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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical, or sabbatical leave, is when an employee takes a long holiday or extended period of leisure time away from work while still remaining on the company payroll.

Sabbaticals are usually offered to employees who have worked in the business for several years.

Sabattical definition

Sabbatical leave is the name given to an extended period of holiday or time away from work, while remaining employed and typically continuing to be paid. This leave is usually offered as a benefit to long-standing employees and allows them to achieve personal goals or enjoy time off to combat burnout without jeopardizing their careers. 

How long does a sabbatical last?

The amount of time the employee is on their sabbatical leave is at the discretion of their employer. However, according to The Sabbatical Guide, a typical sabbatical lasts around three months to a year.

The length of a sabbatical may also depend on the reason an employee chooses to take this employment break. If they are leaving to take a course or further their training as part of an upskilling or reskilling effort, the sabbatical may last the length of these studies.

Likewise, if they are leaving to take a trip or to travel the sabbatical period may match the length of this trip.

As mentioned above, sabbatical leave is often paid as this makes it a much more attractive benefit. The amount of salary an employee receives during their sabbatical depends on their employer. In some cases, the employee may receive full pay during this time. 

However, they can also receive a smaller percentage of their salary which has been accrued over the period of time that they have worked at the business. This can mean that the employee works full time for a reduced amount of money, and then uses this saved money as pay during their sabbatical. 

Whether a sabbatical is paid or not also can depend on the business location. Unpaid sabbaticals, for example, are much more common in the UK than paid sabbaticals, according to reed.co.uk

Why offer a sabbatical?

Sabbaticals are a great perk to offer to employees for three major reasons, which are as follows.

  • Reduced risk of burnout

    As employees will be taking an extended break from their working responsibilities, their risk of overworking and burnout will decrease dramatically. This means your employee will return typically feeling refreshed and productive with a renewed drive for their role.

  • Decreased turnover rate

    One of the reasons employees may leave their position in your company is to pursue a goal that could have been achieved during a sabbatical. Whether this is travelling or studying, offering them this time off without terminating their employment reduces your employee turnover, cuts your hiring costs, and will most probably increase their future loyalty and commitment to the company.

  • Employer branding

    Although sabbaticals are becoming increasingly popular, they are still not the norm in most workplaces. Offering this as a benefit not only looks great on your career page but will surely drum up referral interest when your employees chat to their network about their sabbatical leave, which is also great for your employer branding.

For more information on interesting employee benefits and perks, take a look at our blog articles on employee benefits and unlimited vacation policy.

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