Leave of Absence

There are a lot of cases when you may need to take a leave of absence. It could be a family-related reason, like the birth of a child or perhaps an illness. Either way, it’s your prerogative.

In the following, we will point out all there is to know about leave of absence: what procedures to follow when requesting it, if it should be a formal or an informal request, how many types of leaves are there, etc.

Definition. What does leave of absence means?

A leave of absence (LOA) is a period during which the employee is excused from work or duty, while still maintaining his status. Leaves of absence may be paid or unpaid depending on previous agreements. Depending on individual jurisdictions, it’s at the employer's discretion to approve or deny the LOA request.

Types of leaves of absence

We must make an important distinction. The 2 main categories of leaves are the ones legally mandated and the ones that employers can offer voluntarily (without a legal provision to compel them).

  1. Legally Mandated Leave
    There a few leaves that employers must offer, but not all employers, only the ones that qualify.
    • The FMLA leave

      The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) obligate the employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of leave annually for a serious illness of an employee or an employee’s immediate family member, or for an employee to assist an immediate family member for qualifying exigencies related to military service. The FMLA leave is the most common type of leave of absence.

      Reasons for taking this type of leave:

      • The birth, adoption, or foster care of a child.

      • The worker’s own serious health condition.

      • The care of a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.

      • Dealing with the military deployment of the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent.

    • Military leave

      According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) rules that employers allow an employee who is a uniformed service member to return to their job after returning from military service or training.
    • ADA leave

      The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to employers with 15 or more workers. In this case, the employer must provide a short amount of leave (no period imposed) for accommodation, for example, a change regarding workplace policies or facilities.

    • Jury duty

      Employers in almost every state are required by legal provisions to provide an employee with a leave of absence in order to perform their civic duty. Whether it’s a paid or unpaid leave, it’s at the employer’s discretion.

    It’s essential to mention that vacation and sick days are not actually legally required at the federal level.

    It’s also important to note that many state and local employment laws provide more benefits for employees in terms of legally mandated leave of absence. Be sure to check your local laws on this issue and create your leave of absence procedure accordingly, to be compliant.

  1. Other types of leaves
    The next options we will discuss are usually variations of leaves that employers offer to employees as a part of the benefits package. In some cases, they could be required by your local law. Here are some examples:

    • Bereavement - This type of leave refers to employee time off from work offered when a family member, relative, or friend dies. In these unfortunate situations, employees will need time for funeral and burial arrangements and for attending the funeral ceremony;
    • Public holidays - In this case, employees are financially compensated during the holidays;
    • Vacation days - Such leave of absence may include time off for traveling or spending time with family;
    • Sick days or leave time for family illness (separate from FMLA) - for cases of illness, injuries or for preventing illness;
    • Maternity/Paternity - this type of leave is linked to the birth of a child(but also to adoption, if the case) and by granting your employees parental leave, you will be assuring them that your company cares about its people;
    • Personal leave - This leave of absence can be used for various reasons, such as a doctor’s appointment (without using the sick days) or attending a child’s kindergarten event (without using a vacation day);
    • Voting - this type of leave comes to attention only in times of elections - local ones, presidential or parliamentary.
Download the leave of absence form instantly, for free.

How to request a leave from work?

The process for requesting a leave from work should consist of 4 steps:

  1. An informal email to your direct supervisor in which you ask for a meeting to discuss a potential leave of absence;
  2. Attending the above-mentioned meeting;
  3. Writing and submitting the formal leave of absence letter/email;
  4. Waiting for the request to be solved: approved or rejected.

Now, let’s dive into the detailed procedure to request a leave of absence:

Step 1: What should you include in this first email?
The elements that you need to include in the informal email regarding your leave of absence, are the following:

  • The reason for needing the leave of absence (such as the birth of a child, personal issues, administrative issues to attend);
  • The steps you are prepared to take in order to cover for your absence (such as training a colleague to take over your position, helping your supervisor in choosing the best replacement);
  • The date you want to start the time off work and the day you anticipate your return;
  • A kind request for your supervisor’s assistance in supporting you negotiating the leave of absence with senior management or HR department.

Find below such an email sample:

From: Employee name
To: Direct supervisor/manager name
Subject: Informal email prior to the formal request for leave

Dear Mr./Ms. ………:

I would like to ask you to set a meeting in order to discuss a future leave of absence I need. I mention I need this leave for family reasons and I estimate it would take 5 business days.
Hoping to get a timely response from you,

Thank you very much.
Employee name

Note: Before requesting the leave, check the employee handbook - there may be details about the policy your company enforces about leaves. Also, you need to make sure to follow the specific guidelines for making a request.

Step 2. Meeting your supervisor and presenting your situation
During the one-on-one meeting, you can further explain your reasons and sustain your arguments. Be as transparent as possible regarding the reasons you have for requesting the leave.

Step 3. What to include in the leave of absence letter/email?
When creating the formal letter requesting a leave of absence, you should not leave out:

  • The formal request for a leave of absence;
  • The reason/s for the request;
  • The dates you anticipate to be off work;
  • The date you plan to return to work;
  • The offer to provide support, if suitable;
  • A formal thank you for considering your request.

Find below such an email example that you can use at your office:

From: Employee name
To: Direct supervisor/manager name
Subject: Formal request for leave of absence

Dear Mr./Ms. ………:

I would like to request a ten-day leave of absence for personal reasons. If possible, I intend to leave work on July 1 and return on July 11.

If approved, I will be traveling during this time period.

Although I will not be in the office, I would be glad to assist with any questions via email or phone.

Thank you for your consideration.

Employee name.

Congratulations. You are ready to submit your official request for the leave of absence.

Note: In order to adopt a considerate attitude, we suggest you give as much notice as possible, so the manager can cover your shift properly. Also, be sure you know your rights- those covered by laws and those covered by the employee handbook.

Step 4. Getting your leave of absence request approved
If your request is formally accepted, it means you are happy and your employer has found the perfect cover for the days you are off. But what if the request is denied? Will you continue to work there, or will you be forced to terminate the employment contract?

This decision depends entirely on the reasons for the leave request: whether is a question of “wanting” or “needing” those days off. Either way, you should have a plan in mind when submitting a LOA request.

We want you to have everything at your disposal, this is why we offer free downloadable templates, with just one click!

Leave of absence request form templates

A leave of absence request form is a formal document, that explains the reason, the leave type and period of your absence.

To save you precious time, you can use our letters/email/form samples to formally request leave of absence from work for one day or longer duration.

Leave of absence request form template

Letter requesting a leave of absence (medical reasons/sickness)

Letter requesting a leave of absence (personal reasons)

Letter requesting a leave of absence (marriage)

Letter requesting a leave of absence (family reasons)

Vacation and time off requests are some of the most common HR forms used nowadays, as it is essential for companies to track all time off taken by employees and to make the needed changes to payroll and salaries.