Sabbat­ical: A career break in free economy

You are working in the free economy? In contrast to the civil service, a sabbatical in the free economy is not regulated by law in Germany. Learn more about this topic in our blog article.

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In contrast to the civil service a sabbatical in the free economy is not regulated by law in Germany. Nevertheless there are some bigger companies that have embedded this kind of time out in their voluntary social benefits. Fortunately, an increase of this trend is portrayed as young specialists as well as managers tend to set their focus in a different way than employees of former generations might have done. As a good working environment, flexible hours and an even work-life-balance are getting more and more important, also the possibility of a sabbatical is attracting young and qualified personnel.

In companies that have embedded sabbaticals in their social benefits, employees have a right on this kind of time out and will be supported with the organization of their sabbatical. In many cases it is possible to consult the employee representative about how a sabbatical is organized in the company.

Individual sabbaticals

Sadly not every company has embedded the possibility of a sabbatical in their voluntary social benefits so that in the majority of cases an individual agreement has to be made between employer and employee. As there is no guarantee for such a time out and it depends basically on your arguments, it is very important to prepare yourself properly before talking to your employer.

After your negotiation you should put down the general framework in written form with information like the length, you planned program and the starting as well as the end date of your sabbatical. If you don’t want to quit, it is also important to agree on a model to finance your time out.


Here you can read more about models that are used in the civil service in Germany to get some ideas about possible agreements. For example it could be an option to waive a part of your salary for a certain time to save it in a long-term account. By doing so, you will receive the money you saved in your time of absence. Another solution for a paid career break might be saving your holidays as well as overtime.

Furthermore, you can also agree on some protective measures during your time of absence like dismissal and insolvency protection. It is also important to agree on the terms and conditions of your return to the company, e.g. if it is possible to come back to your current position or if other options could be available.


As you usually don't have any legal ground for a sabbatical in a company and only very few companies have fixed arrangements, especially in a busy season it can be very difficult to be successful with your request. Nevertheless you should be aware that a possible rejection should have proper grounds as a simple rejection is discriminating, especially if a colleague was able to take a time out. In general, it can be said: The bigger the company, the better your chances.

If there are more employees, it is easier to share responsibilities and to find someone who is able and also willing to temporarily cover your tasks. In the end, your sabbatical in the free economy is not bound to any rules and therefore the framework and the arrangements depend on your company as well as your individual effort and passion to make it possible. Only in regard of the duration, a sabbatical is often limited, especially if you are in a higher position with personnel responsibility.

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