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The sabbatical - a temporary career break

Do you also dream of taking time out from your professional life to concentrate on yourself and your free time? Then a sabbatical might be just the thing for you! Here you can find out everything about sabbaticals - what types are available, how to finance them, and much more!

Professional Time Off Thanks to Sabbatical

During a sabbatical, employees consciously take a longer break from their job. It's not always just about taking a vacation - it's more about personal development, gaining new experience, or just really relaxing. Employees can agree on the duration individually. As a rule, a sabbatical lasts 6-12 months. The financing options are just as individual. In the following, you will learn about the most common sabbatical models.

Which Sabbatical Suits You?

There are numerous ways to organize a sabbatical. As different as companies are, the preferences of employees also vary. This makes it all the more important to find the sabbatical model that's right for you. Among the most popular are:

  • Unpaid sabbatical leave
  • Special leave
  • Full-time to part-time
  • Salary sacrifice

Let's take a closer look at the different sabbaticals.

Unpaid Leave

Probably the simplest type for a sabbatical is an unpaid leave of absence. The employment relationship is paused. During this time, employees do not receive a salary. In addition, they have to take care of the social security themselves. From the company's point of view, this type of sabbatical is the most favorable form.

πŸ‘ Simple implementation πŸ‘Ž No salary

Special Leave

Are you planning a short sabbatical, no longer than four weeks? Then you can file for so-called "special leave". During this time, the company will continue to pay your social security contributions.

πŸ‘ Company takes over social insurance. πŸ‘Ž Maximum of 4 weeks πŸ‘Ž No salary

Full-time to Part-time

In this model, employees and the company enter into a part-time contract. As an employee, however, you then work full-time and accumulate overtime. Your company records this overtime in a so-called "working time account." The accumulated overtime is then paid to you like a normal salary during your time off. However, the Part-Time Act requires that the employee has been employed for at least 6 months. The company must also have more than 15 employees.

πŸ‘ Company continues to pay wages & social security πŸ‘Ž Regulations of the Part-Time Act to be observed

Salary Sacrifice

Here, employees work full time, but do not receive the full salary, but only a portion (e.g., 50%). The rest goes into a "credit account." During the sabbatical, the company then pays out the savings to the employee.

πŸ‘ Company continues to pay wages & social security πŸ‘Ž Percentage to be agreed with company

Also possible: The last resort to enforce a sabbatical: termination. Those who take this step usually use the sabbatical for a professional reorientation.

Taking Time Off with Security

If you dream of taking a break from your professional life, signing a sabbatical agreement with your company is essential. Many companies have templates for such agreements, but make sure to include the following information in your contract:

  • The duration of the sabbatical
  • The sabbatical model you will be using
  • The terms for returning to the company
  • Your entitlement to remaining vacation time
  • Any further training measures to be taken
  • Employment opportunities after the sabbatical
  • Sanctions for violations of the agreement
  • Protection against dismissal
  • Arrangements in case of illness
  • Any other individual agreements

Why is this important? During your sabbatical, the sabbatical contract applies, and your normal employment contract is suspended. This contract provides security for both you and your company.

Sabbatical: Advantages and Disadvantages

Taking time off from work may sound like a dream come true, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons before making such an important decision. Here is an overview of both sides:

βœ“ Benefits

βœ“ Personal development: You can use your time off to learn new things or travel the world. βœ“ Relaxation: A few weeks of vacation a year are usually not enough for real rest. With the sabbatical, it's no problem! βœ“ Higher motivation: After enough time for yourself, you'll come back to work with more energy.

βœ– Disadvantages

βœ– Finances: A sabbatical without pay can lead to financial difficulties. βœ– Career: It's possible to lose important knowledge and skills during a long break. βœ– Re-entry: After a longer sabbatical, it may be challenging to get back into work mode.

In a nutshell: The most important questions about sabbaticals

Here's a summary of the most frequently asked questions about sabbaticals:

Am I entitled to a sabbatical?

No, but there are laws such as the Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act that can support longer sabbaticals. Many companies have clear guidelines on sabbatical time, although the details must be agreed upon individually.

πŸ€” Did you know? Teachers, as well as employees and civil servants in the public sector, are entitled to a sabbatical.

Am I covered by social insurance during this time?

In general, the company only has to pay social security contributions if you are employed for remuneration and perform work. Therefore, it's essential to clarify in advance which financing model you choose.

Do I have vacation entitlement during the sabbatical?

As long as the employment relationship formally continues, everything remains unchanged in terms of vacation entitlement, regardless of whether you take a paid or unpaid sabbatical.

How can sabbatical leave be financed?

There are various ways to finance your sabbatical. If you take unpaid leave, you have to take care of the financing yourself. If you take special leave, you will not receive a salary, but your company will pay your social security contributions. Would you like to continue receiving a salary during your career break? Then you can also finance your sabbatical through overtime (full-time to part-time) as well as salary sacrifice (saving up part of your salary).

Am I protected against dismissal?

No, unless you have stipulated otherwise in your sabbatical contract. If you haven't, the statutory notice period applies.

πŸ”Ž Myth busted: The sabbatical is not a gap in your resume. Many companies even give high credit for the professional sabbatical. Find out more about sabbaticals on your resume here.

Conclusion: Have the courage to take time out

The sabbatical allows you to focus on personal goals and dreams, and it helps you find a better work-life balance and strengthen relationships with family and friends. To get the most out of your sabbatical, careful planning is crucial. Additionally, consider your financial situation, but most of all, have fun on your sabbatical!