Do you need a break from everyday work? Find out everything about the sabbatical in our guide — from the legal situation to successful reintegration!

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The art of taking a break: a fascinating look into the world of sabbatical. This way of combining work and recreation has become increasingly important in recent years. Whether you want to recharge your batteries, enjoy special training or simply escape from the hamster wheel, a sabbatical offers a variety of opportunities for personal and professional development. But what is the best way to implement such a break? Which legal framework must be observed? And how do you actually finance a sabbatical? In this comprehensive guide, we will address all of these issues. We also take a look at the social and mental aspects that play a role in preparing for and following up a sabbatical. Finally, we explain what the return to working life should ideally look like in order to make profitable use of the experience and knowledge gained. A valuable guide for anyone thinking about taking a break from work or making concrete plans.

1. The time off made possible: Introduction to the topic of sabbatical

A sabbatical is more than just a short break from working life — it is the opportunity to take a longer break and explore life beyond your usual work routine. But why are more and more people taking advantage of this opportunity and what could such a sabbatic year look like?

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical, also known as a sabbatical year, is based on the biblical concept of the Sabbath, a day of rest and relaxation after six days of work. Transferred to the world of work, this is a fixed break from work that is made possible by the employer.

Why a sabbatical?

The reasons for taking a sabbatical are as varied as the people who choose to take a sabbatical. The focus is often on taking a break from working life in order to develop personally, to collect new energy or to dedicate oneself intensively to a specific project. Many also use this phase for professional reorientation or further education, to fulfill a particular dream or simply to relax and regenerate.

Sabbatical options

The organization of a sabbatical is just as individual as the reasons for it. Some travel around the world, others use the time for a social or ecological project. Still others see a sabbatical as an opportunity for further education and complete a course of study, further education or learn a new language. It is only important that the organization of the sabbatical is in line with individual goals and wishes.

Although a sabbatical has mostly positive aspects, such a break should be well prepared and carefully considered. A number of requirements and frameworks must be considered, including legal aspects, financial concerns and planning the return to work. These and other aspects are discussed in more detail in the following chapters of the guide.

2. Using a sabbatical: From relaxing to continuing education

A sabbatical is a type of time off that allows employees to move away from their daily work and focus on other aspects of their lives. But how exactly can this time out be used?

From relaxing...

A sabbatical can be used as an opportunity to mentally and physically regenerate from work. During this time, you can allow yourself to live completely free of work obligations, travel, relax and do the things you love. Whether it's starting a new hobby, going on a long-awaited journey, or incorporating the need for slowness and relaxation into your life, the options are almost endless.

... until continuing education

Continuing education is another popular use for a sabbatical. This can include learning new skills that expand your career options, but also pursuing personal interests or a lifelong desire. Educational programs, volunteer work or self-directed studies are just a few of the opportunities for continuing education during your sabbatical. The key is to find an activity that you enjoy and that fulfills and enriches you at the same time.

But the most important thing when using a sabbatical is to remember that it's not just about performance. It's about breaking out of routine, restoring inner balance and having the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective.

By using this special time to relax or train yourself, you can not only return to your job with a rejuvenated mind and body, but also with new insights, skills, and experiences to enrich your future.

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3. Legal framework: Everything about applications and permits

When planning your sabbatical, you need support and information, particularly when it comes to navigating through applications and approvals. There are no universal legal regulations for sabbaticals in Germany, so it depends heavily on the respective company and the individual situation which requirements and processes need to be observed.

The agreement with the employer

The basic component of a sabbatical is a so-called “exemption agreement.” It states in writing that you have been released from your professional duties for a certain period of time and what conditions apply during this period. Many factors can play a role here, such as the length of the sabbatical, financial arrangements or the obligation to return to the company.

Sabbatical and employment law

Before you apply for a sabbatical, it is important to know that you have no legally guaranteed right to take this time off. It is up to your employer to agree to a sabbatical. Teachers and civil servants are an exception, who may be entitled to a sabbatical year under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, it is common practice in many companies to make sabbaticals possible, often supported by company agreements.

Work arrangements during sabbatical

Your exemption agreement can also specify whether and to what extent you may pursue other work or self-employment during your sabbatical. Some companies impose restrictions here in order to avoid conflicts with the main employer. This should be clarified in advance and recorded in writing.

Overall, careful approach and good planning are crucial to make your sabbatical legally correct and satisfactory for both parties. In particular, clear written agreements ensure security and enable you to enjoy your break to the fullest.

4. The social and mental preparation and follow-up of sabbaticals

A sabbatical can be an enriching and fulfilling experience, but it is also a challenge. Conscientious preparation and follow-up — both socially and mentally — are therefore essential.

Social preparation for your sabbatical

It is important to share your sabbatical plan with your colleagues and supervisors early on. This also includes ensuring that you are fully represented in your area of responsibility during your time off. It can help to create a handover checklist and arrange a handover meeting. Also think about your personal environment and discuss plans with your family and friends. It's important to have their backing and set realistic expectations.

Mental preparation for a sabbatical

There is certainly a lot of anticipation, but it's important to mentally prepare yourself for the break. You will break out of your usual daily routine and this change can cause unexpected feelings. Set goals for your break, whether it's continuing professional development, a creative project or simply relaxation. However, try not to set too many expectations to avoid disappointment.

