Sabbatical – a period of consciously not working

Are you tired of the grind of work? Then a sabbatical might be something for you. A sabbatical means that you take a long leave of absence to travel, for example. It sounds ideal to get away for a while, but there are also disadvantages. Unfortunately, there are very few companies that are willing to participate in this, even though it could potentially improve your work performance and ideas.

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period during which one is not working. There is sometimes an option to remain employed, but usually you do not have an employer at that time. This period is consciously chosen to reflect and gain experiences, for example by traveling.

The name

The name is derived from a passage from the Old Testament. In the laws of Moses it was written: “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall circumcise your vineyard, and you shall gather in the increase thereof. But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord; Thou shalt not sow thy field, neither shalt thou circumcise thy vineyard.” So no work was carried out that year. Whatever grew was for the animals and for the people who lived in poverty.


If you lose your job due to downsizing, you may want to take advantage of it instead of having to deal with it by treating it as a sabbatical. However, are you provided with work and a permanent contract? Then you can sit down with your employer to discuss a sabbatical. Before you start a conversation, put on paper why it would be good for your work performance. For example, if you are often tired at work, you may be able to start again after a year fitter and with good courage. You may want to look at other similar companies or take courses during the year to improve your own work performance. Consider the consequences carefully because if you do not have a job during that period, you will not have an income either. However, you may be able to receive a higher healthcare allowance, housing allowance or child benefit.

Life-course scheme

This tax scheme has existed since 2006. The employer is obliged to cooperate with this if you wish. You can take out such an arrangement with, for example, a bank. This scheme ensures that you still receive an income during unpaid leave through savings. This arrangement applies to all leave, including if:

  • You want to retire early
  • If you want to care for a sick person (care leave)
  • If you are going to follow a course
  • If you want to take care of the children (parental leave)

In total, you may save a maximum of 210 percent of your gross annual salary.

Reason sabbatical

If you actually travel, you will have little trouble with it. Be careful if you stay at home, boredom can set in after a while and you may not have the opportunity to go back to work straight away. There is also a possibility that you will become depressed because you have fewer social contacts and have no reason to go outside. Therefore, always consider why you want a sabbatical and how you are going to spend it usefully, also because you do not always have the option to just take a sabbatical and you have probably saved up for it. Perhaps a temporary unpaid career switch is something to fill your time. For example, you can do volunteer work for a good cause.