27 February 2023

17 Types of Leave Offered by Employers Worldwide

types of leave

Employers across the globe offer leave policies that help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. Some types of leave are mandatory according to the policies of your nation or state, while many types of leave are offered as part of a comprehensive benefits program as both a reward to employees and to maintain a healthy working culture. Your leave policies may be designed as a competitive benefits package to attract and keep top talent or to provide your employees the breathing room they need to remain focused and productive when they are on the job.

This article will explore some of the most common and less common types of leave from employment, including their purpose, potential legal requirements, and best practices for employers to manage leave policies effectively across the board.

The 5 Mandatory Leave Types Worldwide

In every country, there are a few types of leave that are mandatory under fair treatment labour laws. These types of leave are not just required in name, but must also be structured according to laws to maintain legal compliance. While the details vary from nation to nation (and sometimes between states and territories), these five types of leave are the most likely to be mandatory wherever your company conducts business.

1) Annual Leave

Annual leave comprises a minimum number of paid and/or unpaid days off that employees must be permitted to have. Sometimes called statutory leave or mandatory vacation time, annual leave allows employees to take time off when they need it for personal matters, family events, religious observance, non-state holidays, travel, emergencies, and more.

Your HR team should be aware of the exact calculations regarding eligibility for annual leave days, how to calculate the number of days are mandatory, and how much pay is expected when leave days are taken. However, paid vacation policies that go above and beyond mandatory minimums are often used to create competitive incentive packages and company cultures.

2) Paid Sick Leave

Most countries also require a certain number of days or weeks in paid sick leave. In a world reeling from a recent illness, paid sick leave is now in the spotlight more than ever, as it becomes clear that employees coming to work while ill can have more devastating effects than just a low-productivity day. Both paid and unpaid sick leave allows employees to take the time off they need to recover from illness or injury without putting their job at risk.

Many companies offer more types of leave for sick days beyond the mandated minimum in order to foster a healthier company culture and appeal to employees who seek a fair work-life balance.

3) Disability Leave

Disability leave is more unique to each country. However, it is likely that your nation requires certain accommodations to be made for employees with disabilities including flexibility for doctors appointments and time off to deal with a chronic or recurring condition.

Disabilities that happened on the job are typically given additional leeway including ample time to recover and a gradual reintroduction to work without a loss in position.

4) Parental Leave

Paid parental leave is required in almost every country. Maternity and paternity leave often fall under different rules, but are both mandatory in most modern countries. Mothers are typically granted maternity leave for both pregnancy care before the baby is born and paid maternity leave after giving birth or adopting to allow for physical recovery and parental bonding. Fathers are typically granted at least two weeks for paternity leave in order to take care of the mother of their child and bond with the baby.

In many countries, adoptions are also granted maternity leave and paternity leave rights after the baby joins the family and sometimes to provide time for adoption meetings before the process is complete.

5) Leave for Public Duties

Countries that include public duties like jury duty or serving on a community council may also require leave to perform these duties. Jury duty leave and a leave of absence for public duties is typically unpaid leave, but without penalty so that employees are able to participate in their government or communities freely within reason.


Common and Uncommon Types of Employment Leave Around the World

After the mandatory types of leave are optional leave types. Some are common sense, allowing companies to build policies that support a practical work-life balance like compassionate leave or study leave while others are used as rewards or to provide for a unique yearly schedule due to your business model or holiday calendar.

6) Compassionate Leave

These types of leave are the single most common "optional" type of leave that most businesses around the world put into practice. Compassionate leave is sometimes called bereavement leave, allowing employees to take time for funerals and mourning when a close relative has died. However, it has also been used far more universally to provide time in any situation where compassion is called for.

Emergencies, sudden family illness, or experiencing an assault, for example, are all times when compassionate leave may be used. This type of leave often gives employers the leeway to use their own judgement for when leave is appropriate and access to suitable policies regarding notice, pay, and so on.

