June 13, 2013 @ 6:25 pm - posted by Liz

Career breaks or Sabbaticals are more popular now than ever before,  but where do you stand with your company on career break policy and career break law & legislation.

Today’s generation question why they should follow in their parent’s footsteps of ‘work all your life, retire and then die’.  There’s a new breed of people who want to live a fuller life.  These people are adventurists, entrepreneurs and the future of this country.  That’s why it’s even more disappointing that there’s still no legal framework in the UK.

Career Break Policy

So with no formal legislation, what are you going to do?  Forward thinking companies that recognise career breaks and sabbaticals will have a written career break policy.


Career Break and sabbatical change of direction


Firstly, check out if the company has a career break or sabbatical policy, which is usually found in the HR handbook.  This will tell you the companies guiding principles.  If your company doesn’t have a career break policy, don’t stress, lot’s of companies still don’t.

Secondly, find out if anyone else in your company has taken a career break or sabbatical and get the details.  What did they do during this time? how long was it for?  What did they give back to the company?  Did they get paid or was it classed as a ‘break in employment?’

Thirdly consider what your position in the company is.  If you’re a valued employee you’re  more likely to receive a positive response.

So now that you know the companies views it’s time to start preparing your proposal.

10 Career Break Proposal tips

If you walk into your bosses office and say ‘give me a break’ without planning what you’re going to say, the chances are your boss will say no.  Plan your proposal like you would any other business proposal.


Career Break & Sabbatical Diary


Here’s a few things to think about.

  1. Always plan to get paid during your break.  If you don’t ask, you wont get….
  2. Know why you deserve this break.  If you’ve been working really hard on a project and feeling burned out, will you need a break that’s more than a couple of weeks so you can recharge the batteries and get your inspiration back.
  3. How will this time benefit both you and your company.  Your company will want to know how this time is going to benefit them.
  4. Be able to explain your companies career breaks policy if there is one, the chances are that your boss won’t know.
  5. Be able to tell your boss about previous requests that have been approved
  6. Identify any problems your absence may cause and prepare suggestions as to how these can be alleviated or resolved in advance.
  7.  Come up with a strategy on how your workload will be managed while you’re away.
  8. The timing of your break.  If you’re taking a few months off, plan your break around the quieter times.  If the busiest period is between April to July, they’re less likely to approve time off at this time, however if work slows between November and February, youre request is likely to be viewed more favourably at this time.
  9. Think about how long you’ve worked there for.  If you’ve only worked there a year they may say no, if it’s been years then they’re more likely to say yes
  10. Know how flexible your’e prepared to be, what you’re not prepared to negotiate on and what you’re going to do if you don’t get what you want.


 Congratulations, Your Career Break is Approved

They’ve said yes.  Great.  Now you need to get the terms in writing and I don’t mean a three line e-mail saying they’ve approved it.

Neither you or your company want any ambiguity as this may create nasty surprises.  You may want to talk to employment solicitor about this.

One of the most important things to clarify is whether they consider it a break in your employment.

 What is a break in employment?

A break in employment means you won’t be entitled to employee benefits such as redundancy pay and protection against unfair dismissal.  Most employers will consider an extended leave as a break in employment.


contract pic


So a few things to think about are:

  1. What if I’m are made redundant whilst away?
  2. What if I want to extend or reduce the time away?
  3. What if I don’t want to come back
  4. Will I get my old job back
  5. What if my job no longer exists or I’m offered a different job
  6. Can I work on my Career Break.
  7. Maintaining the confidentiality agreement with the company
  8. Pay bonus and reviews
  9. Benefits
  10. Does my annual leave accrue when I’m away
  11. Will pension contributions be paid


What if you work for idiots and they reject your request

If they decide not to approve your request and you hand in your notice, make sure you leave on good terms as you’ll still want a reference and this way the door may still be open to you when you return.


 More Reading

Career Break Advice from a HR Director



About Liz

At the age of 39, Liz quit the 'Corporate World', downsized her life and followed her heart. Upon her return she set up CareerBreak360 with Robert to help others achieve their Career Break dreams.

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