Understanding Leave of Absence: Impact on Career and Salary

employee walking away

This article will discuss what a leave of absence is, why people take them, how they affect your job security and salary potential and give advice on when to consider requesting one.

What is a leave of absence?

A leave of absence (LOA) is a period away from work granted to employees by their employers. One can use it for various reasons, such as personal health issues, family emergencies, or extended vacations. During this period, the absent individual remains an employee of the company.

Leaves of absence can be paid, or unpaid leave of absence and may be taken for various reasons, including personal or medical issues, family responsibilities, or educational opportunities.

Useful Read: What does Paid Time Off Mean? Everything Managers Need to Know

Employees need to be familiar with their company's policies and procedures for requesting a leave of absence and any applicable federal or state laws that may provide job protection or other rights during a leave of absence.

What is the best way to request a leave of absence?

The best way to request a leave of absence is to approach your employer as soon as possible, ideally several weeks in advance. This allows you and your employer to plan and make necessary arrangements for your absence.

When requesting a leave of absence, it is essential to be clear about the reason for your request and the duration of the leave. You should also provide any necessary documentation, such as a doctor's note if the leave is for medical reasons.

It is important to be respectful and professional in your request and to understand that your employer may have questions or concerns. It would help if you were prepared to discuss potential impacts on your work and the company and suggest solutions or arrangements.

Reasons for taking time off under the FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides certain employees with the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in 12 months to care for a new child, a seriously ill immediate family member, or their serious health condition. The FMLA also provides for military family leave, which allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a severe injury or illness.

Best leave of absence practices

handsome-businessman-leaving-office-2022-04-06-19-17-07-utc_50There are several best practices for taking a leave of absence, whether mandatory or voluntary. These include:

  • Communicating with your employer: It is essential to keep your employer informed about your leave, including the reason for the leave and your expected return date. You should also communicate about any changes or updates to your leave, such as if you need to extend your leave.

  • Planning for your return to work: Before you take a leave, it is important to consider how you will transition back to work. This may include arranging for coverage of your work responsibilities or making arrangements to work a reduced schedule or part-time upon your return.

  • Respecting your employer and coworkers: Taking a leave of absence can impact your coworkers and employer, so it is important to consider their needs and do what you can to minimize disruptions.

  • Understanding company policies: You should be familiar with your company's policies on leaves of absence, including how to request a leave and any requirements or procedures that must be followed. This information may be provided in an employee handbook or through your human resources department.

Difference between mandatory leaves and voluntary leave of absence

Mandatory leave of absence is required by law or company policy, such as military service leave or jury duty. A voluntary leave of absence is a leave that is taken at the employee's discretion, such as personal or medical leave. Employees' and employers' rights and responsibilities may differ in the case of mandatory and voluntary leave of absence. Both parties need to be familiar with the specific provisions of each type of leave.

A note on state laws and leaves of absence

In addition to federal laws like the FMLA, some states have laws regulating leaves of absence and providing additional rights and protections for employees. Both employees and employers need to be familiar with the applicable state laws in their area and how they may impact leave of absence policies and practices.

Is a leave of absence better than quitting?

Deciding whether to request a leave of absence or quit a job can be difficult, and each option has pros and cons. On the one hand, a leave of absence allows employees to take a temporary break while maintaining their employment status and specific benefits, such as health insurance coverage.

This can be especially beneficial for employees who need time off for personal or medical reasons or to care for a family member.

On the other hand, quitting a job may offer more flexibility and the opportunity to explore new career opportunities. A covered employer needs to weigh each option's potential benefits and drawbacks and make the best decision for their circumstances.

In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a leave of absence with the employer, particularly if the employee has a strong track record of job performance and has given sufficient notice.

Regardless of the decision, employees must communicate openly and honestly with their employer and follow relevant policies and procedures. In the case of a leave of absence, it is also important for employees to be prepared to return to work and to fulfil their job duties upon the conclusion of the leave.

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What are some of the benefits of leave of absence as an employees

The following are some of the benefits of a leave of absence as an employee:

  1. Increased Job Satisfaction - A leave of absence can help improve job satisfaction by allowing employees to rest, recharge, and refocus on their career goals.

  2. Improved Mental Health - Taking a break from work can benefit mental health and well-being. With the added time and space, employees can take care of themselves and their families while reducing stress levels.

    Useful Read: Stress Leave from work: Implications and Best Practices
  1. Professional Development - A leave of absence can provide professional development opportunities, such as taking courses or studying for an advanced degree. This can help employees stay competitive and increase their value to the organization.

  2. Improved Productivity - Taking a break from work can help employees return to their jobs with fresh perspectives and renewed energy, leading to improved productivity.

  3. Financial Security - When an employee is entitled to receive paid leave or benefits during the leave of absence period, they can have peace of mind knowing that they are a financially secure while away from the workplace.

  4. Personal Growth - A leave of absence can open up time to explore personal interests and activities, leading to self-development. This can help employees grow both personally and professionally.

  5. Strengthened Relationships - A break from work can provide time to strengthen family relationships and friendships. It also allows for restful vacations, which can help employees return to work feeling recharged and refreshed.

  6. Flexibility - Depending on the employer, employees may be able to tailor their leave of absence to fit their individual needs and preferences, such as taking a part-time sabbatical or having flexible work hours.


In conclusion, a leave of absence is a temporary extended period during which an employee is absent from work but remains an employee of the company. There are various types of leaves of absence, including vacation, sick leave, and family leave.

Employees' and employers' rights and responsibilities may vary depending on the type of leave and applicable laws. Employees need to be familiar with their company's policies and procedures for requesting a leave of absence and to give as much notice as possible before taking a leave.

Employers should also know their obligations under the FMLA and applicable state laws. They should strive to communicate clearly and be flexible in their approach to granting and managing leaves of absence.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to request a leave of absence or quit a job is personal and should be based on the individual circumstances of the employee and the potential benefits and drawbacks of each option.

Absence Management
Topic: Absence
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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