A leave of absence is a specific, predetermined period that employees spend away from work. A leave of absence, also simply referred to as “leave,” is requested by an employee for any reason, circumstance, or life event that warrants time off work. When an employee takes a leave of absence, they can be assured that their job is secure and that they can return to work on the agreed date. There can be several categories that a leave of absence can be classified as. Leaves can be mandatory, voluntary, paid, unpaid, or involuntary.
What are examples of leaves of absence that are mandatory?
There can be several situations when an employer is legally required to allow a leave of absence to employees. Here are some examples:
Jury duty: when an employee is summoned for jury duty, the employer is not legally required to pay for the leave of absence. However, the employer may do so if they are willing.
Voting: providing time off for employees to vote is required by some jurisdictions. State laws also vary in terms of this leave type being paid or unpaid.
Military duty: this leave type is protected by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or USERRA. The law requires employers to allow unpaid leave for military service.
Leave of absence for reasonable accommodations for eligible employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Leave of absence for eligible employees facing medical conditions under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
State-mandated leave scenarios
What are examples of leaves of absence that are voluntary?
Employers must set a specific company leave policy for employees to adhere to. The policy must be clear in determining the leave types, set whether or not the leave will be paid or unpaid, and the process that employees need to follow in requesting a leave of absence. Here are some examples of voluntary leave of absence:
Paid Time Off (PTO)
Additional maternity leave after mandatory leave under FMLA
Compensatory time off
What about paid and unpaid leave of absence?
The employer decides which leave types are paid and unpaid and are written in the company leaves policy. In general, when an employee takes a paid leave, they are compensated for the time that they are off work. For unpaid leave, the employee does not receive any compensation for the time they spend off work.
What about involuntary leave of absence?
There can be certain scenarios that can lead to an involuntary leave of absence. For example, in case of an investigation into an employee’s alleged actions or wrongdoing, it may be challenging to have the involved employee come to work. In this case, the employer can ask the employee to take an involuntary leave of absence.
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