sabbatical leave

Sabbatical Leave: Everything You Need To Know

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If you’re anything like us, you’d love to take a break from constantly working to go explore every crook and corner of Europe. Maybe run off to an exotic island for a couple of months. Write a book. Meditate under a waterfall. The options are endless. So if you’re a hard worker looking for a way to relax and have some fun while also advancing your career, a sabbatical leave is just what you need.

What is a sabbatical leave?

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. With a sabbatical leave, you can pursue all your personal interests while not having to worry about the effect it’ll have on your job. In other words, a sabbatical leave is a period where an employee doesn’t officially work for their company but is continued to be employed by them. The official definition of a sabbatical, according to Wikipedia, is a lengthy, intentional break from one’s career.

The benefits of a sabbatical leave

Sabbaticals are fun because they allow you to do things you’ve always wanted to do, but never had time for.

Whether it’s traveling or learning a new skill, it’ll get your creative juices flowing and help you develop a greater appreciation for everything you have. Sabbatical leaves can help employees refresh themselves and gain new perspectives to bring back into the workplace.

A sabbatical can also be used as a form of professional development for an employee who is on leave. They may choose to use this time to seek further education, training in their chosen field, or engage in research. Sabbatical leaves are more common in educational institutions. A professor, for example, might spend a semester or two at a foreign university or do research in their field. Its other benefits include:

  • Reduced stress: This one is a no-brainer. In a study conducted by university professors, it was discovered that those who went on a sabbatical experienced less stress when they came back.
  • Increased well-being: Another no-brainer. Taking a sabbatical hugely contributes to one’s well-being, especially if they spend it outside of their home country.
  • Added perk: Employers also benefit when employees take sabbaticals. By advertising a sabbatical to potential employees, you can create a work culture that places an emphasis on work-life balance. And in the world of remote work, this employee benefit is sure to draw some eyes.
  • Employee retention: Some larger corporations also offer sabbatical leave as an employee benefit for people who have worked for a specific number of years with the firm. A sense of excitement during their tenure at the company contributes to employee retention.

How to create a sabbatical leave policy

Although the policy differs from company to company, employers should consider several basic factors when deciding their sabbatical policy, including:

Determine employee eligibility

The eligibility for granting a sabbatical must include looking into details like the employee’s tenure of job, performance, work attendance, discipline, and how much of an asset the employee is to the company. After all, sabbaticals are expensive and aren’t meant for everyone. It’s important to remember that these breaks are usually taken by an established employee and are given as a reward for their good performance. 

Sabbatical leave is generally granted to employees who have been employed for a minimum of five years.

Set the duration

3 months. 6 months. A whole year. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Most companies set the duration of sabbatical leaves based on their internal policies. There are always debates on the time allotted to sabbatical leaves in organizations. But just like views on PTO, the issue comes down to each employee’s and company’s personal situation. 

How badly do they need it? How long can your company afford to send the employee on a break? Who will replace their duties and responsibilities? Will you recruit another employee to replace them? These are all factors you should consider when setting a duration for your company’s sabbatical.

Define the purpose or end goal

Many companies require employees to fill out an itinerary to describe exactly what they’re going to do during their break. They’re gonna have a lot of free time — so how are they going to utilize it? There is no right or wrong answer. However, the purpose of taking a sabbatical should be clear from the employee’s end. 

It is important to be upfront about the purpose of their time off – whether they want to recharge, pursue higher education, travel, learn a new skill, or volunteer. Sabbaticals are more likely to get approved when they resonate with a company’s purpose or align with their work culture.

Paid or unpaid?

Undoubtedly one of the most important things to consider is whether the sabbatical will be paid or unpaid. Paid leaves usually include a percentage, if not all of the employee’s normal salary. Other forms of payment are also accepted — like tuition reimbursement in the case of education, flight tickets for travel, etc.

In the case of unpaid sabbaticals, employees may have certain restrictions (like not doing other forms of paid work.) In the case of self-funded sabbaticals, employees are usually happy to take the leave even without pay with the assurance that they have a job to come back to.

Taking a sabbatical is a great way to recharge your batteries. But like any long-term vacation, pre-planning is required, both on your and your employer’s end.

Keeping in mind the factors we’ve written about sabbatical leaves and their benefits, we’re certain a sabbatical leave is going to be on everyone’s minds within the next few years. Good luck planning yours!