7) Time Off In Lieu (TOIL)

Some countries permit TOIL, or Time Off In Lieu leave. This type of leave allows employers to balance overtime with time off. It is a way to reward employees for putting in the hours when the business needs them most and provide recovery time after stressful long shifts or intense weeks of work. TOIL also helps to keep overtime budgets under control when a business experiences a significant ebb and flow in demand. However, TOIL is not permitted under all labour laws, so check your local compliance before implementing.

8) Unpaid Leave

Unpaid leave is a wildcard in the leave types, allowing employers to give their team members time off without specific commitment as to why or how long. By designating unpaid time, it is less necessary to defend the reasoning for time off or carefully track every hour. This gives both employers and employees some flexibility when it comes to needing an hour or extra day here and there, or to work around otherwise restrictive paid time off policies.

9) Public Holiday Leave

Some countries mandate that certain holidays be taken off, but many businesses choose a more complete holiday schedule based on demand and business model. You might provide either paid or unpaid time off for bank holidays, public holidays, or even company holidays in which you will send everyone home or need a much smaller staff on certain days that are also public holidays.

10) Religious Observance Leave

Many modern businesses choose to provide a unique leave schedule to those who participate in religious observance. Often, employees who wish to take religious time off can submit their observance calendar for pre-approval so that they will not be scheduled on days in which they will need to attend to religious holidays or family duties. Some employers offer a similar number of pre-scheduled days off to all employees, creating a space for religious observance without shorting non-religious employees when it comes to days off.

11) Election Day Leave

The ability to vote is important, and some work schedules naturally interfere with the times in which national or local voting takes place. Many workplaces provide a few hours leave during election days so that employees can wait in line and cast their vote without penalties.

12) Student or Study Leave

Study leave or student leave allows employees to seek further education and align their work schedules with class schedules. Employers who hire students in university often simply create part-time or custom schedules. However, specific leave may be necessary to provide for certain testing times or other school-related requirements. Employers who send their team members to get further education are also more likely to provide paid leave while training is underway.

13) Adverse Weather Leave

If your business is located somewhere that experiences seasonal severe weather, consider building an adverse weather leave policy. Heavy snows, gale-force winds, and flooding are all situations that can prevent people from coming into work. Weather systems that cause power outages can even prevent remote work. Be prepared to provide weather-related both before and after the fact, and assure your team that if they can't make it in due to harsh weather, there are provisions.

4) Duvet Day or Gifted Leave

There is a growing trend in casual leave and personal leave policies called Duvet Days, also known as gifted leave. When an employee does particularly well or you are looking to build an incentivizing benefits package, duvet days are paid or unpaid leave that does not need a reason. It could be a day to relax, to unwind from an intensely stressful project or season, or to make a long weekend at the right moment.

5) Work From Home Leave

There has also been a growing trend in work-from-home policies blending with leave policies under the banner of schedule flexibility. Employees may be able to schedule a certain number of days working from home in lieu of time taken completely off. For example, partial productivity sick days worked at home can allow an employee to keep in touch and meet some of their requirements, even though their capacity is diminished due to an illness.

16) Gardening Leave

Gardening leave is a unique type of paid leave that can allow a laid off professional (often an executive) to take their last few days off at home instead of at work. This is actually used as a protective measure to prevent sabotage or stolen work while honouring the end of an employment contract or notice period.

17) Sabbatical Leave

Lastly, sabbaticals are a time-honoured tradition and way to hold onto great talent despite the urge to wander. Sabbatical leave can last up to 12 months of time spent away from work without sacrificing one's position in the company. This means that employees may be able to travel and take long breaks and then return with their job security intact. Most sabbatical leave policies offer unpaid time off, but a rare few companies offer reduced pay to support their employee's refreshing adventures or enriching year of study. 


Payroll and Leave Made Simple with Shiftbase

Designing the perfect set of leave policies can not only help you achieve labour compliance within your country/nations of operation, it is also a powerful form of incentivization to attract and keep industry top talent. Whether you are seeking to create a supportive work-life balance, achieve compliant international business policies, or craft irresistible benefits packages, Shiftbase makes it easy to handle hour tracking and compliant paid leave policies across the globe. Contact us today to learn more.

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