.

  • Whatever you choose to do during the sabbatical, it is an excellent opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate yourself. You can use this time to detach from work and spend time doing things that you enjoy.
  • If there is a side project that has always been in the back of your mind, but you never had the opportunity to do something about it, you can use the sabbatical to work on it. Your passion project could be anything from writing a book or starting your own business.
  • You finally get the time to learn the language that you have always wanted or work on any other skill that could open more avenues for you in the future.
  • Being on a sabbatical is a great time to expand your network. Whether it�s by traveling the world together or being enrolled in a course, you meet new people and get a chance to engage with professionals from various walks of life.
  • A lot of people utilize their sabbatical from work to cross off items from their bucket lists. This could include adventurous travel around the world. 
  • If you aspire to give something back to the world, you can use your sabbatical to volunteer for any cause that you think is worthy of your time. When you do something impactful for society, you will return to work more contented and satisfied. 
  • Is there a course unrelated to work that you have always been interested in but could never find the time for? A sabbatical is a perfect opportunity to take it.
  • The educational possibilities of a sabbatical are endless. You can take this time to take up a next-level education. 
  • If you are rethinking your career path, a sabbatical year work can be a good idea. You will get the time to make up your mind and train for a new career. 

How can you take a sabbatical from work?

  1. Make up your mind- Taking a sabbatical is better than quitting your job. It involves less risk and provides various other benefits. Ensure that your mind has been made up before you request the sabbatical. 
  2. Be prepared- Before you go to your employer with the request, make sure that you are prepared with all the aspects of planning a sabbatical. This includes figuring out how to take sabbatical from work, planning a budget, and allocating your finances accordingly. You also need to find out details about your company�s sabbatical policy and find out all the requirements you need to fulfill to be eligible for the leave. 
  3. Talk to your employer- You need to let your employer know how this sabbatical from work will be beneficial for you and the company in the long run. You have to prepare a strong pitch to convince the employer. Ask in advance- It is important that you give your employer enough time to make arrangements for when you are away. This is why you need to ask the employer well in advance.
  4. Leave on good terms- Even if your employer denies your request and you have to quit, make sure that you leave respectfully. This ensures that you still have a chance of getting rehired in case you decide to come back to work. 
  5. Be flexible- Although it is better to have a plan in place, make sure that you are willing to make some adjustments according to the employer to ensure that your request is accepted. 
  6. Don�t brag- As much as you want to, avoid bragging about your sabbatical in front of coworkers.
  7. Find a compromise- You need to find common ground by discussing the idea with your employer. Figure out a situation that works well for both of you. 
  8. Highlight the positives- While requesting the sabbatical, prepare what you are going to say beforehand. Instead of complaining about being burnt out, focus on how you are going to utilize the time for your betterment and how it will be beneficial for the employer in the long run
  9. .Make sure that you get it in writing if the employer grants you a sabbatical. Include details such as the salary you will be paid during the break and the role you will provide after your return.

The Effect of a Sabbatical on your Life

The timing of your sabbatical has to be well-planned. Ask yourself if you think you are on the right career path or if the break will set you back. If you think that you will be able to pick right from where you are leaving, you can take a sabbatical.  

  • A chance to explore new options- A sabbatical can help you make up your mind about the career path that you are on. It will help you decide if you are doing what you want and are on the right path or not.
  • Increased income- If you use the time off for your educational advancement, taking a sabbatical will provide you an opportunity to earn more after returning back to work. The more qualified you are, the better will be your earning prospects.
  • Gain a new perspective on life- Not only does this break work well to prevent people from burnout, but it also provides them a new direction in life. They have the opportunity to assess their life choices and make the changes that they always wished they had.

Preparing to Take a Sabbatical

  • Financial preparation- You need to plan out your finances in advance if you wish to go on a sabbatical. Whether you plan to go on an international trip, or staying at home, figure out the total cost and find out if you have enough saved up to cover these costs. If you have some people who are dependent on you, figure out if you have enough to care for them while being on the sabbatical.
  • Benefits- Find out if the benefits that your employer offers would be suspended during the sabbatical. Find out if you can avail your employer�s health or traveler insurance while you are on the sabbatical.

Career benefits of Sabbatical

  • Freshen up- To prevent burnout and to keep yourself motivated and excited for work; you can opt for a sabbatical. It will help you feel rejuvenated and more capable of handling responsibilities.
  • Give back to society- A sabbatical can not only be an opportunity to improve your professional skills but also a chance to make a real difference in society by volunteering for a cause you deem worthy.
  • Get more experience-Learning a new skill or just traveling around will provide you with enriching experiences that will be helpful once you get back to work.
  • Introduction to new cultures- Using the sabbatical to travel and getting exposed to newer cultures makes you a more learned and knowledgeable individual.
  • Educational advancement- Utilizing the sabbatical to get educated is going to provide better opportunities to you in the future.
  • Improved health- Detaching from work and taking some time for yourself is proven to be beneficial for your overall health. 
  • Safer- It is obvious that taking a sabbatical is far safer than quitting. It has various costs covered and provides job security as well.
  • Increased productivity- Stepping away from work for some time will help you come back as a more focused and productive employee.
  • Take some stress off your mind- When you take some time off for yourself, you will come back to work feeling more refreshed. This will make you ready for bigger and tougher challenges.
  • Network- A sabbatical is a great opportunity to connect and engage with people to expand your network. 

Only you can decide if a sabbatical is a right choice for you and when is the right time to take it. Weigh all the factors that might affect your quality of life or have implications on your career before you take off. It can be an extremely enriching opportunity for those who wish to expand their skill set or tick off things from their bucket lists before they are too old. It is also a great way to go on a journey of personal discovery that can help you form a better understanding of your own self.

Last updated on: 
October 26, 2023

Dipen Dadhaniya

Engineering Manager at Interview Kickstart

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