The number of companies offering sabbaticals as an employee benefit has been relatively static for the last several years, but there are several notable examples of organizations outside of academia offering paid sabbaticals for employees at all levels, and not just those in the executive suite.

A sabbatical policy should be clear and straightforward, focusing on five elements, according to Barbara Pagano, founding partner of yourSABBATICAL.com:

1. Length of the sabbatical: Can employees take one month, two months or does the period of the leave increase with service in subsequent leaves?

[Image credit: Bloomberg]
[Image credit: Bloomberg]

2. Length of service: How long do employees have to work before they are entitled to a sabbatical? Can employees take recurring sabbaticals?

3. Other eligibility requirements: Are there performance-based criteria? Are sabbaticals restricted to one class of employees?

4. Compensation on sabbatical: Will compensation be full, partial or is the sabbatical unpaid? Will employee benefits continue?

5. Company expectations: Must the sabbatical have an educational, charitable or research element? Do employees have to submit a plan outlining how their work will be done by others? Is the employee permitted to work for compensation or for a competitor while on leave?

Other issues to cover in a sabbatical policy are what percentage of the workforce can be on sabbatical at the same time and the obligations of employees returning from sabbatical.

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