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Take care of business while you're away.

If your employer is unfamiliar with the concept of employment breaks, you could suggest some best practice ideas. Here is a list of issues you may want to address:

1) What will my employment rights be while on the break?

2) What other benefits can I keep (e.g. membership of the social club etc.)?

3) Will my job be guaranteed on return?

4) Can I do some work experience while on the break?

5) Can I take part in training courses or undertake assignments?

6) What other contact can I have with my employer in order to keep in touch?

7) When do I want to return to work?

8) Will there be agreement to flexible working on return?

9) Will I be able to have more than one employment break?

Different employers have different attitudes to the idea of employment breaks, therefore the best approaches to negotiation vary. Some employers may require a detailed application. Others may require a formal interview.

It is difficult to give guidance which will cover every situation. Nevertheless, the following advice below may help you to decide the best approach in your own circumstances.

1) Take time to prepare and carry out some background research.

2) Decide what kind of break you wish to take. Consider the length of time you wish to be away and look at the kind of arrangement you want on your return.

3) Identify your own skills and potential and consider the following:

The skills shortages in your profession or area of work;

Your employer's future developments and planned growth;

Your real value to your employer - how much has been invested in you regarding recruitment, training and development?;

What costs your employer would have in replacing you, your skills, experience and knowledge;

The value of employment breaks in replacing you, your skills, experience and knowledge

The value of employment breaks to improving employee relations, recruitment and retention and public image.

4) Refer to examples of employment break schemes and experiences of others.

5) Present your ideas in a positive way, either in writing or orally.

6) Anticipate the questions you might be asked. It can help to practise your answers. Talking to other people who have successfully negotiated breaks can help to throw light on the likely areas of questioning.

7) Be prepared to answer questions on the skills and experience you expect to gain while on your employment break.

8) Some employers might feel that by going on a break you will stop learning, lose confidence, lack commitment and quickly find yourself out of date. To counter these attitudes point out how you can overcome some of these problems and identify new skills you will be learning.

9) Discuss the possibility of a mentor being appointed who would be responsible for liaising with you and supporting you to make your eventual return easier and more effective.

10) Enrol the support of your trade union or professional association representative who may have helpful information.

11) Don't be put off easily.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 12, 1998
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