[Translate to English:] Reiseunterlagen für die Auszeit vom Job

Sabbatical – Welcome to your time out from everyday work

Do you sometimes dream of taking time out from your job to travel the world or devote all your energy to a specific hobby? Then a sabbatical may be just the thing for you. It can help you escape the stress of everyday work, gain experience and free up your mind. Whether you want to go on a longer journey, hike through the mountains on your own or spend more time with your family is irrelevant. Each of us is motivated by different things. The most important thing about a sabbatical is doing something that is good for you. Taking a break from work is not that difficult these days and always depends on your employer. This article tells you more about what you need to consider if planning a sabbatical.

How to shape your sabbatical

[Translate to English:] Frau genießt die Auszeit vom Job an einem See

Nowadays, a sabbatical means taking approximately 3 to 12 months off work. You either take the whole time off or work part time for a while. "Sabbat" is Hebrew and means "rest" or "ceasing". It's all about pausing to consider – allowing yourself to rest and put some space between you and your everyday work. Whether the break is by choice or on prescription, there are many good arguments in favour of a sabbatical:

  • Recuperating / recharging your batteries
  • Improving your work-life balance
  • Upskilling
  • Travelling
  • Social commitment
  • Focus on private matters, such as child-rearing

Plan your sabbatical to suit your needs

Shaping your planned time off to suit your personal wishes is important. A sabbatical is too precious to use it for anything other than wholly for your own good. So take enough time beforehand to answer the following questions:

  • Why do I want to take time off?
  • How do I want to use the time off; what for?
  • Do I want to spend my time off alone or in company?
  • Am I planning to change my life afterwards, or to continue as before?

Once you are clear about these issues, you are ready to take the next steps towards implementation. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a legal entitlement to a sabbatical. It is up to your employer. If you are, however, able to agree a sabbatical with your employer, realising your dream of some time off is of course that much easier. And the chances are good: The idea behind sabbaticals is already common knowledge and accepted in many firms. In light of the shortage of specialists, a lot of companies are willing to accept flexible models to remain attractive as employers. Even if nobody before you has gone on sabbatical in your company – it's definitely worth a try. Make sure you are well prepared for the discussion with your employer.

Models for implementing and financing sabbaticals

1. Special unpaid leave

Your job and your pay are put on ice for the agreed period without, however, terminating the employment contract. That gives you the right to return and you don't lose your protection against dismissal. But beware: Your statutory health insurance continues for the first 4 weeks of your special leave; after that you must take out your own insurance. You must finance the cost of your sabbatical yourself, e.g. with your savings.

2. Time savings account

You can save overtime and unused vacation over a longer period and then "cash them in" to take time off. This is a common model in larger companies and offers various advantages: Your employer continues to pay the normal salary and social security contributions.

3. Wage sacrifice and part-time models

A further option is to take only part of your salary for a certain period and to keep receiving the same share during your sabbatical. For example, you work full time for 2 years for two-thirds of your salary so that you can take a year off in your third year while continuing to receive two thirds of your salary. That way, you keep both your salary and the social security contributions of your employer.

4. Resignation

You can, of course, also resign. But that only makes sense if you were going to do it anyway. Resigning also has some disadvantages. For one thing, you have no regulated means of returning to work. For another, the employment agency will refuse to pay you unemployment benefit for the first three months. After those three months, you must make yourself available to the employment agency if you want to receive unemployment benefit. This step therefore needs to be considered very carefully.

Make sure your return is nice and relaxed

[Translate to English:] Frau mit Koffer am Flughafen kommt von Sabbatical zurück

Before you start, make sure you plan your return. It will make it much easier for you to return to your "former life":

  • Clarify what is going to happen to your apartment. Is your apartment going to remain vacant? Are you going to sublet? Who is going to look after these things while you are away?
  • Put some money aside for unforeseen contingencies.
  • Plan sufficient time between coming home and returning to work. Several days will help you to return to everyday life.

And finally, some good advice: Don't be put off. There is always someone who will try to stop you or complain or simply doesn't want you to go. If you are convinced you are on the right track, you will be able to convince others and find solutions. You will find a lot of guidance, experience reports and blogs on the internet.