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A career break is a period of time out from employment.

Traditionally, this is for mothers to raise children, but it is sometimes used for people taking time out of their career for personal development and/or professional development.
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1 History 2 Usage 3 See also 4 References

[edit]History A career break is usually between one month and two years long. Six months to 2 years is the most [1] [2] common period of time for a career break. It's also possible to take a mini career break of less than one month, which enables people to try out career break activities without committing to longer periods of [1] time. Shorter career breaks are most popular with the over-45s. It can take the form of a sabbatical, which can be paid or unpaid - unpaid sabbaticals are much more [1] common. Sabbaticals were originally only offered to academics and clerics but are now being [3] increasingly offered by companies. A career break is not simply a period of unemployment. Career breakers usually do one or more of the following: Travel Voluntary work Paid work abroad Studying or training Offering palliative care Raising children Staying up-to-date with (profession related) news Recovering from accidents or illnesses

[edit]Usage The career break has grown in popularity over the last five years, with 75% of the British workforce [4] currently considering a career break. Every year, around 90,000 professionals are estimated to take a [5] career break. It is most common in the UK, where it grew out of the gap year concept. The career break is sometimes referred to as an 'adult gap year', which reflects the commitment towards developing skills and gaining experience while out of the workforce. This was talked about by Stefan Sagmeister in his TED talk "The power of time off". There is currently no law in the UK requiring an employer to offer or grant career breaks.
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There are two kinds of career break. In the first, an employer allows an employee to take an extended period of unpaid time-off work, possibly in order to raise a young family, on the assumption that the employee will return to work and resume their career in the future. Career break schemes of this kind have been developed particularly to retain professional women employees who might leave their employment and abandon their career once they become mothers. The period of absence from work, in these schemes, can include bouts of retraining and ongoing contact with the workplace in order to allow a smooth transition back into work. The second kind of career break is akin to a student's gapyear. What happens is that the employee resigns their job and finds fresh employment for a fixed period of time. Usually this is overseas in a developing country, arranged through a career break agency, and involves socially or environmentally useful work. Career breaks of this second kind are commonly, though not exclusively, taken by young professional workers who have valuable skills. The career break provides an opportunity to do something worthwhile, see a foreign country and reflect on future career plans. When it is over, the original career is often resumed though usually not with the same employer.

What is a career break?

A career break is your chance to do something new and exciting. Whether you're bored out of your brain at work, or quite like your job but fancy doing something different for a bit, a career break is a chance to get out there and see the world.

Why take a career break?


Many people take career breaks simply because they can. You might be fed up with work or home. You might have missed the chance to take a gap year when you were younger, and now seems like a good time. You can even use the break to change career, or simply figure out what you want to do.

What can you do?


Pretty much anything you want - as long as it's constructive, you're doing something different and you are stepping out of your comfort zone. Career breaks fall into five broad categories:

Paid work abroad Volunteer (usually abroad but you can do full-time volunteering in the UK)

Learn (language, sailing or instructor courses, for example) TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) Travel There are literally thousands of career break opportunities across these categories, so the really difficult part is deciding what to do! Most career breakers end up doing a combination of things.

What's the difference between a sabbatical, career break and adult gap year?

Not much. The word 'sabbatical' is often used when your employer is keeping your job open. A sabbatical or career break is usually unpaid and there is no legal entitlement to it - you have to agree it with your employer. Many career breakers choose to quit their job and find a new one when they return. A gap year (whether adult or not) is not necessarily a year. In fact, for adults, they tend to last around 6 months, although anything from a month to 2 years is counted as a career break. Constructive experiences (eg volunteering abroad) less a month are called mini career breaks.

Want a career break but don't know where to start?


Start by looking at this search facility where you can find a project to suit your interests. If you're in a rush, you can use this information ordering service (guaranteed spam free). And remember - a career break can and will change your whole life. Good luck!

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period away from work, agreed with your employer. The word is sometimes used interchangeably with 'career break' or 'adult gap year', but the specific feature about a sabbatical is that you will come back to the same job. The word 'sabbatical' comes from 'sabbath' - when academics would take every seventh year out.

