A leave of absence letter is a formal letter that you write to your supervisor to request a leave of absence from work. A formal letter is needed for your personnel file. It gives a written record of the notice you’ve given your company prior to needing the leave of absence.
Your letter documents the reason for your request. While you can explain your situation in person, a written letter provides the exact explanation of your need for time off. This makes the request easier for your manager or HR person to understand.
The letter can be forwarded to other executives within the company, rather than relying on a manager to explain the situation. From a legal standpoint, this formal letter also records your request if your situation falls under situations protected by law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
When a Leave of Absence Letter is Needed
It’s a good policy to write a formal leave of absence letter in any case where you’re requesting time off from work that’s not covered by the sick days and personal days already granted by the company. Prior to requesting a leave of absence, you should confirm whether that time off should be honored according to the employee handbook or state and federal laws.
The laws dictating reasonable requests for leaves of absence (such as the ADA and FMLA) have specific stipulations. For instance, the company must have 50 employees or more to be required to adhere to FMLA. Your situation must also meet the criteria and you may need to provide documentation from a physician or other party.
In a case where you’re chosen for jury duty, the company must give you the time off without compromising your employment. Many companies have their own protocol in dealing with lengthy absences. They may offer to use your existing vacation days and personal days to allow the maximum amount of paid time off for your situation.
If your situation is not covered under either the law or your company policies, it’s still worth your time to request the leave of absence formally. While your company may not be legally bound to grant an extended leave of absence, it may still be to their benefit. A good employee with experience and a track record is a valuable asset.
Consequences of Not Using a Leave of Absence Letter
Without this letter, there’s no record that you requested the leave of absence.
For example, you have a verbal conversation with a manager. The manager grants your leave of absence, but doesn’t record it anywhere in your employment file or notify other executives. Once your absence extends past the paid time and vacation days you have accrued, you may be automatically terminated by the company.
In some companies, there are rules that fall under “no call/no show”. This means that an employee who is absent without notice will be penalized. It’s possible that you would lose your vacation and sick days, as well as the position, if you didn’t follow the protocol of formally writing this letter.
Most Common Uses for a Leave of Absence Letter
There are many reasons you might wish to take a leave of absence from work. Some of these are covered under law. Some of them may be covered under your company’s own policies.
These are a few of the most common reasons why people request a formal leave of absence:
- Birth of a Child. Maternity and Paternity leave are often covered under the company policy and FMLA. Your company may allow for a set number of paid weeks off.
- Death in the Family. Many companies allow for extended days off when there’s a death in the family.
- Military Duty/Family Member. Military leave of absences are often covered. This might include employees who are members of the armed forces. It might also include family members of the military.
- Health Reasons. Health reasons might include a surgery, ongoing medical issues, trauma caused by an accident, or mental health issues such as depression.
- Education. In some scenarios, employees will request it to pursue advanced training.
- Care for Ailing Family Members. Many employees take time off to care for family members suffering from an injury or illness.
What Should be Included in a Leave of Absence Letter?
Your letter should be concise and clear. There are a few pieces of information that are important to include:
- The Date. The date should be included at the top of the letter.
- Your Information. This includes your name, title or position, your home address, email and phone numbers.
- Your Manager’s Information. This shows a record of who the request was made to. It’s also the standard way you’d address any letter to an individual.
- The Reason for the Request. This would be a brief explanation about the reason you need time off.
- The Dates of Your Proposed Absence. Your letter should include exact dates.
You may have a discussion with your supervisor about the request prior to writing the leave of absence letter. In that case, you should reference the date of the discussion in the body of the letter.
Many employees write the majority of their correspondence through email. It’s fine to send this letter through email and keep the electronic verification of its receipt. The hard copy of the letter makes it more formal.
Sample Leave of Absence Letter
The sample leave of absence letter below details a request by ‘Chase Zeppeli’ to ‘Miranda Waller’ at ‘Starstruck Media, Inc.’ In the letter, Chase Zeppeli asks for a leave of absence due to medical reasons and specifies how long the leave will be.