What is a sabbatical at American universities

What is it?

A sabbatical is a break from work in agreement with the employer.
This is made possible by the employee working part of the time in advance, saving up vacation and Christmas bonuses, accumulating credit in a working time account and / or taking unpaid vacation.

Where does it come from?

The term sabbatical goes back to the biblical sabbath. The sabbatical was originally introduced at American universities to give professors the opportunity to research for a longer period of time undisturbed.

Where is it used?

Sabbaticals are mainly found in large corporations, in IT and consulting companies, but also in schools.

What is it supposed to achieve?

  • The sabbatical is used as a staff loyalty and motivational tool: The temporary leave of absence is intended to give deserving employees the opportunity to develop personally, attend a longer training course or go on a longer trip.
  • In industries with high work and deadline pressure, a break of 2-3 months serves to regenerate.
  • In some cases, sabbaticals are used with reduced wages to avoid layoffs during periods of low orders.

What can go wrong

After returning home, integration problems arise.

What do you have to pay attention to?

  • The time of your own absence must be prepared with your colleagues.
  • The time-out must not be interpreted to the detriment of the employee.
  • The workplace must be organized for re-entry.
  • In the case of sabbaticals that have been used for further training, the job should correspond to the new qualifications.

What framework conditions are required?

  • It must be regulated which employees are entitled to a sabbatical (length of service, age, division, etc.)
  • The representation must be regulated.
  • Return to work must be organized.
  • These arrangements should be recorded in a written agreement.


  • Richter, A .: Get off on time. Cologne 2002.

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