Information and guidelines on Sabbaticals
What is a Sabbatical?
A sabbatical is a period of time after you have become qualified as a Supporter or Probationary Supporter when you take leave from active supporting but remain registered with the BfN.
We recognise that offering breastfeeding support is a significant commitment and that there may be times in our lives when it is temporarily not possible to maintain that commitment. At these times, a sabbatical will give you leave until such time as you are ready to return to active supporting.
After a break of over 5 years, further training will normally be required before you can be reregistered.
Helpers are not able to arrange a sabbatical in the same way as Supporter, but can still return after a break from volunteering – please refer to the Process for re-registration as a BfN volunteer after a break and speak to your Supervisor or Central Support for more information.
How do I arrange a sabbatical?
In the first instance, you should contact your supervisor, who will discuss your needs and make the arrangements for you. If your circumstances mean that this is difficult for you, you can email Central Support as an alternative.
There is also space to inform us of your intention to take or remain on a sabbatical within the Annual Return Form that should be completed annually, including during the period of your sabbatical. This is important to ensure we are not holding your details longer than necessary, should you decide not to return for any reason.
What do I need to do while I am on sabbatical?
There are three types of sabbatical, each with their own arrangements:
- Planned sabbatical / maternity leave within the current registration period
(e.g. if you are going to have a baby, move house or start a new job, it will be possible to arrange in advance to have up to six months away from active supporting)
- Sabbatical of over six months
- with ongoing learning and supervision
- with NO on-going learning and supervision
During all sabbaticals, you need to:
- ensure that your BfN membership remains up to date; and
- continue to submit an Annual Return at the start of each year.
You may remain on the appropriate email lists, and you are encouraged to mention that you are on sabbatical when posting to these lists.
Although a BfN worker may act as a representative of the BfN while on sabbatical, for example at stalls, talks etc., it is important (except in the case of planned sabbaticals) that you are not drawn into supporting situations. If you are unsure what is permitted, please discuss with your Supervisor in advance of any activity. This is especially relevant if you are also employed by BfN in another role
It is up to you whether you wish to participate in ongoing learning and supervision during your sabbatical and you may wish to discuss both options with your Supervisor before deciding.
When your sabbatical period is over, you should ensure you are fully up to date with the Code of Conduct (checking for any updates since you have been away) and your mandatory training, and follow the appropriate process outlined below before returning to active supporting for BfN.
How do I return to active supporting after a period on sabbatical?
In all cases, on return from sabbatical , you should ensure you are fully up to date with the Code of Conduct (checking for any updates that may have been made since you have been away) and your mandatory training. You should follow the appropriate process outlined below before returning to active supporting for BfN.
Planned sabbatical of six months or less
In the case of a planned sabbatical or maternity leave of six months or less, you need only inform your Supervisor that you are planning to return. You will need to complete your supervision and ongoing learning requirements pro rata for the remainder of the year when you were not on sabbatical. When you complete your Annual Return you should note in the comments the dates that your sabbatical started and ended, to allow this to be taken into account. All other requirements should be completed (e.g. DBS updates and mandatory training).
Sabbatical of over six months
Before returning from a sabbatical lasting more than six months, you should first contact your Supervisor to arrange an initial supervision session. This will be an opportunity to discuss anything you have learned during your time away; and also to begin to consider how you would like to begin supporting again and any support you may need to do so.
You will then need to follow the Process for re-registration as a BfN volunteer after a break and complete a Re-Registration Form (a linked copy is found within the process document above) to record that you have done so.
If you have been unable to complete any supervision or ongoing learning while you have been on sabbatical, you should contact your Supervisor to make the appropriate arrangements. These will provide you with an opportunity to discuss anything you have learned during your time away; and also to begin to consider how you would like to begin supporting again; an opportunity to look at recent research and breastfeeding issues and to consider issues that have arisen in the time you have been away; and a session on practical skills.
When your Re-Registration Form is fully completed, this should be sent to your Supervisor, who will sign to confirm and forward it to Central Support to be actioned. You should not resume volunteering until you receive confirmation that you have been re-registered (usually in writing from Central Support).