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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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I worked as a care worker for 22 years overall. I had a month

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I worked as a care worker for 22 years overall. I had a month off annual leave to visit my brother and family in Australia in 2005. They have since moved to the Philippines and were initially visiting family in Stratford-upon-Avon for a month from 20th December 2013. I suffer from arthritis rheumatism and sad syndrome, I take steroids and my gp advised rather than take a summer holiday it would be more advantageous for my health to go on holiday in the winter to somewhere sunny and warm, for health reasons. My employer agreed the month off for the holiday but would not give me a sabbatical for the period my brother and his family were staying with us. His two sons of 17 and 21 years stayed with us.

Another member of staff had two months sabbatical Nov/Dec 2013 to have her mother with her, who normally lives in Spain, with her son. She has now returned to work under her original contract. The company sent me a letter saying they look forward to me applying for relief work in the future, at a vastly reduced rate of pay.

1. Could I legally have had a sabbatical, or career break without being forced to hand in my notice.

2. Is my case similar to the other care worker, who had worked for the charity for 10 years?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked for this company for please?


I started working for them Jan 1991, I left for two years in 1993, I rejoined in 1995 I then left in 1999 to train as a psychiatric nurse, but rejoined late 2001 and had to leave on 20th December 2013

Ben Jones :

OK, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you


ok thanks

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. As far as the law stands, there is no legal right to take a sabbatical or a career break. This means that if you wanted to take one, it would be at the employer’s discretion. This means they could decide not to grant you one at all or grant you one with certain conditions attached. For example, some employers would want you to hand in your notice and terminate your employment, then go off and they promise they would consider you for a job when you return. Others may simply agree with you that this would be treated as unpaid time off work and retain your employment in the meantime, allowing you to return either to your old position or any other vacancy that may be available.


So to answer your specific queries:


  1. No, there is no legal right to request or be granted a sabbatical – it is for the employee and employer to negotiate over that

  2. Yes and no. First of all, the fact that another employee has been granted a sabbatical does not mean that the employer has to do the same with you, especially if there is no specific policy in the workplace that guarantees you this. It is legally possible for an employer to allow one employee to go off on a sabbatical and prevent another from doing so, even if their circumstances were similar. You may use this as an example to argue your case but it does not give you the legal right to demand a sabbatical yourself. The main issue would be behind the reasons your request was rejected. You have the right not to be discriminated against due to a protected characteristic, which includes disability and which will most likely include your conditions. So if the reason for the refusal was linked to your conditions then it could be discriminatory and unlawful. However, if it had nothing to do with these then my advice above still stands and the sabbatical would have only been granted at the employer’s discretion.

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