At some point in your career, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to request a leave of absence from work.
It could be for various reasons, including personal or family health issues, childbirth or adoption, relief from excessive job stress, or the opportunity to explore through travel or pursue a hobby.
PandaDoc has put together a comprehensive guide that will help you write a formal letter requesting a leave of absence while you fully understand the circumstances that allow and support this act.
If you want to jump straight to it, you can use our free time off request form that helps you to customize your time off request form easily with drag-and-drop form fields.
And, if you are in need of other types of forms, check out PandaDoc’s library of online forms templates.
What is a leave of absence?
What exactly is a leave of absence, and how does it affect your job? A leave of absence is an extended period of time when you are not coming to the office/are not working.
If your company is casual or semi-casual, you may be able to just request time off from work, without having to go through any formal protocols.
Alternatively, if your company is formal and follows strict rules, you may need to go through a formal process to be accepted for a leave of absence.
A leave of absence is usually the result of an agreement between an employee and their employer. Your benefits may or may not continue depending on the type of leave of absence you take.
Is taking a leave of absence the same as quitting?
No, a “leave of absence” refers to a period of time during which an employee is not working in their current role but remains employed. During this time, employees may be paid and get benefits.
Time off to deliver and bring a child home, for example, is considered a paid or unpaid leave of absence, following which the employee returns to work.
The same is true for protracted medical treatment with no set deadline for returning to work. In essence, it’s an agreement between the employer and the employee that the employee will still have a job after whatever they’re doing away from work is finished or settled.
When you leave an organization, i.e., quit, all links to it are severed, and your income and benefits are terminated. In addition, a leave of absence letter has a different template to a resignation letter as their intents are different in nature.
What reasons are good enough to take a leave of absence?
There are numerous reasons to request an extended leave, including conditions not covered by the FMLA or any other labor legislation.
For instance, some of the most common reasons to submit a formal leave of absence letter are different joyous occasions employees want to celebrate with time off from work.
An employee may, for example, request a leave of absence to take a sabbatical, complete graduate school, or travel abroad for an extended honeymoon.
Believe it or not, some employees use the leave of absence if they are handling a big project, and they need time and focus to write a winning project proposal, a business case study, or something else critical for the firm they are in.
There are also some unhappy reasons why time away from work may be required.
A worker, for example, may need to grieve the loss of a friend or make funeral preparations for a relative.
When these situations don’t come with legal safeguards, your employer’s employee handbook may have procedures in place to help you cope with them.
What are bad reasons to take a leave of absence?
There aren’t many “wrong” reasons to take a leave. Experts suggest that if you ask the right questions, anything from a medical emergency to taking time off due to stress might be considered fair game.
If you’re taking a paid leave of absence and the timing is within your control, it’s probably not a good idea to spend all your money in the process.
Before taking time off, you should ensure that your finances and savings are in good shape.
Of course, there are times when you may be placed on a leave of absence without asking for it.
For example, if an employee is accused of improper behavior, the corporation may place him/her on paid leave while the allegations are examined.
Is the employer legally obliged to grant a leave of absence to an employee?
Except for medical leave of absence (i.e., sick days) covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)*, military leave, jury duty, and some other special circumstances, your employer is not compelled by federal law to approve your request or to grant paid personal leave.
Some towns and states have passed legislation allowing for paid sick leave. Under certain conditions, your company may offer you a paid or unpaid leave of absence.
*FMLA leave should have its own form.
Medical leave of absence request letter sample
Subject: Medical Leave Request – Georga Smith
Dear Mr Johnson,
For medical reasons, I’ would like to request a leave of absence.
I will be having pancreatic tumour removal surgery on February 10 and expect to return to work approximately four to five weeks later.
If necessary, I can provide written documentation from the surgeon.
Thank you for your consideration.
*If you are sending a hard copy, sign it by hand. If you are sending the letter in a digital form, use PandaDoc e-signature.
Voluntary and mandatory leaves of absence
There are numerous valid reasons to take a long(er) time off from work. In addition, some types of leave, such as maternity leave and paternity leave, are protected by federal law and fall underpaid time off.
Other leaves of absence, such as a prolonged vacation, may be approved at your employer’s discretion. As a result, it’s critical to understand which type you’re seeking.
What to do before you ask for a leave of absence?
Regardless of why you’re requesting a leave of absence, it’s critical to approach the request appropriately in order to get the leave authorized and keep your job.
Different rules apply to different types of the workplace:
- Casual workplace: When you work in a casual workplace, requesting and securing a leave of absence might be as simple as telling your supervisor, “I need to take some time off. Is it possible to take a two-month leave of absence from work?”
- Formal workplace: You may need to formulate your request according to corporate rules in more formal environments. The organization may have policies in place that specify who is eligible for a leave of absence and when and how often you can take them.
- Learn about the company’s policies: Make sure you’re aware of your company’s policies before making a request and that you’ve researched the employee handbook thoroughly. Read about labor standard rules in your country, too or the country your company is registered in.
You should also be prepared with a well-rehearsed explanation, whether you are requesting a leave of absence due to personal reasons or something else.
What is the best way to ask for a leave of absence?
