In theatrical or traditional terms, a sabbatical involves a break from work. The employer based on a mutually agreed-upon time period usually grants the leave period. However, not all sabbaticals go by the norms. Usually, the leave period should be a minimum of two months (less than that is more of a leave). The sabbatical period can be paid or unpaid, which depends on a lot of factors like employee tenure, position, accumulated leave, etc.

On the whole, taking a sabbatical implies that the employee?s position would be held for the stipulated period. At the end of the sabbatical, the employer lets the employee come back to work. Although it comes from a biblical term from ancient Hebrew, taking a sabbatical in the true sense has gained popularity only in recent decades.

Who takes sabbaticals?

There could be umpteen reasons for an employee to take a sabbatical

  1. It may be for furthering their studies.
  2. For medical purposes, especially for long-term recovery/ care.
  3. Personal reasons for spending time with the family or rethinking your options.

Putting together an action plan

Getting a sabbatical is not that difficult anymore with employers understanding the need for striking a work-life balance. Here are a few things that you need to plan for before asking for a sabbatical-

Why do you need one?

Ask yourself, do you really think a sabbatical or taking an extended vacation could solve the purpose? In other cases, asking for flexible work hours or the option to work from home may prove lucrative.

The funds

Most sabbaticals are unpaid. So a lot of financial planning is essential. How long are you considering a sabbatical for? Do you have enough funds to sustain that period, including a substantial sum for emergencies? Also remember, once you rejoin you would be paid only at the end of the month. So, taking a sabbatical that burns a deep hole in your pocket may not be the best thing to do.

An exception here is if you have an alternate source of income or intend to do some other work during the sabbatical.

Duration of the sabbatical

While ideally sabbaticals last from 2-6 months, there are some who may seek a duration of up to two years also. However, an extended sabbatical would only make the transition back to work more difficult for you. While some employers don?t really revel in or seem pleased with the idea of sabbaticals, there?s a drastic change in this perspective. Many employers now show a keen interest in why employees took a break, what their experiences were and how it helped them.

Approaching your employer

Once you have things planned from your end, it is time to approach your employer. A lot of persuasion and convincing could be required. An especially detailed plan will go into the work schedule. You can let your employer know the reason for your sabbatical and the duration for the same. Ideas on who could fill in for you and how much of the work can be planned during your absence could be worked out too.

Will you get the approval?

No one can answer that but your employer. There?s a chance you may not be granted one and could be asked to quit ? they may reconsider or ask you to reapply later.

Think about what?s at stake ? and if you really feel you need this sabbatical, then the risk of losing a job shouldn?t stop you from taking one.

Jappreet Sethi