Are UK employers attitudes to career gaps outdated?

British workers are more reluctant to take a career break compared to other nations, due to fears that they will reduce their employability. However, by refusing to take sabbaticals or extended leave, they could be increasing their risk of burnout.

According to research commissioned by, UK employees, among other European nationals surveyed, are most likely to be allowed extended leave by their current employer, with one in five (20%) saying their workplace allows them to take this break.

However, more than half (54%) of those questioned believe it would be hard to return to work after a sabbatical. One in five (21%) feel it could make them less employable, while a further one in ten (13%) believe it will harm their career prospects.

On the contrary, almost two-thirds of people (61%) in Spain believe extended leave will help them in the future, in terms of employability, and more than half (60%) of those in Germany agreed.

Despite this, Brits are well aware of the benefits to their wellbeing that leave could bring. The research finding that a main motivator for extended leave is to get away from work-related stress. Over two-thirds (69%) of Brits believe that they currently don’t have a good work-life balance.

Three-quarters added (75%) that they don’t have a generous holiday allowance. However, UK employers were rated among the most generous of the nations polled when it comes to leave.

The research also found the difference between the benefits offered by UK employers, in comparison to other nations polled including France, Germany, Sweden, the US, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The difference between benefits offered by UK employers, in comparison to other nations (France, Germany, Sweden, the US, Italy, Portugal and Spain).

Benefit UK Worldwide
A generous holiday allowance 25%   22%
Flexibility around working from home i.e. for house maintenance visits 19%   17%
Time off in lieu for days worked over the weekend 16%   16%
Flexibility to leave early to catch a flight/go on holiday 15%   22%
Flexible working hours for parents to juggle childcare 15%   16%
Leave early on Friday 14%   19%
An unpaid sabbatical 13%   10%
A paid sabbatical 7%   9%
Summer Hours’ schedule i.e. 8-3pm shift 4%   11%
None of the above 38%   32%