Advice for Those Drafting and Using Leave of Absence Letters
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As a hardworking employee, you pride yourself on your commitment to your job. At times, however, certain circumstances may force you to take a step back. Depending on your employer's leave of absence policy, you may be able to take time off while still feeling confident that your job will be waiting when you return.
Drafting a leave of absence letter is a critical step in requesting time off. This formal document explains why you require a leave of absence while also outlining how long your leave will last — and when you can be expected to resume work.
To provide insight into the often confusing process of taking a leave of absence, we've developed a guide that dives into the requirements for notifying employers. We'll explain:
- Essential Components of a Leave of Absence Letter
- How a Leave of Absence Letter Template Can Help
- Best Practices for Using Leave of Absence Letters
Essential Components of a Leave of Absence Letter
Each leave of absence request will look a bit different based on the specific situation that calls for taking time off. That being said, every letter should include these essentials:
- The name of the supervisor. The opening of the leave of absence letter should highlight the name of the person responsible for approving the leave. This will typically be included in both an opening section (which also references the organization's name and address) and the salutation: "Dear Mr./Ms. ____."
- A summary of the plan for taking leave. This section should provide a concise overview of why you're requesting time off and what this absence from work might look like. While this explanation should remove all questions regarding the need for a leave of absence, it should not surpass a few short sentences.
- The proposed dates of the leave of absence. When is the leave of absence expected to begin and end? If possible, include specific dates.
- A thank you and a signature. The letter should end with some show of gratitude for considering your request. Use the closing salutation "sincerely," followed by your signature.
How a Leave of Absence Letter Template Can Help
The most effective leave of absence letters are short and succinct. Without guidance, however, it can be easy to share too many details or drift into excessively casual language.
A leave of absence letter template will keep you on track, ensuring that you let your employer in on only the most essential details. A template is also useful from a formatting perspective; if followed closely, it prevents the letter from looking cluttered.
Best Practices for Using Leave of Absence Letters
How you proceed could play a huge role in whether the terms of a requested leave of absence are honored — and how easily you're able to navigate the return process later on. These best practices should help:
- Understand your legal rights. Employers are not obligated to provide paid leave, although many choose to do so in hopes of attracting the best talent. Many companies are, however, required to offer unpaid leave under certain conditions, as identified in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Take a close look at these requirements prior to requesting a leave of absence.
- Have a conversation with your employer first. The timing for submitting a leave of absence letter matters. Many employees find they are most successful if they alert their employer to their intentions to take time off before submitting a formal letter. The letter serves as an official follow-up to confirm anything previously discussed in person.
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