Survey of sabbaticals and extended leave


Survey of sabbaticals and extended leave

Two out of three employee groups surveyed by IRS are permitted to take sabbaticals or similar extended leave, with many employers making special arrangements for employees with family living abroad. But extended breaks are usually unpaid.

The survey of 135 organisations reports on employer policies on sabbaticals and longer-term breaks, and looks at how they deal with requests for time off to observe religious festivals.


The IRS report examines:

  • how common are sabbaticals
  • are they paid or unpaid?
  • rules and restrictions
  • benefits for employers
  • religious holidays
  • the legal position.

Key survey results

  • There is a large element of managerial discretion over whether extended leave is granted and under what circumstances. It is also common for employers to require a minimum period of employment before employees become eligible.
  • Few employers have formal arrangements to allow employees time off for religious reasons, although recent legal developments have raised awareness of religious and cultural issues in the workplace.
  • Many employers have policies that permit employees to take longer periods away from work either in conjunction with paid annual leave or in addition to it.

--> This is one of three IRS articles drawing on the survey data. Others in the IRS series analysed basic paid annual leave entitlements and the treatment of bank holidays; and a range of additional leave and administrative arrangements.

Want to know more?

Title: “Annual leave 2007: Sabbaticals and extended leave”, IRS Employment Review 872, 8 May 2007.

Survey details: IRS invited selected HR practitioners by email to take part in an online survey of annual leave arrangements. It received useable responses from individuals at 135 organisations who provided details on behalf of a total of 261 employee groups.

Availability: The journal is now available as part of a subscription to XpertHR. Go to to subscribe.

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