Good reasons to take a leave of absence from work (A brief guide)

In this guide, we will discuss “good reasons to take a leave of absence from work”, some tips on how to write a leave of absence letter, some samples you could adapt to your personal situation,  and few additional things to consider.

Good reasons to take a leave of absence from work

There are plenty of good reasons to take a leave of absence from work, among them we can find:

  • Jury duty
  • Annual leave
  • Personal leave
  • Military leave
  • Sabbatical
  • Short-term disability
  • Long-term disability
  • Sick leave
  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Family or personal leave
  • Extended vacation

Excuses for taking a Leave of Absence from Work

Here are some potential excuses for leave of absence from work:

  • Wanting to travel 
  • Relief from excessive job stress
  • Pursuing a hobby.
  • Personal or family health problems
  • Birth of or adopting a child
  • The loss of a loved one

But what is a leave of absence? Well, it is basically a period of time you request to be off work while you are still holding the status of an employee.

It differs from other types of leave of absence like holidays, vacations, sabbaticals, etc.

This is mainly due to the fact that the other forms of leave are considered to be mainly employee’s benefits or privileges included in your contractual agreement.

In addition, you could have paid and unpaid leave of absence.

In addition, according to ‘Indeed’, “You should ask your employer for a leave of absence if you know you will be unable to work for more than a couple of weeks but wish to return to your job.

Some common reasons employees take a leave of absence are to recover from a serious illness, undergo a medical procedure, assist a family member, take an extended trip or welcome a new child into the family.”

Let’s imagine the following scenario, you may be in need of a personal leave of absence because you have to travel out of the country to see a relative that is very sick and you are afraid that he/she may die.

You then consider asking your employer for some time off, but it doesn’t mean asking for it will be easy.

Every company has its own policies and regulations and in some cases they will grant or deny your request of leave on a case-by-case basis, especially depending on your relationship with your employer and the reason behind your request.

How can I communicate with my employer about my need to have a leave of absence? 

First off, try to inform yourself about the company policies.

Checking with your HR department or talking to your line manager can be helpful when investigating a bit more about your employer’s policies in the case of leave, their length, types and whether they are paid or unpaid.

After doing this you may feel ready to talk to your supervisor.

Try to schedule a meeting or ask your supervisor for a meeting.

Your absence from your work duties may impact significantly your employer so it is important to be the first to communicate your intention to your supervisor.

After your conversation, make sure to send a follow-up email with details discussed. 

Then it is time to submit your request in writing (letter or email) and make it official.

According to Indeed “Your request should include the type of leave you need and how much time you’ll need with a specific date for your return. Ask if there are any steps you need to take to make your leave official. Whether you disclose the specific reason for your leave of absence is optional, but if you have a close relationship with your supervisor or a compelling reason, it may a good idea to explain why you need extended time off from work.”

Now it is time to consider making your request well and ahead of time, since your employer may need a few weeks to decide whether they approve or reject your request.

In addition, make sure to offer to help (if you are able to) in assisting your manager or your boss making a plan to manage your current workload while you are away or offering to help find and train a  replacement. 

Asking for leave of absence (tips)

  • Provide the dates of the start and date of return. Providing both will help your request to be specific and clear.
  • Before asking for your leave of absence, make sure you have considered all the alternatives such as working part-time or from home (if possible).
  • Let your colleagues know that you will be absent from the office for some time.

Sample of a formal email request

Here is an example of a formal email request you can adapt to your own personal circumstances:

“August 1, 2019

Subject: Medical Leave of Absence

Dear Mr. Jimenez,

As you know, I have been ill lately, and my doctor has suggested that I take time off from work to be able to recover completely. I am contacting you to request a medical leave of absence for two weeks, from Aug. 7 to Aug. 21.

Please let me know if there are steps I need to take to make this official with the HR department.

I will be happy to assist you in arranging for someone to manage my workload while I am away. Thank you for your understanding.


Natalia Bisset”

Sample of a personal leave of absence

“Feb. 1, 20XX

Deborah Jones

ABC Company, Inc.

1234 E. Main St.

San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Ms. Jones,

I am submitting this request for a leave of absence to tend to important personal matters beginning next month. If possible, I would like to take my leave beginning March 15 and return to the office on April 3, 20XX.

I can make myself available intermittently to answer questions via phone or email, and am happy to do whatever necessary to ensure a smooth transition before my leave begins.

Thank you for your consideration.


Johanna Jansen”

Will I get paid during my absence?

Taking a leave of absence can be either paid and unpaid.

However, most leaves of absence are unpaid, but on some occasions and due to company policies there is a chance you might get a partial or full payment while you are on your leave of absence.

Moreover, some employer’s chose to give paid or unpaid leave depending on how long have you been with the company for, how good you are at your job, if you have a good professional relationship with your boss if you are considered a valuable asset for the company or the reasons why you are asking the leave for.  

