Sabbatical Considerations and Proposals

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on February 25, 2011

In preparation to further break the ice with my employer regarding our impending sabbatical I’ve realized that there are a few considerations to keep in mind if you are adamant about keeping your same job when you return from your sabbatical.

Sabbatical Considerations and Proposals

Nothing to do with the topic but we did have snow this morning

I’ve already had one conversation with my boss regarding my desire to take an extended leave of absence and the conversation was very positive.  My boss is a world traveler and strongly believes in exposing kids to world travel and different cultures so she was very receptive to the idea.  The problem with the initial conversation was that the length of the sabbatical was not discussed in depth and so the perceived expectation was that this would be a 1-3 month leave of absence.  It’s not exactly what our goal is but it’s a start and the ice has been broken.

You may be wondering why I didn’t elaborate on my real intentions and expose my 1 year sabbatical plan.  The truth is I wanted to get a feel for how receptive the idea of extended leave would be and then put together a proposal based on that feeling.  Had the reception not been positive I would have had to take a different approach.  I also went into this without really being prepared to discuss the benefits to the company, which may or may not have been a mistake.  And maybe some of it was a little fear over being turned down.  There are a few things going on with my job that actually make taking a sabbatical now a benefit to the company and I’ll elaborate more on that later.

I’m actually in the process of putting together a proposal that outlines not only my own personal benefits of taking a 1 year sabbatical but also how this translates into a big win for the company.  More details on that and the resources that I am using will be coming at a later date.

But I did want to touch on a few considerations to keep in mind while you are planning your own sabbatical.  These are things that were brought to my attention during my initial conversation with my employer.  Granted your situation may be different.  If you are fortunate your company may even have a sabbatical policy where these issues may already be addressed.

Sabbatical Considerations

First, employer sponsored health insurance benefits are expensive and the bulk is paid for by my employer.  In my case the amount my employer will pay is based on the number of hours per week that I work.  If I am on sabbatical they won’t pay anything and so the premium will be left to me to pay ($1500/month), or I can opt out and go it on my own.  Health and safety should be a big concern to travelers, especially those with kids.  For us we are unable to afford the premiums alone for an entire year so we are researching options for travel insurance that will cover us in the case of a medical emergency.  This is definitely something to keep in mind if you plan on taking a leave of absence.

Along the same lines of health insurance are other forms of employer sponsored insurance programs like life insurance or different forms of disability insurance.  Again in my case my employer would not pay for those during my extended leave of absence.  For us this isn’t a big concern as we have our own life insurance plan external to my employer and we don’t participate in disability insurance programs.

Another consideration is your retirement plan.  I’m participating in a company 401K in which they match a certain percentage based on time of service.  I’ve met the obligation and therefore my employer is matching the percentage I put in but that will cease while I am on a sabbatical because I won’t be able to take vacation pay for the whole year (I’ll be taking leave without pay).  If continuing to contribute to your retirement is a concern for you this would be an area you would want to research and find out what the implication are for your particular situation.

You’ll also want to find out how taking a sabbatical will affect your standing with the company in terms of vacation days.  At our company the number of PTO (Paid Time Off) days is based on how long you have been employed with the company.  It may very well be that the time you are away will not count toward meeting the next level or tier of service where you start to earn more days off per year unless of course you are taking vacation pay the whole time.  But you may not care too much since you’ll be taking an awesome adventure anyway.  But again, this is something to keep in the back of your mind when you are negotiating your sabbatical with your employer.

Our Next Steps

So what are the next steps for us?  First, I’m in the process of drafting a formal presentation to my boss on our intention to take a 1 year sabbatical complete with the benefits this will bring to the company.  I won’t go into detail on that now but rest assured that I will be writing about how to go about this in great detail shortly.  In short the proposal will outline what I want (1 year unpaid leave of absence), my list of accomplishments and how I have benefited the company, what I would gain from the experience and how that would benefit the company and solutions for how my position and duties would be covered during my absence.  After the presentation is complete I will present it to my boss and we’ll see what happens.  If all goes well I’ll have a job to come back to in a years’ time.

Do you have experience negotiating a sabbatical with your employer?  I’d love to hear how you went about it and what resources you utilized.

If you enjoyed this article be sure to sign up for the 1 Year Sabbatical newsletter over in the sidebar, as well as take a look at the RSS Feed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian @OneGiantStep February 25, 2011 at 10:42 am

I did negotiate a one year leave of absence. I was lucky and work for a supportive organization and have a great boss who took my case up to where it needed to be approved. You’re going about it exactly right though – you have to show how the organization will benefit from you being away. Point out your achievements and ways you’ve helped the company and then explain how your skills and commitment will be that much better upon return. Orgs want you to be happy…to a certain point…but they really want to know what’s in it for them. It’s worth being prepared to negotiate. Good luck Matt!
Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..FollowFriday 25Feb2011

Reply

matt February 26, 2011 at 2:04 am

Thanks Gillian! I’m going to break the ice again in the next few weeks and present my proposal. Were you nervous when you negotiated your leave of absence? Did you have a backup plan if they said no?

Reply

Steve February 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Matt, nice work. That first conversation is always the hardest. I’m not sure of how close you are with your boss, but it is great that he understands the value of travel. Many employees are not that fortunate. It was a bit of a gamble to bring it up while not being fully prepared to discuss all benefits, but it didn’t come up so no worries…and you now have a better idea of their reaction and the steps you have to take. You’re in a good spot there! Good luck on your next steps.

Reply

matt February 26, 2011 at 2:13 am

Hey Steve! I’ll be presenting my proposal in the next few weeks. It may be that we will need to negotiate our departure date as I just found out today that my boss is taking 3 weeks off in August to go overseas. I’ll definitely be reporting what happens here on the blog.

Reply

Grace February 27, 2011 at 11:19 am

Hey Matt, I’m glad I ran into this post. Taking a sabbatical has been on my mind for some time now. I’m planning an RTW in the near future. I hope you keep us posted with the proposal because I think that presenting a wining case is a great strategy to get to yes.
Grace recently posted..Achieving Clarity in Coroico- Vantage Point Bolivia 2

Reply

matt February 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Hi Grace! I will definitely be providing updates about the proposal, how I crafted it, what I emphasized and most importantly whether I was successful or not. What are your plans for your sabbatical?

Reply

Grace March 3, 2011 at 2:52 am

Honestly, I am planning to take off by 2014…so I have time to save a LOT of money. I do plan to slowly let my boss know what my intentions are but not sure how to approach it yet. I really admire your goal and hopefully everything works out for you and your family. I wish my dad had the same view and we had traveled as a unit when we were younger!
Grace recently posted..Top 8 Quirky Tokyo Tidbits

Reply

Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm

That’s awesome Grace and such a good goal to shoot for. The more money you save the longer you have to travel. I think approaching your boss is a delicate situation. In the next few weeks I’ll be presenting my sabbatical proposal to my boss. Of course she’ll then need to present it to the HR people for approval. I’ll definitely be writing more about requesting sabbatical time as I think it’s something most people would struggle with. Maybe a part of it is we look at our jobs as we’re working for someone rather than it being a business arrangement with both parties on equal ground. I’m definitely excited for your planning and journey and if I can help in any way please let me know. Cheers!

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: