What is a career break?
Am I entitled to one ?
When we use the term career break, we are usually referring to an agreed period of absence from our job. This might be to enable us study, obtain work experience, devote time to family or simply to recharge our batteries. The job must be held open for us on our return. Otherwise it is simply ending your employment.
Am I entitled to a career break or sabbatical in Irish law?
The short answer is no, unless it is covered in your terms of employment. I am referring to the private sector in this article. There are rules dealing with career breaks in the public sector.
In relation to your terms of employment career breaks may be covered in the contract itself , or more usually in the procedures manual. Even if it is not mentioned in the contract or procedures, there may be a practice in place for granting career breaks.
What should I look out for?
Check your contract, procedures manual and the practice in your workplace to see what they stipulate. Is a return to your job guaranteed, or does it offer the next available suitable vacancy? Is your employer hiring a short term replacement, who will cease in the role upon your return? if so, that should give you some peace of mind. It is important to get all of the terms agreed in writing before you take a break, otherwise memory can fade with the passage of time. Your replacement may be better than you. Unless you have it in writing then you are on thin ice.
What can happen when I am on a career break?
It is important to remember that you are still an employee while on a sabbatical. You can be made redundant,your employer can restrict the type of work you do, they can set the start and end date of the career break. It is important to consider all of the possibilities and get them covered in a written agreement before you take a break.
A career break must be offered on a fair basis, where the practice exists.
An employer cannot discriminate when offering a career break to its workers. There must be equality and fairness in the granting of a sabbatical. If you feel that you have been unfairly denied a career break, you may have a case for discrimination and or breach of conditions of employment against your employer.
Where can I get help preparing a written career break agreement?
Contact us using the orange Yes! Tell Me More button below and we will discuss with you the next steps to take.
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