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 requesting.
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 in relation to your career.
The Process for Requesting a Leave From Work
Many companies offer leave benefits to employees. However, not all leave benefits are required by law. Some are voluntary incentives provided by an employer.
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 to answer any 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 be added to your personnel file, in order to initiate the formal leave-of-absence process and to provide documentation prior to approval of your leave.
Your company may have a policy in place for requesting leave from work that specifies circumstances where leave may be granted, and how much time employees are entitled to take as leave.
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
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 cover for your work role and to deal with your employer's requirements in accordance 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 comprising 50 or more employees are entitled to 12 working weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Find out whether you’re covered before requesting leave.
Your state may also have family and medical leave laws that provide for employee absences from work.
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 of absence, 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 City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
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 August 31, 2020, through October 30, 2020.
I will return to work on November 2, 2020.
Please let me know whether you require any further information or have any questions.
Thank you very much for your consideration in affording me 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
As we discussed yesterday, I would like to request a formal leave of absence from my job. I plan to be away from August 31, 2020 to October 30, 2020, returning to work on November 2, 2020.
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 whether you require any additional information. Thank you very much for your consideration of my request.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.