Why Brits are afraid to take sabbaticals

International research reveals that British employees are wary of asking for extended breaks from work even though two-thirds are tempted by the idea of a sabbatical.

A new survey commissioned by Opodo polled 12,000 workers from the UK France, Germany, Sweden, the USA, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The findings show that, within Europe, UK employees are among the most likely to be allowed extended leave by their current employer, with one in five (20%) polled in Britain saying their workplace allows them to take this break.

And almost two-thirds (65%) of British employees said they would consider an extended leave away from work. Motivating factors include:

  • To get away from workplace stress (50%);
  • Improving mental health (43%);
  • Improving physical health (32%).

However, more than half of Brits polled say it would be difficult to return to work post-sabbatical, 21% say it will make them less employable and 13% think it will harm their career prospects with their current employer.

When it comes to other forms of flexible working benefits that can help to improve employee welfare, the study reveals that British companies are lagging behind.

Three-quarters of employees in the UK don't believe they have a generous holiday allowance and 84% aren't offered time off in lieu for days worked over the weekend. Not surprisingly, perhaps, 69% of Brits don't think they have a good work-life balance.

The nation that offers the most flexible working options is Spain, followed by the USA and Germany. The countries that rated themselves with having the best ratio of work and personal life are Portugal (43%) and the USA (41%), and those who claim to have the least are Germans (27%).

A spokesperson for Opodo 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 … we're no longer simply working 9-5 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 you've always wanted - whether that's going travelling, learning a new language or skill, or just taking some time off to focus on yourself."

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