Leave of Absence is not the same as Paid Time Off (PTO) or Vacation Leave. Employees can take some time off their regular work schedule without risking their employment security with a Leave of Absence.
The time taken off can be unpaid, paid, mandatory or voluntary, depending on the employee’s circumstances. However, employers are not legally obliged to compensate employees for the leave of absence, but employees can still maintain their health insurance and job security during this absence.
What is the Importance of Offering Leaves of Absence?
Recently, many organizations have opened up to the idea of leave of absence being a positive initiative in the workplace. An adequately managed leave of absence can help employees balance some rough life events without having to worry about their job safety. Moreover, if a leave of absence can fulfill both legal and employee requirements, it can result in an increase in workplace morale, employee retention, and loyalty.
What are the Types of Leaves of Absence?
Mandatory and Voluntary Leaves are the two types of official leaves of absence. One is governed by federal or state institutions, while the employer manages the other.
1. Mandatory Leave of Absence
Mandatory leave of absence is federally, locally or state governed through various laws. Employers and employees must check their region’s laws to get accurate information.
All employers must provide employees job security when applying for any of the above reasons. However, the eligibility for the mandatory leaves of absence is based on the number of workers a company has.
2. Voluntary Leave of Absence
Unlike mandatory leaves, voluntary leaves of absence are managed by the company or employer. That is why it usually falls in the employee perks category.
Extension of Maternity Leaves
Paid Time Off (PTO)
Compensatory Time Off (CTO)
Job protections are offered based on employee performance and other qualifications. All companies must include company policies regarding leaves of absence in their handbook and ensure it states the eligibility. Moreover, employers are not legally bound to offer job protection while on a voluntary leave of absence.
However, employers can offer employees an extension to their mandated leaves under exceptional circumstances, such as medical or educational.
What are Some Common Voluntary Leaves of Absence Requests?
Usually, leaves of absence requests are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). However, there are many more common requests for leaves.
Moving to a new house
Funeral or Bereavement
Higher Educational Purpose
Divorce or Marriage
Typically, the above reasons for leave are unpaid. So if an employee still has remaining PTO, employers usually ask them to take it instead of an unpaid leave of absence.
Which are the Law Protected Personal Leaves of Absence?
Some personal leaves provide job protection directly from federal or state laws. In these scenarios, employers cannot dismiss or terminate any employee for taking these leaves of absence.
If an employee has jury duties in federal or state courts, they should get unpaid leaves from their employers. In this case, companies have to be compliant with the Jury Duty Laws of the state and plan accordingly for the employee’s leave. However, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers do not need to pay their employees for leave.
Usually, state laws have rules and regulations on time off from work for voting purposes. It can either be paid or unpaid depending on the state or the employer, in case the state has no rules.
Even though the job position in terms of the above reasons is secured, employees must notify their employers about the time off as early as possible. If an employee is dismissed during a leave of absence for other personal reasons, an employer does not need to reemploy them.
What are Unpaid and Paid Leaves of Absence?
Leave of absence can also be classified into paid and unpaid leaves. Usually, mandatory leaves are compensated by an employer, but it can also apply to voluntary leaves if an employer wants to provide compensation.
On the other hand, voluntary leaves of absence are usually unpaid, where employers are not obliged to provide any salary for the days of the employee’s leave.
What is Involuntary Leave of Absence?
Involuntary Leaves of Absence is when employers mandate employees to take leave from work for some unexpected circumstances. For example, if there has been an allegation against an employee for unlawful activities, an investigation needs to be carried out. In this case, the employer will ask the employee to go on an involuntary leave of absence until further notice so that the investigation can run smoothly and reach a definite conclusion.
Can Employees Get an Extension on Leaves of Absence?
When applying for a leave of absence, employees must mention their days of leave to their employers. This lets employers arrange for people to cover the work missed on those days.
However, it is not always easy to predict the end date of a medical situation or emergency. So, employees do have the option to use their remaining earned sick leaves or PTOs or apply for an extension on their leave of absence to the employer.
In this case, employers can deny or approve the request, depending on the circumstances. But employers also must consult a legal consultant to avoid any ADA violation or state laws that declare that one must provide accommodations to the physically or mentally disabled employees during a leave of absence. Many states assess medical leave of absence as a kind of accommodation that needs to be provided by the company or organization.