Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board


A while back I was talking to a friend of mine (he runs his own consulting business), and he mentioned the only thing he'd done in the past 6 months was make a small boat for sailing around a nearby lake.  I asked him about his job, he said he was on a sabbatical.  Now I've heard about this for university professors, but never for Software Engineers.  His justification was that you get burnt out after a while, if you don't just take a break completely.  I'd have to say I agree, though I think he is in a rare situation that he can do that.

How many of you get to take sabbaticals from your job, or know businesses that support it?  The closest thing I can think of around my company is saving up 3 months of vacation and using it all at once.

Andrew Hurst
Friday, November 21, 2003

A lot of investment banks and management consultancies not only support it, but strongly recommend it.

This is especially so when one is moving up in the ranks of the company.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Intel employees get a sabbatical every 7 years.

Cowboy Coder
Friday, November 21, 2003

Well if you run your own consulting business, you can take vacations whenever you want. I took 6 weeks to go to africa, and 3 months to visit my parents back at the ranch where I did very little except drink lemonade and play golf.
I always take 10 days off at christmas. Next week I'm taking 7 days off (I'll be connected via wireless and phone, so it isn't a total holiday, but close enough)

Many consultants do the opposite, they never take vacations ever, because vacations are a double whammy to the pocket book; you lose money because you have to pay for the vacation, and you lose money because you are not working. However, for me the only purpose of work is to be able to afford vacations, so I don't follow that approach.

As far as corporate sabbaticals go, the multinational I'm doing a bit of contract work for does seem to have a year long sabattical policy for employees that have been around for a while. If you work for a huge well established company, and have been around for 5 years, and they like you, even if they don't have a sabattical policy, if you want to take a year off, you have a good chance of being re-hired if that is what you want to do.

the big problem with sabatticals, is rarely after taking one, do I want to go back to work!

Friday, November 21, 2003

In the company I work for all employees get a sabbatical every 7 years......

Nice benefit....

I only have 6 years to go :-)

Friday, November 21, 2003

Do you guys get Long Service Leave?

ie when you have worked for the same company for 10yrs+ you get a fully paid 3 month holiday.

As far as I know if you quit at 9 years and 9months you see nadda of it.

Aussie Chick
Friday, November 21, 2003

My company is right in the middle, in that they offer a sabbatical after five years of service, but it's nowhere near a year long -- it's a month. I've been around for just under four years. That's the good news.

The bad news is that I've heard (albeit not from a reliable source!) that our parent company will axe the sabbatical policy some day. I hope they wait a couple of years  :)

Friday, November 21, 2003

I took a 100 day sabbatical this year (summer), one of the best things I ever did. I highly recommend it.

Prakash S
Friday, November 21, 2003

I took a sabbitical last year to live in Warsaw, Poland for a year. :) And, yeah, at the time, I had my own company. I have a "real" job now, but I think having a position or your own company where you can take a sabbitical is totally the way to go.

Jim Buck
Friday, November 21, 2003

Being an aussie, I am probably thinking the same as Aussie Chick here when I say shouldn't you have a government requirement for this sort of thing - yes long service leave is compulsory and gives a you a 3 month holiday (that you can take in parts or in whole) after 10 years of service. - sure 3 months isn't a whole year and 10 years is a long time, but to tell you the truth I get bored by the last week if I take a whole month off work at christmas time, so I couldn't handle a whole year off.

And also this comment "My company is right in the middle, in that they offer a sabbatical after five years of service, but it's nowhere near a year long -- it's a month. " - in Australia you get a month of paid holiday every 12 months. How much do you get in the states? Also is a "sabbatical" paid or unpaid?

Friday, November 21, 2003

Typical paid vacation time for "short timers" (less than 5 years with the company) is 2 weeks. Plus about another week of paid holidays scattered around the calendar.

Yeah, it sucks.

Chris Tavares
Friday, November 21, 2003

Umm, I meant to put "Typical paid vacation IN THE US..."

Sorry about that.

Chris Tavares
Friday, November 21, 2003

Here, we get 6 weeks paid vacation time per year. In addition to this, there is a 1 year paid sabbatical every seven years. I used the last two to do research that was of interest to me and each sabbatical resulted in a couple of papers, though I'm not required to do anything. Some researchers just go on extended hiking tours in Asia, or build hot air balloons, or whatever. I'll probably do something like that at during my next one in 2008.

Regular employees just get the 6 weeks. Only the people who do research and development get sabbaticals. Of note is that executive-level people don't get sabbaticals. I'm sure the powers that be would like to change this so that researchers don't get any time off and executives get sabbaticals, but until they can pull it off they'll have to be satisfied wih merely making 34 times more than the top paid researcher here does.

Roger Townsend
Friday, November 21, 2003

I get 4 weeks paid vacation per year, and three months long service leave (you could call it a sabbatical) after 10 years in the job (I have 9 years, 4 months to go). In Australia, by the way.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

I took a sabbatical for 5 months of 2001. It was called "being laid off". I don't recommend doing it that way, though. :-p

Brad Wilson (
Saturday, November 22, 2003

Ya, its really sad that there is so much pressure to find a job after being laid off, as if your value as an employee is somehow inversely correlated to the amount of time it takes to find a new one.  Assuming that there is some savings to live off of, this seems like a natural time to take a break.

Which brings up the question... do all of you folks talking about mandatory sabbaticals continue to receive full salary?

Scot Doyle
Saturday, November 22, 2003

Andrew wrote
>His justification was that you get burnt out after a while, if you don't just take a break completely<

I'm feeling that way a little as I get older. I used to love programming/development with a passion, I still enjoy it but wonder if a sabattical would restore the joy. I can't see it happening as I work for a small company but agree that company bosses should look at this and allow - even unpaid - free time.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

I am going to take a sabattical from May to September on reduced pay...fair enough I suppose. I have some ideas about what i want to do however I haven't started concrete planning yet. Has anyone any thoughts on this?

Tim Allen
Sunday, March 28, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home