Follow-up: Mastering the return to work

The end of a sabbatical can be just as challenging as the beginning. It will take time to get used to everyday working life again. A structured return to work is helpful here. Schedule a reintegration meeting with your manager to discuss tasks and upcoming projects. Also give yourself enough time and be patient with yourself.

Sabatical: An opportunity for self-reflection

Also use your sabbatical to reflect: What did you learn during your break? What would you like to do differently in your next phase of work? These insights can help you make your everyday working life happier and more balanced in the future.

A sabbatical is a significant step that requires careful planning and preparation. However, with the right social and mental preparation, you can ensure that this break becomes one of the most valuable personal and professional experiences.

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Vereine regionales Engagement mit steuerfreien Arbeitgeberzuschüssen und schaffe einzigartige Mitarbeiter-Benefits.

5. Financial planning and sabbatical costs: practical tips

A sabbatical is a worthwhile investment in your personal growth and wellbeing. However, the financial side of such a break must not be neglected. How do you plan the financing and what do you have to consider when it comes to the costs of a sabbatical? Here are some valuable tips.

Financial forecasting: How much does a sabbatical cost?

First, you should be aware that the costs of a sabbatical depend heavily on your personal plans and goals. Would you like to travel or complete an education program instead? Then you should include the costs of transportation, accommodation, course fees and other living expenses in your bill. Also think about unexpected costs. Thorough financial planning is therefore the first step towards your sabbatical.

Budget planning: preparations before the break

Once you have a clear picture of the expected costs, you should create a precise budget plan. Remember that you will likely receive no or only a reduced salary during your sabbatical, so you'll need enough reserves to fill this gap, at least in part. Factors such as rent, insurance contributions, and other ongoing costs should also be considered in your budget plan.

Needs assessment: What is really necessary?

A sabbatical is a good opportunity to review your spending and set priorities. Is the daily luxury café really necessary? Can some expenditure be reduced or even eliminated? A clear look at your current spending can help you identify effective austerity measures and thus make it significantly easier to finance your sabbatical.

Collateral: Have the financial emergency plan ready

Finally, you should also create a financial plan just in case. What happens if you run into unexpected costs during your sabbatical or if your savings plan doesn't work as planned? A solid financial safety net gives you additional security and allows you to enjoy your break without additional financial burdens.

Careful planning of your budget before, during, and after your sabbatical will not only help you enjoy your time off to the fullest, but also ensure that you're well positioned after the sabbatical. Because even though taking time off in the middle of our career can be hugely important for our creativity, motivation, and productivity, it shouldn't undermine your long-term financial well-being. Practical financial planning and preparation will enable you to make the most of your sabbatical.

6. Returning to work: successfully managing reintegration

After a temporary exit from everyday working life, also known as a sabbatical, it is time to return to work at some point. This transition can be experienced in different ways — from easy and seamless to challenging and difficult. Here you can find out how you can successfully reintegrate after a sabbatical.

Preparing for the return

The return to work starts during the sabbatical itself. Contact your employer regularly and keep yourself up to date with news and developments in the company. This way, you won't feel excluded or overwhelmed after your return. You should also consider which tasks and projects you could and would like to take on after your return.

The reunion with colleagues and supervisors

After you return, you should meet with your colleagues and supervisors and find out about any relevant changes. Also talk about your sabbatical — what you experienced, how you felt and what you learned. In this way, others understand your potential adjustment difficulties and can help you reintegrate.

The first working days after the sabbatical

The first days of work after a sabbatical can sometimes be exhausting. Plan sufficient recovery time and try to gradually increase your workload. Don't be too hard on yourself if everything doesn't go smoothly right away. Give yourself time to get back into your tasks and work environment.

Adjustments to working conditions

A sabbatical can change you and your perspective on working life. You may find that you want to do certain things differently than before. Talk openly with your manager about your wishes and needs. Adjustments may be made to your daily work routine to make it easier for you to return and continue working.

Overall, reintegration after a sabbatical is an individual process that can be successfully mastered with patience, openness and communication. Take the opportunity to incorporate the experience you have gained into your everyday working life and thus make your everyday working life enriching and inspiring.

Any more questions?

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A benefit card in kind is a tool with which companies can provide their employees with tax-free benefits in kind. The Regional Hero Card is a special benefit card that aims to promote the local economy. The card works like a prepaid credit card and can be used at all acceptance points that accept Mastercard. Employers can conveniently top up the cards with tax-free benefits in kind, which employees can then use in shops and services in their region. The Regional Hero Card provides a convenient way to provide employees with tax-free benefits while supporting and strengthening the local economy. It promotes employee loyalty to the company and contributes to the attractiveness of the workplace. The card can be used both online and offline and is supported by a user-friendly app that helps employees discover local offers and keep an eye on their available amount.

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With a benefit card such as the Regional Hero Card, companies can offer their employees various tax-free benefits in kind. In Germany, for example, benefits in kind of up to 600€ per year and employee are tax-free, in addition, 180€ per year and employee can be granted for personal events such as birthdays or anniversaries. The tax-free benefits in kind include meal vouchers, vouchers for local shops, leisure facilities or cultural events. The Regional Hero Card allows companies to easily and conveniently pass on these tax-free benefits to their employees while supporting the local economy.

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