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How to manage sabbaticals

Picture this: a break that’s more than just a holiday, yet not quite a full-blown career break. We’re talking about those periods of agreed paid or unpaid leave – sabbaticals! But why should employers consider offering sabbaticals, and how can they be managed effectively?

It is worth discussing the employment contract before we get into the whys and hows. Usually when sabbaticals are paid, the employment contract and benefits and the terms and conditions stay in place, keeping the employee’s length of service record intact. However, when the sabbatical is unpaid, the contract will not normally remain in force; if both parties agree, the employee’s continuity of service may be preserved.

Why Offer Sabbaticals?

Employees who use the time to learn new skills and gain knowledge and experience will bring all that newfound knowledge back to your company, perhaps with new found vigour and enthusiasm. Research even suggests if someone is feeling burnout or has quiet-quit, a sabbatical might be the refresh button they need. Moreover, at a time when recruitment can be difficult, offering sabbaticals as a benefit (62% of people in the UK said they would take a sabbatical if an option) can earn you some serious brownie points in the recruiting game – a definite win-win!

Okay, we’re not here to sugarcoat things. While sabbaticals have their shiny benefits, a few shadows are in the mix. Your star employee taking time off could lead to service disruption, and there’s that tiny concern that they might decide not to return. Plus, where there’s a process, there’s potential for complaints and risks. But fear not – with a bit of careful handling, these hurdles can be overcome.

So, how can organisations manage sabbaticals?

How to Manage Sabbaticals?

  • Currently, no employment legislation governs sabbaticals in the UK; however, employees may submit a flexible working request. Organisations could amend or create flexible working policies to reflect sabbatical leave should they wish to offer them. The policy should clearly outline the eligibility criteria, application process, duration, and employee expectations during their sabbatical.
  • The next step would be to create a sabbatical agreement; these documents will set out the terms and conditions that will apply to each employee during the sabbatical. You should include points such as continuity of service, arrangements for the employee’s return, any limitations during the period, annual leave accrual, pay, and benefits. ViewHR would be happy to create agreements for you.
  • Proactively plan for the absence of employees on sabbatical. Determine how tasks and responsibilities will be redistributed among team members or if temporary replacements will be needed. This ensures that daily operations continue smoothly and minimises disruption to ongoing projects. Ideally, you will want to consult with the team to ensure they are on board with any proposals.
  • Maintain open and regular communication with employees taking sabbatical leave. Establish a structured method for staying connected, such as periodic check-ins or updates on company developments. This helps employees stay engaged with the organisation and facilitates a seamless reintegration process upon their return.
  • After the sabbatical period, conduct an evaluation with the employee to gather insights into their experience and any potential areas for improvement. This feedback loop helps refine the sabbatical leave process, enhances its effectiveness, and demonstrates the company’s commitment to employee growth and well-being.

If the idea of offering sabbaticals has piqued your interest, why not get help from the experts? Here at ViewHR, we’re able to guide you through the sabbatical journey; from crafting a top-notch policy to ensuring a successful voyage, we’re here to help you make sabbaticals a success.

So, there you have it – sabbaticals: the ultimate blend of personal growth and company enhancement. Get in touch with ViewHR today to discuss how your business and employees could benefit from taking a sabbatical.