Formal Leave of Absence Letter Request Example

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Do you need to take a leave of absence from work? If so, it’s important to put your request in writing, both for documentation purposes and to make it easier for your manager to understand what you’re asking for.

Asking for leave in writing also increases the chances that your manager will grant your request, and helps maintain your standing at work to minimize the fallout for your career.

The Process for Requesting a Leave From Work

The typical process for requesting a formal leave of absence from work is to discuss your situation with your manager or human resources department.

You should first write a letter (or, more typically, an email) to your direct supervisor requesting a meeting to discuss whether and how you should apply for a leave of absence.

In this letter, you should provide:

  • Your reason for needing a leave of absence (such as the birth or adoption of a child, personal or family health issues, loss of a loved one, or relief from excessive job stress)
  • The things you are willing to do to help prepare for your absence (examples: training your replacement, writing a detailed handbook of your daily work processes, or offering to remain available for questions during your absence)
  • The dates of departure and return to work that you are anticipating
  • A request for your supervisor’s assistance in helping you to negotiate the leave of absence process with senior management and/or your human resources department

    Once you have attended this meeting with your supervisor, follow up on the conversation with a written request for a leave of absence. This will go in your personnel file, in order to initiate the formal leave of absence process and to provide documentation so that your leave can be approved.

    Your company may have a policy in place for requesting leaves from work that specifies reasons a leave may be granted and how much time employees are eligible to use.

    Check your employee handbook for details. If a policy is in place, be sure to adhere to those guidelines for requesting a leave of absence.

    Dos and Don’ts for Requesting a Leave of Absence

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    It’s important to ask for your leave in the best possible way. The following guidelines will help you write a request that’s effective, professional and considerate.

    • Give as much notice as possible. It takes time to arrange coverage for your work and to deal with the HR requirements associated with leave.
    • Know your rights. The Family and Medical Leave act entitles many employees to unpaid leave to deal with medical conditions and family needs, such as the birth or adoption of a child or emergencies related to a family member’s active military service. Eligible employees who work for companies with 50 or more employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Find out if you’re covered before requesting leave.
    • Speak to your direct supervisor first, and outline your request in writing. 

    What to Include in Your Formal Letter

    When requesting a formal leave of absence, your letter should include:

    • Request for a leave of absence
    • The dates you expect to be away from work
    • The date you plan to return to work
    • An offer to provide assistance, if feasible
    • Thanks for considering your request

    See below for examples of letters requesting a formal leave, as well as letters and email messages specifying a reason for asking for extended time away from work.

    Formal Leave of Absence Letter Request: Written Example

    This leave of absence example letter provides a formal request for a leave of absence from work, following a discussion with the employee's supervisor.

    Your Name
    Your Address
    Your City, State Zip Code
    Your Phone Number


    Supervisor’s Name
    City, State Zip Code

    Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

    This letter is a formal request for a leave of absence, to follow up on our meeting yesterday. As we discussed, I would like to request a leave of absence from April 1 through June 30, 20XX.

    I will return to work on July 1, 20XX.

    Please let me know if I can provide further information or if you have any questions.

    Thank you very much for your consideration in providing me with this opportunity for personal leave.


    Your Signature (hard copy letter)

    Your Typed Name

    How to Email a Formal Leave of Absence Request

    Here's an example of an email message requesting a leave of absence.

    Subject: Leave of Absence - John Dooley

    Dear Jennifer,

    As we discussed yesterday, I would like to request a formal leave of absence from my job. I plan to be away from July 1, 20XX - December 31, 20XX, returning to work on January 1, 20XX.

    If approved, I would be glad to help with a plan to cover my workload in my absence. I would also be available to answer questions and provide assistance while I am away.

    Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you very much for your consideration of my request.