What is Leave of Absence?

A ‘leave of absence (LOA)’ is a formal arrangement in which an employee is granted permission to be temporarily absent from their job or workplace for a specified period of time, during which they are generally not expected to perform their regular work duties. Leaves of absence can be granted for a variety of reasons, including personal, medical, family-related, educational, or other valid circumstances.


Key points about leaves of absence include:

  1. Types of Leaves: Leaves of absence can take many forms, each with its own purpose and eligibility criteria. Some common types of leaves include:

– Medical Leave: Typically granted for health-related reasons, such as illness, injury, surgery, or medical treatment.

– Parental Leave: Granted to new parents (mothers and fathers) for the birth or adoption of a child.

– Educational Leave: Allows employees to take time off to pursue educational or training opportunities.

– Sabbatical Leave: Often provided to employees for extended periods (e.g., months or a year) to pursue personal projects, research, or self-improvement.

– Personal Leave: Typically used for personal reasons, such as travel, family emergencies, or self-care.

– Vacation Leave: Granted for planned time off for rest and relaxation.


  1. Employer Policies: Employers usually have specific policies and procedures in place for requesting and approving leaves of absence. These policies often outline the eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, notice periods, and whether the leave is paid or unpaid.
  2. Duration: The duration of a leave of absence can vary widely, from a few hours or days for personal reasons to several weeks or months for medical or family-related leaves. Some leaves may be intermittent, allowing employees to take time off as needed.
  3. Job Protection: Depending on the legal framework in the country and the specific policies of the employer, leaves of absence may provide job protection, meaning that the employee is entitled to return to their position or a similar one after the leave period ends.
  4. Pay and Benefits: The terms of pay and benefits during a leave of absence can vary. Some leaves may be paid, such as paid parental leave, while others may be unpaid. Employee benefits, such as health insurance and retirement contributions, may or may not continue during a leave, depending on company policies and applicable laws.
  5. Request and Approval: Employees typically need to formally request a leave of absence by following their employer’s procedures. Employers may require supporting documentation, such as medical certificates, to approve certain types of leave.
  6. Legal Requirements: Depending on the country and jurisdiction, there may be legal requirements that govern leaves of absence.

Leaves of absence are intended to provide employees with flexibility and support during challenging or significant life events while maintaining a connection to their employment. It is essential for both employees and employers to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding leaves of absence, as well as the specific policies and regulations that apply to their situation.