Can I Get A Leave Of Absence From Work?

Understanding the nuances of taking a leave of absence from work is crucial for every employee. While everyone might feel the need for a break at some point in their career, it’s essential to know when and how you can legally and professionally ask for one. 

This article will provide a step-by-step guide on understanding and requesting a leave of absence from your workplace.

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1. Understand What a Leave of Absence Is

A leave of absence (LOA) is a period where an employee is allowed to be away from work but still remains employed. It’s different from regular vacation days or public holidays. An LOA might be paid or unpaid, depending on the employer’s policies and the reason for the leave.

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Real-life example: Jane, a software engineer, took an LOA to care for her ailing mother. During this period, she wasn’t working but was still associated with her company.

2. Know The Different Types of Leave

Before you approach your employer, understand the types of leaves available:

Table: Types of Leaves and Their Purposes

Type of LeavePurpose
Medical LeaveFor personal or family health reasons
Maternity/Paternity LeaveFor childbirth or adoption
Personal LeavePersonal reasons not covered by other leaves
Educational LeavePursuing further studies
Military LeaveJoining active military duty

3. Check Your Company’s Policy

Every company has its own set of rules when it comes to leaves of absence. Refer to your employee handbook or HR portal. Some companies might require you to have been employed for a certain period before you’re eligible for an LOA.

List of Things to Check in Company’s Policy:

  • Duration of the leave
  • Paid or unpaid leave provisions
  • Documentation required
  • Process for applying

4. Have a Valid Reason

While personal reasons are valid, remember that an LOA might be a significant period away from work. Employers prefer concrete reasons. If it’s for health, family care, or education, be prepared to provide necessary documentation.

Real-life example: Mike, a marketing manager, wanted to take a sabbatical to travel. He discussed his reasons, how he’d manage his responsibilities, and even provided a tentative return date to his employer.

5. Discuss with Your Supervisor

Before formally applying, have a candid conversation with your supervisor. Explain your reasons and how you plan to ensure that your absence doesn’t negatively impact the team or projects.

6. Make a Formal Request

Once you’ve done your research and had preliminary discussions, it’s time to formally request your LOA. This might involve filling out a form or writing a letter.

List of Things to Include in Your Request:

  • The reason for the leave
  • The start and end date
  • Your plan during the absence (if applicable, e.g., remote check-ins)
  • Any supporting documentation

7. Plan Your Handover

Ensure a smooth transition by handing over your responsibilities to a colleague. Provide them with all necessary information and resources.

Table: Handover Checklist

TaskDetails/InstructionsContact Point
Project AUpdate client every TuesdayClient’s Email/Number
Monthly ReportUse the template in the driveHR Manager
Team MeetingEvery Thursday at 3 PMTeam Lead

8. Stay in Touch (If Necessary)

If you’re open to it and it’s feasible, offer to check in occasionally. This can be especially useful if you’re on a longer leave.

9. Respect the Agreed Terms

Once your LOA is approved, ensure you stick to the agreed terms. If you need an extension or wish to return earlier, communicate this as soon as possible.

10. Smooth Re-entry

When you’re about to return, inform your employer in advance. This will help in a smoother transition back to your role.

Real-life example: After her maternity leave, Sophia reached out to her team two weeks prior to her return. This helped her team prepare and reintegrate her seamlessly.


A leave of absence is more than just a break from work; it’s a period of personal or professional necessity. By understanding the process and maintaining open communication with your employer, you can ensure that your LOA is a smooth and beneficial experience for both parties. Remember, every individual and situation is unique, so tailor this guide to best fit your needs.