Here are some suggestions for obtaining a leave of absence, along with sample letters you can use as inspiration for your own letter.
Be sure you’re eligible for a leave of absence
Examine your company’s policy on leaves of absence to see if your scenario is covered by it. Here are a few things to remember:
- Employers are required by the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide employees with unpaid time off for serious family and personal medical conditions, the birth or adoption of a child, child placement into foster care, as well as emergencies arising from a family member’s active military duty.
- Some states and local governments have passed legislation allowing for paid sick leave.
- Employees are also entitled to a leave of absence if they are called to active military duty or if they are called to jury duty.
- Employers are not obligated to provide you with a leave of absence simply because you request one.
Take a look at your options for taking a vacation
Consider how flexible you can be if your company is unable to provide you with the time you wanted before requesting a leave.
- If taking a partial break will help you achieve your goals, consider lowering your hours: A partial leave is sometimes the best option for all parties concerned. Your company may be more receptive to a part-time proposal, and you will have greater cash flow.
- Instead of taking a lengthy absence, consider a short work-from-home arrangement: Telecommuting, for example, may be great if you need to care for a sick family member. Alternatively, you might work from home four days a week and come in for a weekly check-in or meetings on the fifth day. Have a number of ideas and options ready that you can present to your boss if they are willing to consider them.
Leave of absence request letter sample
When putting together your formal absence request, make sure you provide all contact information necessary so your supervisor can contact you if needed.
Also, include your company’s contact information as well, along with the company name, address, phone number, ZIP code, and other relevant information.
Here’s an example of a leave of absence letter.
Oklahoma City, Yukon, ZIP: 73085
December 18, 2021
Mr Edgar Johnson
1234 Industry Avenue
Oklahoma City, Yukon, ZIP: 73085
Dear Mr Johnson,
I would like to request a sixty-day leave of absence for personal reasons. I would like to leave work on February 1 and return on April 1.
I will be traveling during this time and will have limited access to email and phone. However, if my request gets approved, I would be glad to assist with any questions via email or phone whenever I catch a signal.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
Before submitting your leave of absence request, plan your next steps
Will you be able to keep your job if your employer refuses your leave of absence, or will you have to resign permanently?
The next steps will differ significantly based on your reasons for the vacation and whether you’re requesting it out of wanting or necessity. In any case, you should have a plan in place for how you’ll react if your request is denied.
Prior to submitting your request, make adequate financial arrangements
Make sure you can pay your bills even if you don’t have a steady stream of income from your employment. You can generally rescind a leave request for financial reasons, but try to minimize embarrassment if at all feasible.
Consider potential consequences that concern your benefits
If you’re on leave for medical reasons, and under the FMLA, your employer is obligated to continue providing health care coverage while you’re away.
You will, however, be accountable for the same employee contribution to the premium that you were responsible for before your leave. Your employment benefits may not continue if you’re on leave for other reasons.
The best way to submit a formal request for a leave of absence from work
Before you officially submit your written request for a leave of absence, take the following tips into consideration:
1. Begin the process of taking a leave of absence with your immediate supervisor
Respect the chain of command, and speak to your supervisor first about taking leave. You don’t want HR or top management to be the ones to inform them you’ve submitted a request.
Also, don’t tell your coworkers about your desire to take a leave of absence until you’ve cleared it with your boss.
2. Outline your request in writing so that your boss can think about it before a formal meeting
Prior to your in-person meeting, you can send your request via email. Include the reasons for your request, as well as anything you’re willing or able to do to help with the transition, such as training your successor, developing a procedure manual, or answering queries while you’re away.
3. Schedule a meeting when your supervisor’s schedule is light
If you request a leave of absence when your supervisor is stressed, they may reject your request immediately. Be patient, diplomatic, and cautious.
Yes, giving as much notice as possible is crucial, but you should also convey your request strategically.
4. Allow as much time as possible for your employer to prepare for your absence
Your employer will be more likely to accept your request if you give them advance notice. This will make it easier for them to make a plan of action amid your departure.
If feasible, include the amount of time you’ll be absent, i.e., an end date to your leave, so your boss knows how to organize things.
If you can give an estimate of when you’ll return, your absence letter request will go over a lot better. Even if you don’t have a certain date in mind, it’s always a good idea to offer your boss a rough estimate of how long you’ll be gone.
5. Don’t include any legal ultimatums
Allow your boss to believe that they are in charge and that you can take the leave as a gesture of goodwill.
Legal protection can be invoked later with the help of your HR department if necessary, but legality should not be a concern in your initial request.
Why is it better to take a leave of absence than quit?
In a nutshell – there are plenty of financial risks and uncertainties that arise from taking a year off. Y
our source of income has dried up, so you’re surviving off your savings.
If you don’t return to work, that money will ultimately run out, and you will be broke. You lessen the chance of running out of money if you already have a job lined up for when you return.
A leave of absence also lets you relax as you know there is a job waiting for you once you are back.
It also eliminates some mental strain that may be interfering with your ability to concentrate on your time off and the purpose behind it.
Before requesting a leave of absence, make sure you understand your worth as an employee. It will help you make your case for taking time off.
Employers are more willing to accommodate leave-of-absence requests from essential team members since they don’t want to lose them as employees.