It is important you familiarize yourself with the leave of absence policies, how it works, if you have any benefits and the eligibility criteria.

If they decide to grant the leave but without payment consider if it is going to be a smart financial move or if you can actually afford to go on an unpaid leave of absence.

How to take a leave of absence from work due to stress?

To take a leave of absence from work, you might need to talk to your employer and your doctor, and explain what you are going through, and how it might help you to take some time off work to deal with your stress.

To take a leave of absence from work due to stress, you may do the following:

  • Mention that your doctor recommends a leave
  • Submit a letter to the employer and HR
  • Work on getting better before returning to work
  • Talk to your GP or psychiatrist
  • Get a sick note/fit note
  • Talk to your employer about the stress you are experiencing

To take a leave of absence from work due to stress you may also need to write a letter to your employer in addition to talking to your doctor, and a sample of such a letter is below:

“Aug. 8, 20XX

Roberto Diaz

ABC Company, Inc.

1234 E. Main St.

San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Mr. Diaz,

I am writing to request a one-month medical leave of absence beginning Monday, Sept. 10, and ending Wednesday, Oct. 10. I have been suffering from stress for the longest time and my doctor suggests that I need to take time off to deal with my situation, and for this he has suggested a minimum three-week recovery period (see doctor’s signed recommendation attached.)

I am happy to assist in handling any necessary preparations before beginning my leave, including training colleagues on upcoming projects. Thank you so much for your understanding.


Dave Smith”

In this letter to take a leave of absence from work due to stress the person also mentions a doctor’s recommendation, which is something you might require to get a leave of absence.

How long can you take a leave of absence from work?

You can take a leave of absence of about 12 weeks from work, which is the time period of leave mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

A Leave of absence is defined as “A leave of absence is when an employee receives permission from their employer to take time off work for an extended period of time. Some types of leave, such as jury duty or maternity leave, include legal protections. Other types of leave are granted at the discretion of the employer.”

When you are trying to figure out how long you can take a leave of absence from work for, you need to check out your contract in addition to the laws in your country, because that can differ in some cases as well.

Furthermore, how long a leave of absence from work can be for may sometimes also depend on the reason you are taking a leave of absence may need to be stated clearly for the purpose of making sure that the person is not leaving work unnecessarily.

How long a leave of absence from work lasts for may also be flexible in some cases, and the time duration of the leave may also be stretched beyond the stipulated time depending on what the situation is, and in some cases a leave of absence that is too long may need some proof, like a medical certificate, before it can be sanctioned.

Why is this blog about good reasons to take a leave of absence from work important?

There are many good reasons to take a leave of absence from work, but not all of them are considered valid reasons for your employer.

Make sure you talk to your HR department of your supervisor and document any related policies that you can benefit from, especially discussing all the alternative options that may be available to you.

After you have decided to submit a formal letter or email with plenty of time, considering the tips we have mentioned, your employer will consider accepting or rejecting your request.

Make sure you have assessed all your options in case you need a plan B or an alternative option so you can take a leave of absence. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about good reasons to take a leave of absence from work

What is a good reason for a leave of absence?

There are always good and valid reasons why you would like to request a leave of absence but not all of them will be as good and valid to your employer.

However, we could consider some good reasons such as having to take time off for personal or family health problems, the birth or adoption of a child, relief from excessive job-related stress, death of a loved one, a change in your career path or a desire to travel.

How long can you take a leave of absence from work?

The time you can take a leave of absence from work will actually depend on if you are off for less than 7 days then you can self-certify but if you have been feeling unwell for more than that, you have been to your GP, and they have issued a sick note then it will depend on how long your doctor considers you should be off work.

How can I take a leave of absence from work due to stress?

You can take the following steps to take a leave of absence from work due to stress:

– Get an appointment with your GP.

– Be honest with your doctor and tell them about how you are feeling (any signs and symptoms).

– Tell your employer you will be off work for as long as you fit note states.

– Focus on getting better and following your doctor’s advice.

– Return to work.

– Ask your manager for any adjustments that need to be made for you to feel better at your workplace.

How do you write a leave of absence letter for personal reasons?

If you plan to write a leave of absence letter for personal reasons make sure to include a brief explanation of why you need to take the leave of absence and perhaps indicate where you will be while you are away.

If possible, offer your assistance and provide the best contact information where they can reach you while you are off.

Also, don’t forget to thank your employer for considering your request.

Can I get fired for taking a leave of absence?

In most cases, employers can’t fire their employees just for taking a leave of absence.

There are a series of steps and procedures they need to follow before considering a dismissal.

For instance, if you are unable or not capable of performing the duties related to your job or you have to be absent indefinitely due to long-term condition then your employer may consider your dismissal.

References “When to Ask for a Leave of Absence”

Udice, K. (n.d.) “Requesting A Leave Of Absence? Here’s What You Should – And Shouldn’t – Do”. Retrieved from