I want to take a break to travel. Do I have a right to unpaid leave from my job?

Outside the context of parental rights, such as unpaid parental leave, there is no automatic statutory right to unpaid leave. However, some workers in certain sectors may have a contractual right to unpaid leave.

Many employers do allow longer-serving workers to take extended periods of unpaid leave and return to their old jobs, as a way of keeping valuable staff who might otherwise leave for good. However, this is governed solely by a company's own policies. Consult your staff handbook to see what the policy is in your workplace.

If you are considering a sabbatical or career break, make sure you take good advice, thinking about issues like continuity of employment, pensions and keeping in touch with your employer. What will happen, for example, to your length of service if you are made redundant when you return from your career break?

How will your earlier years of service be treated? If you are careful, you may be able to agree with your employer that your pre-break service is to be preserved for the purposes of employment continuity while you are away from work.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.