Why Request a Leave of Absence? (Plus Steps and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

You may submit a request for a leave of absence to your employer if you want some time off from your work. Requesting a leave of absence can help your employer plan for the workload and deadlines you might not be able to meet while you're away. Learning how to request a leave of absence can help improve the chances of approval. In this article, we discuss why you might request a leave of absence, list some common reasons employees take a leave of absence and answer some common frequently asked questions about requesting a leave of absence.

Related: How to Apply for Leave at an Office (With Example)

Why request a leave of absence?

The answer to the question, "Why request a leave of absence?" is that submitting a request for a leave of absence clarifies your desire for time off, gives a preliminary notice to your employer and follows business protocols. It's important to request a leave of absence if you can't work for more than a week, but you still want to return to work. Asking for a leave of absence can help you maintain a positive relationship with your supervisor or manager and improve the chances of your request being granted by them.

Common reasons to request a leave of absence

Deciding on a reason to request a leave of absence is important since it determines the chances of its getting accepted. While it's common to have more than one reason, consider selecting the most strong and relevant one to increase the acceptance potential of your request. Here are some common reasons to request a leave of absence:

  • Maternity: Childbirth and managing maternity are the most common reasons for requesting leaves of absences. Most companies have accommodating policies for extended leaves for maternity reasons.

  • Medical reasons: A medical condition or illness can be sudden and a strong reason to include in a leave request. You can provide a doctor's note to your supervisor along with your request to verify it.

  • Education: Your situation may require you to prepare for exams or choose to dedicate a concentrated time to your studies. It can be helpful to discuss your goals about your supervisor and express how your education may help your working credibility.

  • Bereavement: The death of a loved one may require you to take some time off to grieve and adjust. Although giving an estimated return date may be difficult, it can help you mourn in peace and keep your supervisor updated on the situation.

  • Relocation: While undergoing a relocation process, you might want to take some time off work. An extended leave can help you adjust to your new surroundings and living situations.

Related: How to Ask for a Day Off (With Email Template and Example)

How to request a leave of absence from work

Here are the steps you can take when requesting a leave of absence from work:

1. Determine your goals

You can begin preparing for requesting your leave by considering what you want to achieve from a leave of absence. You may want to take some time off to recover from a medical condition, create time for studying or manage your relocation process. By deciding on the overall goal, you can decide on the duration of your leave and build a strong basis for negotiation.

2. Learn about your company policies for requesting a leave of absence

Review the policies your company has regarding a leave of absence before composing your leave of absence letter. You can ask your HR department or review your employee manual to learn about your company's leave policies. Consider looking for leave benefits such as paid time off to plan your leave accordingly. By researching the policies and the leave benefits beforehand, you can understand the formal procedures to follow to prepare a well-written request for a leave of absence.

3. Choose the duration for your leave of absence

Next, select the duration of your leave of absence. It's important to consider a duration that justifies your reason and isn't too excessive as employers may not approve excessive leave requests without valid reasons. At times, you may not be aware of your specific date of return, such as if you or your relative are suffering from an illness and are unaware of the recovery time. In such circumstances, it's best to present an estimated date of return and remain in contact with your supervisor to keep them informed.

Related: How to Take a Year Off Work (With Steps and Benefits)

4. Consider the tasks you may leave behind

Your leave can have a direct impact on your coworkers and supervisors, so it's important to consider the workload and the tasks you may shift to others when you take your leave. You can finish your top priority duties in advance and decide on tasks that you can postpone until your return. Your supervisor may feel more inclined to grant you leave if you have already completed a big project or task. Talking with your coworkers and managing your schedule can help you take a leave at a time that is considerate of everyone.

5. Compare your options

With the essentials sorted, you can meet with your manager and evaluate the options you have available. You may have the option to work from home or reduce your work hours so that you may be able to continue working with more flexibility. If this approach doesn't work for you, try to estimate your availability during your leave and convey it to your manager.

6. Submit a leave of absence letter

After you have reviewed the steps above, consider creating your formal leave of absence letter that informs your employer about your intention of taking a leave. Submit this letter to your manager or whoever else you're supposed to notify. When writing your letter, it is best to remain straightforward and honest so that your manager understands your situation. It isn't necessary to include personal details you aren't comfortable sharing. You may say you're taking leave for personal reasons if you wish to keep the details private.

Related: How to Ask for a Day Off (With Email Template and Example)

7. Notify your colleagues

Once you've submitted your request for leave, inform your colleagues and the rest of your team about your absence. You may notify them yourself or have someone do it for you. If you work directly with your colleagues or rely on their work for any reason, make sure to give them formal notice. Doing so can help them plan for a change in their tasks and make any adjustments.

8. Offer to help

If you're able to, it's common professional etiquette to assist your manager in making plans to manage your workload while you're away. You could offer to help find or train a temporary replacement. You can also explain your workload to your colleagues or leave instructions about your typical duties to ensure a steady workflow even in your absence.

Frequently asked questions about requesting a leave of absence

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about requesting a leave of absence:

How can you prepare to return to work?

To prepare for your return to work, you can contact your manager to gain a better understanding of the tasks and workload awaiting your return. Reorienting yourself with your work environment and taking the initiative to understand the recent changes is vital to your return. To quickly adapt back to your work, consider creating a work planner that outlines your tasks and deadlines for the future before you take your leave of absence.

Related: How to Take a Career Break and Come Back Feeling Recharged

What can you do if your supervisor denies your leave of absence letter?

Supervisors often deny requests for leaves if an employee can't provide a valid reason or if the request doesn't meet the company's policy. In this case, you may ask your HR manager for a reconsideration. Try communicating your reasons clearly for taking a leave of absence by providing supporting information, such as your exam schedule or letter from your institution's head for an immediate study leave if you're requesting the leave of absence to focus on your studies.

How can you ask for an extension on your leave of absence?

Your supervisor may extend your leave if your situation is reasonable. You can ask for an extension by contacting your supervisor and informing them about the situation. By setting reasonable deadlines and planning your future work capacity to adjust the workload, you can get an extension on your leave. It's important to express your gratitude to your supervisor for their understanding.

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