About unpaid sabbaticals


Unpaid sabbaticals are by far the most common form of sabbatical in this country. Organisations which offer unpaid sabbaticals tend to be large corporations or big public sector employers. Smaller companies are starting to offer unpaid sabbaticals though. Usually, if you want an unpaid sabbatical, you will have to have worked for your organisation for a minimum period of time. 2 years is the standard. Your pension and salary will usually be frozen. Although your company may guarantee to hold your job open, sometimes they will only offer a similar job at the same level. Your employer will also usually stipulate that you can't do paid work for another company on your sabbatical (exceptions are sometimes made for charities). They might also have other restrictions - for example, some specify that you can't come back early. If you've got a sabbatical, or are thinking about applying, you can search for volunteering, TEFL, work and travel options here.

About paid sabbaticals


Paid sabbaticals are quite rare. This is when you take time out from your job, but your employer continues to pay your salary. They are sometimes available to academics for a particular purpose (eg research) but in the corporate world, they are generally given for a long period of service - such as 25 years.

How can I get a sabbatical?


If your company has a formal career break or sabbatical policy, find out how to apply by asking your line manager or HR manager. Or look in the company handbook or intranet. Even if your company has not offered sabbaticals before, it could still be worth asking for one. To test the water, mention the concept casually and see how your boss reacts. You might choose to drop in some facts that you've recently read about, eg that it costs around 8,500 to recruit a new member of staff, which is why it's cheaper to let an employee take a sabbatical. If you want to go ahead and formally request a sabbatical, it is vital that you tell your boss what benefits your career break will bring to the company (apart from your unswerving loyalty!). Things like the fact you are learning skills which you can't learn in your current job, eg becoming proficient in a particular language, or learning leadership skills. You may also like to point out that you have developed relationships with colleagues, clients, and/or suppliers which any replacement will take years to build up. Try to be specific when putting the business case to your employer - saying 'I'll be more confident' is vague, whereas 'I'll develop the confidence to handle our most difficult clients' is more useful.

It's also important to be flexible. For example, you might want to go away in the summer, but your company's quietest period is over the winter, so they'll be better able to manage without you. You might want to be away for 6 months, say, but it's more convenient for the company if you are back after 5. It's up to you to decide how much to compromise of course, and your decision will be affected by how much you like your job, and how easy you think it would be to get another one if you quit. It's vital that your sabbatical is constructive. All the sabbatical opportunities on this site are verified to ensure they provide sufficient professional and personal development. You can search for one of these sabbaticals here.

What if they say no?


You have 2 choices here. The first is to wait and try again in a few months - this is an option if you think they might change their minds, there's a new manager or boss coming in, or if things in your company change rapidly. The second is to quit your job. This is obviously riskier than taking a sabbatical but if a career break is something you really want to do, you might feel it's your only option.

The golden rule of sabbaticals


The most important thing you do when it comes to your sabbatical is get the agreement in writing. All the details, as agreed by you and your company, need to be written down and you both need to take a copy. When you agree your sabbatical, you need to ensure you think through all the things that might happen - especially the things you don't want to happen. For example, you might run out of money and you want to return to your job early, but you're not allowed to. You could end up wanting to extend your sabbatical - is there a provision for this? What if you're enjoying your new life in Australia you don't want to come back? What if the company makes you redundant? It's useful to talk this over with a sensible, critical friend or relative outside the office - someone who can think of what might go wrong. Whatever happens though, with your sabbatical agreement in writing, and your employment contract, you've got some protection if things go pear-shaped. Do bear in mind though, that most sabbaticals end up being a positive experience for both the employer and the employee. So bite the bullet, make your application, and enjoy your sabbatical!

Career breaks and the law


If you're an employee who wants a sabbatical, you might want to know what the law is surrounding career breaks or sabbaticals. Currently, there isn't one. Your company doesn't have to offer staff a sabbatical if they don't want to. Many companies have an official career break policy, and this will be in the HR handbook. Even without a career break policy, your company can still give you a sabbatical.

Many organisations offer career breaks to employees who've worked there for a minimum period of time - this is standard practice. Career breaks should always be given equally and fairly - if they're left to a manager's discretion, and you don't get one, you might be able to bring a case for discrimination against your employer. When you go on a sabbatical, whether or not there's an existing career break policy, you must get the terms in writing. Employment contracts and any similar contracts (like the career break agreement) are still governed by law, which means your employer can't impose any 'unreasonable' conditions. It also means that you are bound by the contract, so, for example, you may not have any right to return to work early. You will also need to protect yourself from unexpected developments. For example, what if you are made redundant while on sabbatical? What if you want to extend or curtail your career break? What if you don't want to come back? What if your job no longer exists and you're offered a different one? All these things must be considered before you take your sabbatical. Finally, be aware that while you are on sabbatical, you are still legally employed by the company, even if you're not being paid. If you're ready for your sabbatical, search for a career break here. If you're an employer, visit our employers' section for more ways we can help you.

