Sabbatical: 10 steps towards your career break
Gathering new energy while broadening your own horizon – to realize the idea of a sabbatical, conscientious planning is essential. This ten-point-plan gives you an initial overview of important steps concerning the organization of your sabbatical.
1. Start early with the planning process
You’re in need of a change of scenery and are thinking about a sabbatical? Start early with the planning process! It takes more time than you might expect beforehand. A lot of questions have to be answered: What do I want to do during my break? Do I spend it alone or with a partner? Especially important: Does my employer agree with a sabbatical? How do I finance it?
Create a to-do list with all the issues that need to be clarified. This way you will be able to better keep track of all the necessary planning steps. A little tip: Your planning should take twice as long as the duration of your sabbatical.
2. Find a convenient time
You should not only plan the duration and time of your sabbatical with your family and partner but also agree upon it precisely with your employer. If the company you work for is currently in an economically difficult phase, your sabbatical can be of advantage: it can be profitable to pay one employee less if the order situation is only moderate.
3. Talk to your employer
We cannot say it often enough: talk to your employer or supervisor as soon as possible about your plans and convince them of your project. A good preparation for this conversation often pays off. This way your supervisor realizes that your sabbatical is a matter of personal importance.
This means specifically that you should prepare valid arguments for a sabbatical that you bring in during the conversation. Also think about the work time regulation beforehand. You can practise the conversation with friends or your partner to prevent insecurities.
Last but not least, you should write down all the agreements so that there won’t be any misunderstandings after you return to your workplace.
4. Secure the financing
One of the most important questions surely is how you want to finance your sabbatical. You should first of all calculate how much money you might need during your break. This primarily depends on your individual needs, the destination and the duration of your journey.
A popular way is to save up overtime and vacation days. If you have collected enough time, you can get paid in leisure time.
Another possibility is to pass on a part of your salary beforehand in order to finance your break later.
A financially expensive way is the unpaid leave or termination. Starting to save money as soon as possible is here especially important – just like with all the other financing models.
5. Finding an appropriate insurance cover
A good insurance cover is essential – especially if you’re going abroad during your sabbatical.
Look for a foreign health insurance first. You’re insured by the statutory health insurance in most European countries. If you’re outside of Europe for a longer stay you need a private supplementary insurance. The exact contributions usually comply with your age, destination and the duration of your journey.
Depending on what work time model you chose, you might have to pay for your pension and unemployment insurance yourself.
The conclusion or renewal of a liability insurance is also important. It protects you from financial consequences and takes the claim settlement if any misfortunes might happen to you.
You should definitely seek advice from competent authorities to get to know more about the conditions.
6. Clarify what happens to your apartment, pet, mail, and car
What do you actually do with your apartment and your mail during your absence? Do you also have a car and a dog that needs to be cared for?
If you’re away for a longer time, you should try to find a subtenant for your apartment. This way your home isn’t empty and you simultaneously supplement your budget a bit. Remember that you are obliged to inform your landlord about this. Even if your landlord does not agree with you getting a subtenant you might still have the legal for subletting your apartment.
Ask your family or friends to regularly empty your mailbox.
You should also ask relatives or good friends early enough whether they can care for your pet. If you only travel for a short time, you will probably find help easily. In the case of a longer absence it might get more difficult. The earlier you deal with this, the bigger the chance that you find someone who agrees to care for your pet.
And what to do with your car? If you decide to deregister your car during the sabbatical you definitely save taxes. Don’t forget to inform the car insurance about the deregistration so that you don’t have to pay the insurance during this time. After you canceled your car’s registration you’re not allowed to park it at the side of the road but should put it in a garage somewhere. Another possibility is to sell your car. You should really consider this option since you might be able to finance a large part of your sabbatical this way.
7. Reduce further running costs
There are more fixed costs apart from the apartment and the car that can be reduced: Do you have any subscriptions to magazines or streaming services that can be canceled? Can you find someone who might take your running mobile, internet, and fixed-network contracts? Maybe you can transfer your card from the gym to a friend, brother or colleague?
We advise you again to create a list that you can work through little by little.
8. Gather information
We don’t only mean gathering information about sights and places that interest you! Inform yourself beforehand about things like climate, transport possibilities and cultural characteristics to avoid clangers.
You should also find out whether a special vaccination is needed in your destination country. The Foreign Office or a specialized doctor can give you information about this. Depending on the vaccination, you should deal with this already a couple of weeks before your departure!
9. Say goodbye
Even without this reminder, you are aware of how important a proper farewell from family, friends, and colleagues is.
However, here is another important tip: start your sabbatical without leaving any unresolved disputes. In the worst case these can burden you during your break und thus become an unwanted stress factor. Your farewell should be overall positive.
10. Plan your return
You should already think about your return in advance. This includes the question whether you want to return to your old job after your sabbatical or whether you want to make any changes.
Depending on the reasons for your sabbatical, it can be advisable to keep in contact with your workplace during your break. This way you stay updated, won’t lose the personal contact to your colleagues and return with a better feeling since you’re up to date about the company development. It is also helpful to deal with topics that are relevant for the company and your own work during your break.
You should return home a few days or weeks before your first day of work so that you have enough time to get used to your daily life again, and most importantly to spend time with family and friends.