The concept of the sabbatical is based on the Biblical practice of shmita, which is related to agriculture. According to Leviticus 25, Jews in the Land of Israel must take a year-long break from working the fields every seven years. A "sabbatical" has come to mean an extended absence in the career of an individual to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book or travelling extensively for research.
Some universities and other institutional employers of scientists, physicians, and academics offer the opportunity to qualify for paid sabbatical as an employee benefit, called sabbatical leave. Some companies offer unpaid sabbatical for people wanting to take career breaks; this is a growing trend in the United Kingdom, with 20% of companies having a career break policy, and a further 10% considering introducing one.
In British and Irish students' unions, particularly in higher education institutions, students can be elected to become sabbatical officers of their students' union, either taking a year out of their study (in the academic year following their election) or remaining at the institution for a year following completion of study.
- Confederation of British Industry survey, 2005.
- Eells, Walter C. (September 1962). "The Origin and Early History of Sabbatical Leave". Bulletin, American Association of University Professors. 48 (3): 253–256. doi:10.2307/40222893. JSTOR 40222893.
- Kimball, Bruce A. (July–August 1978). "The Origin of the Sabbath and Its Legacy to the Modern Sabbatical". The Journal of Higher Education. 49 (4): 303–315. doi:10.2307/1979188. JSTOR 1979188.
- Zahorski, Kenneth J. (1994). The Sabbatical Mentor: A Practical Guide to Successful Sabbaticals. Bolton, Mass.: Anker Publishing. ISBN 9781882982004. OCLC 31393781.