Sabbaticals are periods of paid or unpaid time away from work which are agreed between the employer and employee. One of the key points to be agreed on is whether the employment contract remains in place during the sabbatical.

Historically sabbaticals have been a benefit for employees. They are agreed for a variety of reasons including rewarding long service, travel, research or acquiring new skills, voluntary work, alleviating stress and burn out or to take care of health. In current times the motivation behind sabbaticals may be more for the employer’s benefit to provide alternatives to redundancy.

Businesses that have not yet returned to previous activity levels due to COVID-19 may be contemplating redundancies and potential alternatives. Employers affected by the downturn can offer unpaid sabbaticals instead of redundancies. Employees may agree to take a sabbatical if the alternative is being made redundant, especially until the COVID-19 risks further reduce. Sabbaticals are one method of reducing salary overheads while preserving valued employees and overall morale.

DISCLAIMER: The materials in this guidance are provided for general information purposes and do not constitute legal or other professional advice. While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances may impact the accuracy and validity of the information. The CIPD is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for any action or decision taken as a result of using the guidance. You should consult a professional adviser for legal or other advice where appropriate.

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