A leave of absence is an extended period of time off work that an employee can ask for. Unlike paid vacation and paid time off, taking a leave of absence from work is generally unpaid. Depending on the reason behind the request, an employer might not be obligated to approve it.

If you have never taken a leave of absence from work, there will surely come a time during your career where you will have no choice but to request one.

Some people feel the need to take a leave of absence from work after the death of a loved one, or because they have to undergo an important medical procedure. Some will want to leave their job for some time to go serve in the Army, while others need relief from excessive job stress so they can come back refreshed, and ready to tackle new challenges. Finally, others will want to take time off work for different personal or family related reasons.

If the time has come for you to request a leave, you need to know how to take a leave of absence from work.

1. Decide how long your leave of absence will be

Before you even think about asking for a leave of absence from work, you need to decide how much time off you need. When you talk to your employer, you should let them know when you would be back from your leave. If you don’t know the exact date, give an approximation.

When determining the length in your leave of absence, you should be considerate about how your absence might affect the workplace. Keep in mind that your employer has to look at the bigger picture in terms of analyzing absence management in the workforce. If you have no idea how long you intend to be away from work, your employer might not agree to allowing you to take a leave.

2. Know the procedures for taking a leave of absence

To improve your chances of getting your leave of absence, you first need to be aware of the procedures in place at your workplace. If things are always very casual, you could simply ask your boss for some time off.

If you work for a more formal organization, you need to know the policies regarding unpaid leaves. Learn what types of leaves you are entitled to, and how you must present your request.

3. Give advance notice to your employer

Even if your workplace is very casual and you don’t need to follow any complex procedure to ask for a leave, you need to give advance notice to your employer.

If you let them know in advance when, and for how long you would like to take time off from work, they are more likely to give you a positive answer. Plus, it will make it easier for them to figure out how they will compensate for your absence from work.

4. Your direct supervisor should know about your leave of absence

Your direct supervisor should be the very first to hear about your intention to take a leave of absence from work. Don’t talk to your coworkers about it before you officially make your request.

If your supervisor learns about your desire to take a leave from a colleague instead of learning it from you, they might not want to grant your request.

5. Choose the right moment to talk to your supervisor

The worst thing you could do is talk to your supervisor about your leave while they are busy, or during a day where they are stressed out because nothing is going according to plan. If you ask for a leave while your supervisor is overwhelmed, maybe they will say no without even listening to your explanations.

Wait for the right moment, and talk to your supervisor when they are relaxed and in a good mood. This will improve your chances to take a leave of absence from work successfully.

6. Explain why you need a leave of absence from work

Depending on the policies in place at your workplace, it might be best to schedule a meeting with your supervisor. During this meeting, you can talk to them instead of writing them an email to ask for a leave of absence from work.

Be sure to explain why you want to take this leave, and let them know when you expect to be returning. Be as transparent as possible about your request.

7. Consider making an arrangement with your supervisor

If your supervisor lets you know that they would like to grant you your leave, but that they don’t know how they could compensate for your absence, maybe you could consider making an arrangement with them.

Perhaps you could offer them to train someone who will replace you while you are away or, depending on your situation, you could settle for a partial leave, or do some work from your home.

8. Let others know you are taking a leave of absence

After you have made an arrangement with your supervisor, it’s time to let your colleagues and your customers know you will take a leave of absence from work.

You don’t have to let them know why you will be gone if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, but you should at least tell them when you will be returning, and who will be replacing you while you are away.

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