50% of UK employees take a sabbatical to escape the stress of working life


Half (50%) of respondents in the UK take a sabbatical in order to get away from the stress of working life, according to research by Opodo.co.uk.

Its survey of 2,000 UK employees and 10,000 employees from across France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the US, also found that 13% of UK-based respondents believe that taking a sabbatical will harm their career prospects with their current employer, and 21% feel it could make them less employable.

The research also found:

  • 43% of respondents from the UK would take a sabbatical to help improve their mental health, and 32% would go on sabbatical to improve their physical health.
  • 75% of UK-based respondents do not think they have a generous holiday allowance, 84% are not offered time back in lieu for days worked over the weekend, and 69% of British respondents do not think they have a good work-life balance.
  • 43% of respondents based in Portugal feel they have a good ratio of work and personal life, compared to the US (41%) and Germany (27%).
  • 29% of Spanish respondents are offered a summer-hours arrangement, compared to the worldwide average of 11%, and 37% of US-based respondents feel they have a generous holiday allowance compared to the worldwide average of 22%.
  • 19% of UK-based respondents are offered flexibility around working from work for events such as house maintenance visits, 15% of UK respondents are provided with flexible working hours for parents to juggle childcare, and 14% have permission to leave early on a Friday.
  • 65% of British respondents would consider an extended leave away from work, and 20% say their workplace allows them to take this break.
  • 54% of UK-based respondents believe it would be hard to return to work after taking a sabbatical, however 61% of Spanish respondents feel extended leave will help them in the future in terms of employability, compared to 60% of German respondents and 49% of French respondents.
  • 28% of respondents in the UK take a sabbatical to travel with their family, compared to 26% who travel with their partner, 17% who travel alone and a further 17% who travel with friends.
  • 13% of UK respondents undertake a sabbatical to gain experience in a new field of work, 14% take a sabbatical to reassess their career path and 18% go on sabbatical to complete a course or learn a new skill.

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A spokesperson at Opodo.co.uk said: “It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the stress of working life, particularly now we are working longer hours until later in life. Given to the advancements in modern technology, many now also have their work emails and calendar synced to their phone, meaning we’re no longer simply working nine to five, but are clocked on 24/7.

“Taking a sabbatical can be a great release valve for this stress and offer the opportunity to do something [employees have] always wanted; whether that’s going travelling, learning a new language or skill, or just taking some time off to focus on [themselves].”