We all, at some point in our career, need to take some time off work. For instance, you may have health problems that require prolonged treatment, serve on a jury, take care of a sick family member, or take additional time for the adoption or birth of a child. Whatever the case or situation, if you need some time off work, you should submit a leave of absence letter to your employer.
Unlike standard paid time off, which is used for short-term absences by employees, a leave of absence is used for long term absences that exceed your paid time off. Generally, a leave of absence is unpaid, but depending on your organization’s policy, the employer might pay for part or all your time off. You may also be required to exhaust your paid time off, too, before starting your official leave of absence.
Leave of absence letter
A leave of absence letter is an official letter written to the employer by the employee requesting a leave of absence from work. This letter is usually required by most employers to file them in the employees’ files. It provides a written record of the notice you’ve given your employer before needing the leave of absence.
The leave of absence letter documents the reasons for your request. Even though you can explain your situation in person, a written letter provides the exact explanation of your need for time off work. This makes it easier for your HR manager or employer to understand.
When is a Leave of Absence Letter Needed?
It is always recommended to write a formal leave of absence if you are requesting time off from work that is not covered by the sick days and the personal days already granted by the company. Before requesting a leave of absence, one must first confirm whether that time off should be honored according to the state or federal laws or the employee handbook.
The company, however, is required to give you time off without compromising your employment if you have been selected for jury duty. All organizations have their protocol in dealing with lengthy absences. The organization may decide to use your existing vacation days and any personal days to allow you the maximum amount of paid time off, depending on your situation.
There are common reasons why people request a formal leave of absence, including:
- Birth of a child
- Death of a family member
- Military duty
- Health reasons
- Care for ailing family members
If your situation is not covered under the company or state laws, it is still worth your time to formally request a leave of absence. Even though your company may not be legally bound to offer your request, it may still be to their benefit. A good employee with experience and an excellent track record is an asset to them.
Requesting a Leave of Absence
Requesting a leave of absence can be a troublesome situation- after all, your employer can never wish to have a valuable team member out for an extended period. To make the situation much easier for everyone involved, make sure to follow these tips:
- Provide Enough Notice: if, for instance, you will be attending to a family member who has a life-threatening illness, it is important that you inform your employer early enough of their sickness; this way, the employer will be expecting you to take time off work. Likewise, if you know that you will need some time off to schedule a medical procedure, do let your manager/supervisor know as soon as possible.
- Talk to your employer: don’t send the leave of absence letter without a word of warning. For you to get approved for a leave of absence, it is important that you speak with your manager/supervisor/employer face to face and in private away from your colleagues. Talk to them about your plans. This way, they’ll have a better understanding of your situation, increasing your chances of getting approved.
- Be specific: Honesty is the best policy. Be very transparent by being open and honest about your time off- this, of course, depends on your relationship with your employer. If you are taking time off to further your education, for instance, make sure that you explain how it will benefit the employer in the long run. If your reason is to look after a sick family member for an illness, you don’t have to dive deep into the details if you are not comfortable doing so.
- Your responsibilities at work: discuss with the employer how your work will be handled in your absence. Let them know how you plan to allocate your work while you are away; you can take with you a plan of action, where your duties are delegated to other team members to continue working on them while you are away. This shows that you care about your responsibilities at work and that you have been proactive.
- Consider any alternatives: let your employers know if you will still be able to work remotely during this time. This will benefit you both, as you will still be earning an income, and their work will still get done, meaning that the company won’t have to hire anyone else for the position.
How to write your leave of absence letter
Just like any other official letter in the workplace, one must abide by some formatting rules to ensure that their letter is presented clearly and professionally.
The letter should follow the below structure:
- Sender’s address: start of the letter by typing your address at the top right-hand corner of the page.
- Date: skip a line after the address and include the date- if you are sending the letter via email, this part is not necessary
- Subject: if you are sending the letter via email, you should include a proper subject name, e.g., “Requesting Leave of Absence.”
- On-Arrival notice: if you would like to include a notation that the letter is personal or confidential, you can do so (this is optional).
- Inside address: include the company’s address a few lines below the above- again if you will be sending the letter via mail, this is not necessary
- Salutation: even if you are a close friend with the recipient of the letter, you must address them properly in a formal letter.
- Opening Paragraph: start the letter with your reason for writing the letter. Make sure to include the dates that you are requesting to be out of work.
- Body: when writing a leave of absence letter or any other official letter, it is important that you be as transparent as possible and explain why you need to be absent from work. This minimizes any potential conflict that may arise between you and your manager. It also helps them understand you much easier.
- Final paragraph: in the final paragraph, explain how your work will be covered while you are absent, how you plan on making the whole process seamless, and lastly, how you can be reached in case of an emergency.
- Closing: Close the letter by appreciating your boss for the opportunity to work with them and for taking their time to consider your case. If you are sending a printed letter, make sure to include your name and signature. If you are sending via email, simply write your name and send it.
Sample Letters & Examples
Sample: Formal leave-of-absence letter request
__ [City, State Zip Code]
__ [Telephone number]
___ [Supervisor’s Name]
___ [City, State Zip Code]
_ [Last Name] Following our meeting yesterday, I am writing this formal letter to request for a leave of absence. As deliberated earlier, I would like to request a leave of absence from August 14, 2020, through September 14, 2020. I will resume work on September 15, 2020. Kindly let me know if you need any additional information or have any questions. Thank you for your consideration in bestowing me this opportunity for personal leave.
_____ [Typed Name]
Leave-of-absence email request
Subject: Leave of Absence- Quinton James
In regard to our meeting yesterday, I would like to request a formal leave of absence from work. I intend to be away from August 14, 2020, to October 31, 2020. I will resume my work duties on November 1, 2020.
If approved, I would be happy to help with a plan to cover my work assignments in my absence. I also wish to inform you that I will be readily available to answer questions and help while I am away.
For more information or further clarification, please let me know. Thank you for taking the time to consider my request.
Without leave of absence letter, there is no official record that you requested the leave of absence.
For instance, if you had a verbal conversation with your employer. The employers grant you the leave of absence, but they fail to record it anywhere in your employment file if your absence extends past the vacation days and the paid time you have accrued, you may automatically be terminated without any notice.
In some organizations, some rules fall under “No call/No show.” This implies that if an employee is absent without notice, they shall be penalized. You must always send in your leave of absence letter because, in some organizations, you might lose your vacation and sick days, and in some, you might even lose your position if you fail to follow the protocol of formally writing and submitting this letter.