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What Is a Sabbatical and Why You Might Need One

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Sabbatical: Definition

The word "sabbatical" is derived from the word "sabbath," which means a day of rest. Some people think that only those who work in ministry or the military deserve a sabbatical, but that is far from the truth. Anyone who works is entitled to a sabbatical.

The real definition of a sabbatical is an extended period of time away from a person's usual work for the purposes of rest, training, travel, or for other reasons. The break is intended to enable a person to return to his usual position being renewed physically, mentally, and spiritually.

It is not unusual to want to get away from your job to get a fresh start. A vacation won’t help as much because you need an extended and dramatic break from your usual routine.

Sabbatical vs. Vacation

A sabbatical is different from a vacation, even both of them involve time off from work. Travel may or may not be involved in either one. Vacations are taken mostly for pleasure and are usually much shorter. A sabbatical will last for an extended period of time—a couple of months to a year or longer.

Sometimes, sabbaticals have an estimated end date, but they don't have to. Often the date is not determined in advance, as a vacation is.

Sabbatical vs. Vacation


A break from a job or church

A break from a job or church

Extended period of time away

Much shorter break

2 months to a year; sometimes the return date is unplanned

Usually 2 weeks

For research, training, to write a book, to achieve something

For pleasure, relaxation, and fun

Solo effort

Family members and friends are involved

Meant to achieve something

Not meant for any special achievment

Could be paid or unpaid

Jobs usually pay for vacations

Myths About Sabbaticals

These are some myths associated with sabbaticals.

  • Only people who have worked for a company a long time should be granted a sabbatical.
  • Sabbaticals should be taken only when the reason is directly related to your job.
  • Sabbaticals are always job-related.
  • All sabbaticals are unpaid.

The truth is, sabbaticals don't have to involve only job-related activities or research. They can be taken for personal reasons that benefit you personally. Sabbaticals are not limited to education, training, or writing a book. It can be about resetting your life that has nothing to do with your job.

Some people are known to have taken a six-month sailing sabbatical that had nothing to do with their careers; however, it helped put them in the right frame of mind to be more productive when they returned to work.

Most people do not take sabbaticals from their jobs because they don't know they can. Employees should find out if their company offer sabbatical programs.

Employees might think all sabbatical are unpaid. Employees can negotiate paid sabbatical leave from some companies.


Benefits of Sabbaticals

Sabbaticals are not only beneficial personally for an employee, but they are also good for the company. Getting away will help employees who are no longer producing on their job. When employees begin to lack creativity, getting away will help in that area.

A company benefits by allowing an employee to take a sabbatical rather than quitting. If an employee quits, it will cost the company to recruit someone else to hire and train.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article indicating that organizations benefit when their employees take much-needed sabbaticals. Sabbaticals provide rest for employees to recharge and renew so they can be much better when they return.


Sabbaticals Are On the Rise

Sabbaticals are on the rise in the workplace these days and they are highly recommended. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 17 percent of employers offered paid or unpaid sabbaticals in 2017. They ranged from a few weeks to several months. In fact, some employees went on more than one sabbatical.

The most significant benefit of sabbaticals is to get a renewed perspective. Usually, when an employee returns from a sabbatical, he is a better worker than before, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The study also proved that a decline in stress was noticed after returning from a sabbatical.



This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.