Leave of Absence

What Is a Leave of Absence?

A leave of absence is a period during which an employee is granted the ability to take time off work. Typically, the employee will request their leave for personal reasons, such as recovering from a medical issue, dealing with a recently passed family member’s estate, or the birth of a child.

A leave of absence may be paid or unpaid, but the main benefit is that it continues the employee’s employment so that they can continue to collect non-salary benefits, such as health insurance coverage, accrued vacation days, etc. It also provides the employee with job security since they will be able to resume their normal work after their leave is over.

Leave of Absence Examples

Typical reasons for taking a leave of absence include:

  • The death of a family member
  • The birth of a child
  • Health problems
  • Pursuing further education or training
  • Providing care to someone who is ill
  • Military duty

Differences Between Paid and Unpaid Leave of Absence

During a paid leave of absence, the employee continues to receive their regular salary along with any additional benefits they usually receive, such as health insurance.

In an unpaid leave of absence, the employee does not receive their salary. However, they are still guaranteed continued employment at their job when they return from their leave, and they will continue receiving non-salary benefits, like health insurance, vacation day accruals, etc.

When Are Employers Required to Pay for a Leave of Absence?

Some leaves of absence are governed by the FMLA, or Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law requires employers to grant paid leave to employees dealing with specific situations, such as bereavement and childbirth.

Paid leave may be required by law in the following circumstances:

    • Bereavement
    • Childbirth or other parental leave
    • Military duty
    • Jury duty
    • Voting (in some states)
    • Medical leave (for the employee or employee’s family member)


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