Hidden Problems within Sabbaticals and Other Professional Development Leave Programs

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From corporations to prestigious research universities, employers sometimes permit employees to take time away for extended periods. The names of these programs may vary, e.g., they may be related to a sabbatical or professional development leave. Benefits include improved employee morale, research development, and in some instances, cost savings if the employee is not paid at the full rate of pay for the entire leave period. The employee will often have greater discretion in determining their work-related activities during a sabbatical. The employee can also increase his or her value to the employer if the leave is used to conduct value-added activities, such as building credentials and authorship.

There are problems with these arrangements, however, that center upon how well the parameters for the leave period are defined. A poorly designed and managed professional leave program can create legal, tax, and financial issues that could have been prevented.

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