Sabbatical (Furlough)


The term sabbatical is used to describe a benefit that allows employees to voluntarily take a break from work for a predetermined amount of time.  Taking a sabbatical is more common among teachers, who may be granted this time off from work to improve their knowledge or conduct research.


Also known as a voluntary furlough, a sabbatical is a benefit some institutions provide their employees.  Sabbaticals allow employees to take a break from their daily work routine.  Timeframes are negotiated before taking leave, with durations that range from as few as sixty days to as long as one year.

It's fairly uncommon for corporations to offer their employees this type of benefit.  When offered, sabbaticals are oftentimes unpaid leave or the employee may receive a portion of their salary.  Benefits such as medical insurance are normally extended to the employee for the duration of their time away from work.

Employees that take an unpaid sabbatical may do so to reinvigorate their careers, increase their skills through study, or improve their overall mental health.  Companies can also institute temporary furloughs to lower headcount and reduce costs in the near term; thereby avoiding laying-off employees. 

Academic institutions may offer paid sabbaticals to qualifying individuals.  Granting this leave is usually contingent upon the individual fulfilling a goal such as conducting field research or writing a book.

Related Terms

compressed workweek, hiring freeze, dislocated worker, exit incentives, severance pay, workforce reduction, employee lending agreement, excused absence