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Announcing a Leave of Absence

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There are many reasons an employee might need a leave of absence or employer-approved time off not covered by sick or vacation time. Requests are granted for both personal and medical reasons, including those reasons covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Ask or announce your leave in a positive and professional manner.

Don't Air Your Laundry

Your personal business should remain personal. Heed the caution that too much information may not necessarily work in your favor. While your employer needs to know the nature of your request for a leave of absence, he does not need to know every detail. Avoid telling your employer about your personal problems or other negative information that might lead him to think your absence might be either permanent or in the company's best interest. Stick to the facts. Be specific about the amount of time you are requesting and the business you must attend to, but be vague about the personal details.

Follow Procedure

Ask your human resources department about the procedure your company has in place for requesting a leave of absence and follow this procedure. If possible, plan for your leave when it is most convenient for the company, such as during the slow part of the year. Do what you can to minimize the burden it will place on your employer. Make the initial request by talking to your immediate supervisor about it. Fill out the paperwork your human resources department requires to make the leave official. Discuss the absence with your supervisor before sharing it with your colleagues and co-workers. Your boss shouldn't be the last to know.

Email & Voicemail Etiquette

During your absence, it is important that you let others know you will not be returning emails or phone calls. The best way to do this is to set up an out-of-office reply for your email so that people who communicate with you via email realize you might not see their message and have a legitimate reason for not responding promptly. The same goes for your voice mail. As a courtesy, provide the dates of your absence and an alternate contact person during your absence.

Keep Positive

Since you plan on returning to work, stay upbeat and positive when discussing your absence. Communicate that you are grateful your employer is giving you the leave of absence and that you value your job. Discuss your employer's expectations of you before you leave, such as what should be done before you leave, how you should keep in contact with her during the absence, who you should notify about the absence and how you will get caught up when you return. Offer to help train the person who will be filling in for you when you are gone.


Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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