How To Write a Leave of Absence Request (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 31, 2022 | Published November 21, 2018

Updated May 31, 2022

Published November 21, 2018

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

At some point in your career, you may need to take extended time off work. For example, you may have a health problem that requires prolonged treatment, need to care for a sick family member, serve on a jury, or take additional time for the birth or adoption of a child. Whatever the case, if you need extended time away from work, you should submit a leave of absence request to your employer.

In this article, we offer several tips to help you compose a professional leave of absence request that appropriately addresses you and your employer’s needs.

What is a leave of absence?

Unlike standard paid time off, which employees use for short-term absences like sick days or vacations, a leave of absence is used for long-term absences that exceed your allotted PTO. Generally, an LOA is unpaid, but some employers might pay for part or all of your time off. Some employers may also require you to exhaust your remaining PTO before starting your official LOA.

Related: How To Know When It Is Time To Leave a Job

What is the Family Medical Leave Act?

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act ensures eligible employees can take up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave per 12-month period for things like the birth or adoption of a child, or a serious health condition affecting the employee or someone in their immediate family and military leave.

You may be eligible for FMLA if:

  • You work for an employer covered by FMLA.

  • You have worked for your employer for a minimum of 12 months.

  • You have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave.

  • You work at a location that employs at least 50 employees (or has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius).

Before taking a leave of absence, it is important to study your company’s leave policy. This can help you learn whether you are FMLA eligible and if your employer is likely to grant your request. If your employer does not have a leave policy or does not want to grant you a leave, taking the time off without their approval could be considered job abandonment or resignation—both of which are grounds for termination. Always consult with your organization’s human resources department before writing a leave of absence request or temporarily leaving your job.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Maternity Leave

Requesting a leave of absence

There are a few things you should do before you submit your leave of absence request to your employer:

1. Familiarize yourself with your employer’s leave of absence policy

Some employers have a leave policy that outlines which circumstances are covered, as well as specific requirements and a process for applying. Check your employee handbook for information about a leave of absence (LOA) policy, or contact human resources to make sure you’re taking all the required steps.

2. Determine the approximate duration of your LOA

If you’re able, identify when your leave of absence will begin and end. In some situations, such as when you are experiencing a medical problem or acting as the primary caregiver to a loved one, you may not know when you will be able to return to work. However, providing an estimate will help your supervisor determine an appropriate plan for covering your work while you are away.

3. Schedule a one-on-one meeting with your direct supervisor

Be sure to schedule time with your supervisor as soon as you know you will need to take extended leave. By giving them notice, they’ll have time to plan for your absence. This might include hiring a contractor, distributing your workload among other team members, shifting project timelines and making sure the transition to and from your LOA goes smoothly for all parties.

4. Put your request in writing

Carefully compose a letter to your supervisor and be as detailed and transparent as possible. Because some employers may ask for a doctor’s note, you may want to have a document signed by your physician ahead of time. If you do not feel comfortable sharing the details of your circumstances, you can request leave using more generic terms such as “personal reasons” or “medical reasons.”

Leave of Absence Letter Format

Image description

Leave of Absence Letter Format

  1. Date

  2. Recipient company and address (name of optional)

  3. Request

  4. Statement of gratitude and next steps

  5. Closing and signature

5. Consider whether there are any alternatives

In some cases, if you can work, you can negotiate another arrangement with your employer. For example, you might take on temporary part-time work, flexible hours, work from home or telecommute. This way you can still earn income and your supervisor may not need to delegate your work.

6. Communicate your leave of absence

Work with your employer to determine how and when is best to communicate your leave to the rest of your team. Your employer might have a specific process for this, so follow their instruction when communicating. While some employers might announce your leave to all of your colleagues, others might just speak with those that work directly with you.

Related: When To Ask For a Leave of Absence

Example leave of absence request letters

Please keep in mind that the Family and Medical Leave Act has specific documentation you should use. For non-FMLA leave, here are two examples of leave of absence letters you can use to help you craft your leave request.

Please note that these are examples and should not be copied for use.

Medical leave of absence

Aug. 8, 20XX

Roberto Diaz
ABC Company, Inc.
1234 E. Main St.
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Mr. Diaz,

I am writing to request a one-month medical leave of absence beginning Monday, Sept. 10, and ending Wednesday, Oct. 10. I will be having surgery—my surgeon has ordered a minimum three-week recovery period (see doctor’s signed recommendation attached.)

I am happy to assist in handling any necessary preparations before beginning my leave, including training colleagues on upcoming projects. Thank you so much for your understanding.

Dave Smith

Personal leave of absence

Feb. 1, 20XX

Deborah Jones
ABC Company, Inc.
1234 E. Main St.
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Ms. Jones,

I am submitting this request for a leave of absence to tend to important personal matters beginning next month. If possible, I would like to take my leave beginning March 15 and return to the office on April 3, 20XX.

I can make myself available intermittently to answer questions via phone or email, and am happy to do whatever is necessary to ensure a smooth transition before my leave begins.

Thank you for your consideration.

Johanna Jansen

When submitting a leave of absence request, it’s important to be as professional and timely as possible. By using these tips, you can ensure your employer understands your need for extended leave and increase your chances of getting the time off you request.

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