It’s the time of year when parents count the days until their offspring go back to school (if they haven’t already). Soon, students will start gearing up for Fresher’s Week and your teacher friends start posting their countdown to half-term on their Facebook statuses – we get, you have lots of holidays! It’s also the time of year when we start to get a bit wistful about summer holidays.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to just pack in work and go on an adventure?! Maybe you’d like to go live in France and learn the language, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, or visit family and friends in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore or South Africa. Of course, you could book annual leave to do that, but these are the type of thing that usually require more than the “14 consecutive days” that most companies restrict leave to. Quitting your job and heading into the sunset is great, unless you’d like your job back after the experience is over.  So, how about a sabbatical?

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Don’t forget to spam your friends with photos of your adventure!


In the immortal words of Friends, Ross: I’m not unemployed, I’m on sabbatical! Joey: Hey, don’t get all religious on me.

Ok, sabbatical isn’t a religious experience, it’s time away from your work duties for study, reflection or gaining new skills. Technically, its paid leave, but you have to be able to prove that you’re doing something for your personal and professional development. It’s usually something that academics and clergy-people do, but if you’re neither, there’s nothing to say that you can’t do it too – providing your employer agrees. 

A sabbatical could involve studying Spanish in Barcelona, completing a term at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris or moving into the British Library to research a paper on your specialist subject. If this is the sort of thing that takes your fancy, and you can convince your boss that it will make you better at your job, you can start planning that trip!

Extended Leave

If you can’t convince HR to grant a sabbatical, consider extended leave. This involves requesting a long holiday from your employer, anything from 3 weeks or more. If you want to go on 21 night cruise of the Mediterranean, build a school in Guatemala or go look after your sister after she has her knee replaced, consider asking for extended leave. Some companies will let you bank unused holiday for just in this situation, others let you “buy” annual leave from other employees who don’t use it. Check the policy where you work. 

Career Break

If you’re after a longer break from work, and still can’t convince your employer that your ski season in Whistler is for the good of the company, opt for a career break. The bad news is, this one’s unpaid. The good news (if you love your job) is, your job will be there when you get back! There are no laws that specify what your employer’s responsibilities are during a career break, and the policy varies from place to place, but in general, it can be anything from three months to five years.  So, if your partner is seconded to Miami and you want to go with, you fancy going back to university to get an MA or you’d like to do some voluntary work, ask your HR department about a career break. 

What are you waiting for?!

You’ll need to apply in writing for any of these breaks, and the more notice you give, the better your chances. Get planning now and this time next year, you could be packing your bags for that big adventure!

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