Employers and work-life balance

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Work-life balance – Jargon buster

Leave options

  • Career breaks – a break from employment with an organisation, usually following maternity leave. The contract of employment ceases but the individual and organisation remain in contact at agreed intervals. The individual has a set amount of time (say 1, 3 or 5 years) during which they can decide whether or not to return to work, although their job may not always be held open Career breaks are increasingly being opened up to all employees including non-parents to facilitate personal development.
  • Holiday purchase scheme – a scheme that enables employees to buy an additional number of days’ holiday on top of their annual entitlement. The cost of a day’s holiday will usually vary according to salary and be taken out of an employee’s annual pay. There is usually a limit to the number of days that can be bought.
  • Parental leave – leave that parents or adoptive parents (both men and women) can take by law to care for their child after its arrival or adoption. Employers must allow parents to take the statutory minimum length of unpaid leave, but some offer enhanced provisions, such as paid leave.
  • Sabbatical – a period of unpaid leave granted at intervals for rest, study or travel. Can also be described as a career break, but is usually taken for reasons of personal development (or perhaps health) rather than to care for a child. Sabbaticals were originally granted only to academics.
  • Unpaid leave – absence from work for a set period of time, as agreed between the employer and employee. The contract of employment remains in force but salary stops. The employer and employee need to discuss whether benefits, such as holiday accrual, continue or not.





© Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005