What is Sabbatical Leave? How does it work?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The dictionary definition of a sabbatical is a “leave from work”. It is defined as a period during which employees can time off from work for various purposes such as taking some personal family time, vacationing, or simply rest. During the sabbatical leave period, the employee is still a part of the organization but is not required to normal daily duty or report to work.

Taking sabbatical leave is common, especially in educational institutions. Many professors take a sabbatical leave and pose as a guest lecturer for different universities in different countries to learn and research more about that area of expertise. Needless to say, the regular hustle of work becomes mundane and tiresome, and everyone deserves a break. There is no systematic regularization of sabbatical leave in most of the companies. Although, many giant corporations offer their employees sabbatical leave from work as a token for their hard work and dedication. Every company and the HR departments need to have a structure in place where the employees can resume the office after a certain amount of period.

This blog will help you to know what is a sabbatical leave.

What is a sabbatical leave?

A sabbatical leave from work is crucial for the employees to relax and reduce stress from their monotonous hustle of work life. Although this is not mandated by law, it is imperative that the organizations see and realize the need for it and put together a policy allowing an employee to take sabbatical leave from work and come back with higher productivity and creative ideas.

The true meaning of sabbatical leave is taking some time off from the mundane work-life temporarily to attain individual life goals. The life goals can vary from person to person depending on what they truly want to learn from life. It can be an adventure, traveling, higher studies, volunteering, etc. But this type of leave can be granted to the employees only after they have an agreement that they will be return to work after the sabbatical leave.

In recent times, many organizations have started giving their employee an option for a sabbatical leave. Having said that, it is based on certain conditions such as eligibility and resource availability. The point of offering employees sabbatical leave is to avoid their complete professional burnout.

Is Sabbatical Leave Policy Essential?

So far, there is no particular law that mandates sabbatical leave, but more and more companies are drafting a sabbatical leave policy to improve the productivity of all employees. As an organization, it is paramount to appreciate the hard work and loyalty of the employees, and give them a much-deserved break. By giving sabbatical leave, either paid or unpaid, can help in giving the employees a fresh mindset and help them in focusing better on work. If an employee is burdened with work, there are high chances of burnout. As they say, employees are the most crucial asset of any organization, thus they deserve a break from time to time to refresh their minds.

The sabbatical leave policy should be drafted by the HR department to ease the application process.

Also Read: What are Different Types of Leave for Employees in India?

Frequently Asked Questions

• How can a sabbatical leave be provided to an employee?

A sabbatical leave from work is a luxury that every hard-working employee deserves, but unfortunately, there is no such statutory law that states the government to provide employees with such leaves. To apply for sabbatical leave, an employee must apply for the same well months in advance. This will ensure that the organization manages to procure the required resources in the absence of the employee so that the business doesn’t get affected. From big to small, every company is trying to incorporate sabbatical leave in their policy to increase employee engagement and productivity. It is very crucial that the sabbatical leave should be clearly defined, as to when and for how much time the employee is allowed to take a break from daily life.

• Is the sabbatical leave paid or unpaid?

The most commonly asked question when it comes to a sabbatical leave is whether it is a paid or unpaid leave. It varies from company to company. In some organizations, the pay of sabbatical leave is equal to the regular income of the employee. In others, the pay is for an extra month beyond which the employee goes on leave without pay. And many companies continue to provide salaries, be it full or a percentage of the actual amount. The meaning of a sabbatical leave is permitting an employee to take a break from work for a particular period. Unfortunately, since it is not legally important, the pay varies on the companies’ policies. Many times the employees are not provided with pay, but they are fine with it as long as they have the assurance that they can re-join the company after their sabbatical leave.

Also Read: 5 Leave Management Tips for HR Managers

• Why is it important?

Everyone has a different reason for taking a sabbatical leave. An employee should make sure that the reason that he/she is writing in the application makes them eligible to take one. Many times employees work long hours, back to back, without any breaks. This can cause a lot of stress on the employees’ health, both mentally and physically. Thus, taking a break to rejuvenate and find inner peace is very crucial to continue to be productive at work. A person chooses to go on sabbatical leave when they feel they are going to suffer burnout if they don’t take some time off for themselves. Additionally, there are other kinds of sabbatical leave, such as maternity leave, where a pregnant woman gets paid sabbatical for usually up to 6 months. How she wants to divide this leave is up to her.


No matter why an employee wants to take sabbatical leave, the company should provide them with one if they are eligible. Everyone is entitled to take care of their well-being and pursue their dreams and goals. The HR department should create a robust reward program for such leaves, to ensure that the employees work hard and efficiently to earn it.

To learn more about why giving space to the employees is crucial for their productivity, read up our HR-related blogs here.


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