A 'gap year/month' or 'career break' are basically the same thing. The definition we are using is 'time taken out of education or the workplace, for a purpose' The amount of time for 18-25 year olds can vary from about a month to as long as 15 months. For those in their late 20s, 30s and 40s the time period can vary from a month to about 2 years. It may also include family participation in your gap year travels, at home or abroad.
Career breaks or sabbaticals are basically the same - the term sabbatical tends to have been around longer . Career breaks are not always funded by the employer - sabbaticals are. Sabbaticals are often associated with academic staff in Higher Education.
Some employers demand the right to vet the type of activity undertaken in the career break eg education, childcare or voluntary work. Others allow the employee complete freedom of choice. A qualifying period of service is often required to allow a career break and then return to the same employer.
If there is no entitlement, don't despair. You need to present your case:
- Before asking, wait until you have worked for the company for a few years!
- Research your case well.
- Present it to your employer showing the benefits to the organisation as well as to yourself.
- Give your employer plenty of notice – six months at least.
- Think about how you will present your career break to a new employer.
- View it as career development.
- Involve your friends and family all the time.
- Consult your financial adviser.
- Switch most bills to direct debit.
- Look at Limited Power of Attorney over your property, finances.
- Plan for what you will do in the first month you arrive home.
Many people leave their job and take a career break without the guarantee of a job to go back to. It sometimes takes courage, but could be the start of a new and more rewarding life.