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Is a sabbatical just what your career needs?

Many people every year take a sabbatical from their job in order to improve themselves.

While the ideal age to go on an extended break is during your late 30s, graduates in their first few years of employment eager to see the world and learn new things will be tempted to take a break. Find out below just what exactly sabbatical leave is and how you can benefit from one.

What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical (derived from the biblical term “sabbath”) is a period of absence from work agreed upon by an employer that can last anywhere from a couple of months to a year. There are many reasons why someone might want to take sabbatical leave, including to recharge the batteries, develop new skills, go travelling or return to work with a fresh perspective on things.

The Benefits of Sabbatical Leave

Extended leave offers a range of benefits to employees in the academic and commercial world.

• The major benefit is how rejuvenated you'll feel when you return to work. Everyone experiences that “burnt-out” feeling at some point in their careers – even during the early days – so recharging the batteries and rediscovering that motivation will stand you in good stead in the long term.

• Sometimes it feels like work can take over your personal life as well. A long break will allow you to concentrate on your personal goals such as planning for the future, improving your health, rediscovering friendships or developing a new hobby.

• Long breaks also offer you the chance to explore new career paths and retrain. You might be inspired to do this after seeing a job opportunity online, or your current position simply isn't as fulfilling as you'd like it to be.

• Helping out in the community is another benefit that deserves a special mention. Many companies will allow you to take up volunteer work for certain days of the week in order to do this, and it can be a really rewarding experience.

You Rights with Regards to Sabbaticals

While a long break from work offers a great opportunity to take stock and recharge, employers are under no obligation to provide employees with one. If an employer needs all hands on deck, then being forced to allow someone to have extended time off would be detrimental to the company. It's important to check your company's policy on these matters as they are obliged to make these things clear. When you decide to take leave of absence, you and your employer must agree on the rules concerning pay and the length of time off. During a sabbatical, you're required to keep in touch with your employer according to the agreements set out.

How to Go About Asking Your Employer for an Extended Break

Asking your employer for sabbatical leave should be a carefully considered course of action. The first thing to do is to make sure you're serious about the reasons for taking an extended period off. Then plan how you're going to prepare for sabbatical leave. When it comes time to approach your boss, spell out the reasons why this can help yourself and the company rather than concentrating on just yourself. Lastly, give plenty of notice so you can minimise the effect this will have on your employer and thus maintain a good relationship.