On this page
- The benefit and purpose of sabbaticals
- Differences between unpaid leave and career breaks
- What the law says
- Status of employment contracts during sabbaticals
- HR’s role
- Content of sabbatical agreements and policies
- Common issues
- Four key points for HR to remember on sabbatical policies and managing the process
Sabbaticals are periods of paid or unpaid time away from work which are agreed between the employer and employee. Sabbaticals have grown in popularity, especially since the pandemic, related to increasing employee preferences for flexible working. While sabbaticals used to be for employees to take a break from work, they are now recognised as a recruitment and retention tool. Therefore, it is worthwhile having a sabbatical policy in place to deal with different types of requests fairly and consistently.
Key considerations for employers offering sabbaticals are:
- What the purpose of the sabbatical will be. Short-term sabbaticals tend to have few conditions attached to them, whereas longer term sabbaticals, especially when they are paid, may require the delivery of work-related objectives.
- What the conditions of the sabbatical will be, and specifically whether the sabbatical will be paid. Schemes range from full pay for an agreed period, to a percentage of pay, and unpaid sabbaticals or career breaks. A related consideration is whether the employment contract will remain in place during the sabbatical.
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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