How to Write a Personal Leave of Absence Policy

In addition to vacation leave or paid time off, some employers offer personal leaves of absence. There’s no legal requirement to provide such leave, but many employers offer it, albeit with limitations.

A policy granting personal leaves of absence might start by highlighting the exceptional nature of such leave with something like this:

The Company believes that its vacation and holiday policies are sufficiently generous so that additional time off should not be necessary. There may, however, be occasional exceptions for important personal reasons.

It should then state who specifically is qualified to take a personal leave of absence, e.g.:

Any full- or part-time employee who has been with the Company for more than one year is eligible for a personal leave of absence up to a maximum of 6 months.

Make it clear whether personal leaves of absence are with or without pay, and note whether vacation and sick time accrue during a personal leave.

Next, set out the procedures involved with taking a personal leave of absence, e.g.,:

(1) The employee should submit a letter to his or her supervisor, with a copy to personnel, explaining why the time is needed and the dates.

(2) Personnel, in conjunction with the employee’s supervisor, makes the final decision based on length of service; reason for the leave; performance record; department work load; the Company’s business needs; attendance record; work schedule, work load, and responsibility level; the extent to which the employee has previously taken leaves; and the impact of the requested leave on other employees.

The policy should require that employees give a minimum amount of notice, e.g., at least 30 days, if practicable. And note that failure to provide such notice may be a ground for denying the leave request.

The policy may also cover the employee’s situation on return from a leave of absence. For example:

Although the Company will make every effort to return the employee to his or her prior position when he or she returns from a personal leave of absence, the Company cannot guarantee that the same position will be available. In that event, the Company will make every effort to return the employee to a comparable position in terms of pay, benefits, shift time, location, and other working conditions.

The policy may also restrict employees on a personal leave of absence from accepting employment with any other employer without the employer’s written permission, and treat acceptance of such employment as resignation.

Whether or not to provide personal leave of absence to employees will depend on the type of business. For help crafting legally compliant and appropriate leave policies, employers and their counsel should turn to CEB’s Advising California Employers and Employees, chap 6 and Employee Leave Laws: Compliance and Litigation, chap 3. These titles are part of CEB’s OnLAW Employment Law Library.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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