Employee Sabbatical Leave: All You Need to Know

Taking a sabbatical leave from work can do wonders for employees and organizations. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at different aspects of sabbatical leave.

Employee Sabbatical leave is a period during which a person does not report to their job but is still employed by their company. Sabbatical leave is taken by employees who want to pursue personal interests, such as studying, traveling, and volunteering. Sabbaticals can be paid or unpaid but are specifically just extended periods of leave.

What is sabbatical leave from work? A definition

A sabbatical leave is a period in which an employee in a company takes an extended break from work. The reasons for taking a sabbatical can vary from pursuing a degree or working on a personal project to volunteering, upgrading himself/herself, or spending more time with family.

A sabbatical leave from work is different from other types of leaves as it usually lasts longer, anywhere between a month to a couple of years — and that companies usually only grant a sabbatical to employees who have been with the company for a certain period. As such, the sabbatical can be seen as a type of employee benefit.

Why is sabbatical leave important?

  1. Less stress — According to a study conducted in a university, those who went on sabbatical experienced less stress at work upon their return.
  2. Increased psychological resources — The same study found that the people who came back from a sabbatical leave benefited from an increase in psychological resources such as health, a sense of control, energy, and even more professional knowledge.
  3. Increased well being — As expected, the above led to an increase in the wellbeing of those who enjoyed an extended break from work, especially if they spent their sabbatical outside their home country.
  4. Employer Brand — The ‘sabbatical option’ is a nice perk, not only for current employees but also for candidates. It shows people that you care about your workforce and that you reward loyalty. Of course, a sabbatical program won’t be the number one reason candidates choose to work for you, but it can make a difference when a candidate compares one company to another.

What should a sabbatical leave policy look like?

While sabbatical policies will differ from one company to another, each company should consider some basic issues, including:

  • If the sabbatical leave will be a break from work, where the employee can do what they want or if it will be for a specific reason, such as volunteering or studying.
  • How long an employee should work for the company before they qualify for sabbatical leave (a basic rule of thumb for paid sabbaticals is a minimum of 1 year).
  • Whether paid sabbatical will count towards the minimum working period.
  • How often employees will be allowed to take sabbatical leave.
  • If all employees will be eligible for the sabbatical or only certain roles.
  • Whether the period for sabbatical eligibility will start from when eligible employees were hired or when they reached the eligible position or even after a certain amount of time spent working.
  • If the sabbatical leave will be provided at the full or partial salary and, if at partial salary, how much it will be or what percentage will it be of the main salary.
  • What guidelines should be put in place for employees to request sabbatical leave?

Key elements of Sabbatical Leave

Who is eligible for a sabbatical leave? Some companies want to use a sabbatical as a way to reward the employees for their loyalty. Employees usually become eligible for a sabbatical leave after they’ve spent a certain period with the company.

How long does a sabbatical last? Can people take three months off? Or a year? Does it depend on how long they’ve been working for the company? What’s the maximum duration that the employees can go on a sabbatical leave?

Is the sabbatical paid or unpaid? This will probably depend on the length of the sabbatical. Some companies decide to pay a certain percentage of people’s salary when they’re on sabbatical leave, while others pay full salaries and some organizations decide not to pay.
If, for instance, an employee wants to take a year to get a (master’s, Ph.D., or other) degree, companies can consider this an investment in their development and, as such, cover the employee’s expenses.

What’s the purpose of the sabbatical leave? Most of the time the purpose of sabbatical leave for employees will be something along the lines of ‘self-development’ or ‘the opportunity to pursue personal interests’.


Sabbaticals can come in many different forms. But whether they last six weeks or a year, and whether they’re spent pursuing a degree or for a vacation taking these factors into account, one can decide whether to grant the sabbatical to their employee or not. It can have a very positive impact on both employees and organizations.

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