Career breaks and the law


If you're an employee who wants a sabbatical, you might want to know what the law is surrounding career breaks or sabbaticals. Currently, there isn't one. Your company doesn't have to offer staff a sabbatical if they don't want to. Many companies have an official career break policy, and this will be in the HR handbook. Even without a career break policy, your company can still give you a sabbatical. Many organisations offer career breaks to employees who've worked there for a minimum period of time - this is standard practice. Career breaks should always be given equally and fairly - if they're left to a manager's discretion, and you don't get one, you might be able to bring a case for discrimination against your employer. When you go on a sabbatical, whether or not there's an existing career break policy, you must get the terms in writing. Employment contracts and any similar contracts (like the career break agreement) are still governed by law, which means your employer can't impose any 'unreasonable' conditions. It also means that you are bound by the contract, so, for example, you may not have any right to return to work early.

You will also need to protect yourself from unexpected developments. For example, what if you are made redundant while on sabbatical? What if you want to extend or curtail your career break? What if you don't want to come back? What if your job no longer exists and you're offered a different one? All these things must be considered before you take your sabbatical. Finally, be aware that while you are on sabbatical, you are still legally employed by the company, even if you're not being paid. If you're ready for your sabbatical, search for a career break here. If you're an employer, visit our employers' section for more ways we can help you.

Career break ideas

Stuck for ideas for what to do on your career break? Here are some ideas. Firstly, think about what effect you want your career break to have on your career. Do you want to develop your teamwork ability, or leadership skills? Here are some career break ideas which will have a positive professional impact:

Do volunteer work in an orphanage - and improve your ability to face challenges head-on Take a language course abroad which includes cultural immersion - develop your communication skills while learning the language

Participate in a community development project teaching your professional skill to underprivileged people - as well as getting experience as a trainer, you will also use communication skills and develop your problem-solving ability

Lead an expedition into the jungle - you will need both leadership skills and teamwork ability to do this

Do paid work abroad temping or seasonal work - your job application and interview skills will improve alongside your ability to be flexible

Mini career breaks

Want a career break but just don't have time? A mini career break could be what you need. Mini career breaks last from 1 week to 1 month, and if you put your heart into it, you can make a tremendous difference during that short space of time - to yourself as well as to other people.

Why take a mini career break?


In short, to get a career break experience in a short space of time. Reasons include:

Wanting to test the water before committing for a longer period of time Wanting to try out more than one career break activity Wanting more than just an ordinary holiday - using your holiday time to give something back or to learn something new Work (being unable or unwilling to take a sabbatical) Financial restrictions Commitments at home, eg not wanting to take children out of school (although many career break companies now accommodate children too) A last-minute decision - mini career breaks take less time to plan than longer ones

What can I do on a mini career break?


Volunteer. A lot of volunteer organisations now offer placements of 1 to 4 weeks, as mini career breaks become more popular. Travel. Adventure travel companies can also accommodate shorter career breaks.

Learn.There are a number of studying and training options, such as learning Spanish in South America or doing a short ski or snowboard course. TEFL. It's unlikely you'll be able to do a TEFL job for less than a month, but you can do your TEFL course in that time - then you'll be ready for work later on.

How can I organise a mini career break?


Firstly, decide how long you're going to be able to take. If you don't have enough holiday time left, ask your HR manager about 'buying' another week or two, explaining that you want to use the time to do something constructive. This is quite common so it's worth asking even if your company has no formal policy. Next, decide what you want to do on your mini career break. Your three main options are learning, volunteering and travelling, but these can sometimes be combined into a single placement. For example, you might do a scuba-diving course as part of a volunteer placement, then add on a week of travel after volunteering. Finally, decide if there's anything else you want to get out of your mini career break. As you are going for a relatively short length of time, you might choose to do more research about your destination before you leave, or learn some of the language before you go. You might also decide to keep a journal, blog or photo diary of your experience.

What will I get out of my mini career break?


It depends on what you do, but generally you'll find you learn more than you would on a normal holiday, and if you do volunteer work, you'll get a sense of doing something worthwhile. You might get a taste for the particular place that you visit and be able to organise a longer career break there in future. You might also get an idea of what studying abroad, adventure travel or volunteering abroad really involves, so you know what to try next time! Click here to see a list of mini career breaks that you can do in less than a month.