Adult Gap Year: What You Need to Know about a Sabbatical

Have you been thinking about taking a sabbatical? 

Everybody has had difficult times at work. Sometimes, we have to deal with hard issues or just get exhausted because we work too much. In such a situation, valuable employees usually just force themselves to work, understanding that they don’t want to miss their job. Is there any other option available? The truth is, you can just take a break.

Sabbaticals are nothing new in the academic world. Scholars often need to devote more time to some complex issues, so they take some time off, being able to forget about their everyday routine for a while and focus on their project or research. During this time, they can also visit another university or attend courses, with no need to worry about losing their job. According to research, academics who take advantage of sabbaticals are more satisfied with their job and get stressed out less often. Perhaps, the idea of asking your boss for such a favor looks strange, but the truth is that many modern companies offer such an option.

The Definition of a Sabbatical 

A sabbatical is a certain period of time off (usually, 3-12 months), approved by an employer. Sometimes, employees take more time off (e.g. a few years), but these breaks are called ‘career breaks,’ and they require an employee to resign from the current job, which means that there’s no guarantee of coming back. Sabbaticals are different from career breaks, as they are a result of an employee-employer agreement. Therefore, the employee doesn’t need to worry about losing his or her job.

Most often, sabbaticals are unpaid, however, there are also many exceptions from this rule. For instance, academic sabbaticals are usually paid, depending on how valuable this time is for the institution. As for the business companies, they usually have different policies regarding this issue. Although companies may offer different terms, most companies will not approve a sabbatical if an employee has demonstrated poor performance or attendance, has a bad disciplinary record, or if there’s no one who could cover their role.

Advantages of a Sabbatical

First, you may benefit from a sabbatical if you have some health problems. You will have enough time to focus on your health so that you can return with more energy, and with no need to sacrifice your well-being. Another common reason why employees think of taking a sabbatical is job burnout — when you’re exhausted, you cannot be productive so it may be better for a company to let you recover and come back.

You can use a sabbatical to learn something new and to improve your skills. Perhaps, you don’t have enough time for some personal goals. In this case, a sabbatical is a great solution. It may also help employees who feel stuck at the current job and don’t see any opportunities for further career development. A sabbatical can win some time to reconsider priorities and, perhaps, find other opportunities on the job market.

What to Consider Before Taking a Sabbatical

What phase of your career are you in?

If you’re just starting your career in the company, you certainly need to weigh all the possible consequences of a sabbatical. If you decide that you want to leave anyway, keep in mind that the career growth may take more time and effort after you return. Your boss may also think that you’re not committed enough.

On the other hand, if you’ve achieved what you wanted and earned a good reputation in the company, a sabbatical can be a great opportunity to consider all the available options.

What if you need just a nice holiday?

Sometimes we get too stressed out and exhausted, and when it happens, we can be not really good at decision-making. What if you just need to take a vacation and spend some time on a beautiful beach, drinking margaritas? Such a relaxing setting can also help you look at your situation from a different angle and make a better decision.

Do you have enough money?

An unpaid sabbatical can turn into a challenge for your budget so you need to have some savings.

How fast does your industry change?

When you come back to your job, you shouldn’t lag behind. For example, the IT industry is evolving all the time, and you may miss a lot during a few months of a sabbatical.

How to Prepare and Take a Sabbatical

  1. Prepare a pitch
    Before you tell anyone about your plans to take a sabbatical, you should clearly understand why do you need it and what you’re going to do. ‘Sabbatical’ is a strong word, so if you mention it when talking to your boss, you should have some solid arguments.
  2. Meet your manager
    Think of what questions you may be asked and write down a few answers. You should be prepared for this meeting. Keep in mind that your manager may not agree on the timing of your sabbatical but it doesn’t mean that you cannot take it for a shorter period of time. You should also explain what are the benefits of your sabbatical for the company — how it will impact your productivity or how it may help you work on important projects.
  3. Use different opportunities
    You can help your boss understand that having some time off is your priority. For example, if your boss is impressed by your performance and offers you a bonus or raise, you can ask for a sabbatical instead. In this case, your request will look absolutely fair.
  4. Stay involved
    Stay in touch with your coworkers during your sabbatical. Contact them from time to time so that they won’t forget about you. In addition, you should keep working on your skills. Take some courses or find on a small freelance project.


A common thing in the academic world, sabbaticals become more and more popular in different industries. Companies see sabbaticals as an opportunity to retain valuable employees, while the latter can use their time off to not only take a break from everyday stresses but also to plan their further career and to grow professionally. The most important thing is to prepare for your sabbatical, having a clear plan and understanding why do you need it.

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About the Author
Ester Brierley is a QA Engineer in software outsourcing company and a competent virtual assistant for, but thinking about her own entrepreneurial journey. As a seasoned content creator, she adores researching cutting-edge digital and lifestyle trends and sharing them in her writing pieces. Follow her on Twitter.


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