Formal Leave of Absence Letter Request Example

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Do you need to take a leave of absence from work? If so, it’s important to put your request in writing, both for documentation purposes and to make it easier for your manager to understand what you're requesting.

How to request a leave of absence depends on your position and on company policy. Some companies have formal policies in place for employees to request a leave of absence from their job. Others accept informal requests. Your employer may have a form you need to complete to request a leave of absence, or you may be required to write a letter documenting your request.

Here's information on how to request a leave of absence, examples of written and email requests for a leave of absence, and tips on what to include when you ask for a leave from work.

Key Takeaways

  • Employers are obligated to provide leave for family, medical, or religious reasons, as required by law.
  • Other leave benefits are voluntary and are an agreement between an employee and an employer.
  • Before you apply for leave, check your employer's policies and procedures for requesting leave.
  • It can be helpful to outline your request in writing for your manager to review, as well as to schedule a meeting to clarify policies regarding leave from work.

How To Request a Leave from Work

Many companies offer leave benefits to employees. However, not all leave benefits are mandated by law. Employers are required to provide some leave. Others are voluntary incentives provided by an employer. Voluntary leave benefits are typically an agreement between an employee and an employer or between an employer and an employee's representative, such as a labor union.

The typical process for requesting a formal leave of absence from work is to discuss your situation with your manager or human resources department to learn the process for requesting leave. Your employer will explain what leave is available, the eligibility requirements for leave, and the procedures for requesting leave. You may be required to meet with a manager to review your request and the information you'll need to provide.


It can be helpful to write a letter (or, more typically, an email) to your direct supervisor requesting a meeting to discuss whether, and how, you should apply for a leave of absence.

In this letter, you should include the following:

  • Your reason for needing a leave of absence (such as the birth or adoption of a child, personal or family health issues, loss of a loved one, or relief from excessive job stress)
  • The things you are willing to do to help prepare for your absence (examples: training your replacement, writing a detailed handbook of your daily work processes, or offering to remain available to answer any questions during your absence)
  • The dates of departure and return to work that you are anticipating
  • A request for your supervisor’s assistance in helping you to negotiate the leave of absence process with senior management and/or your human resources department

Once you have attended this meeting with your supervisor, follow up on the conversation with a written request for a leave of absence. This will be added to your personnel file, in order to initiate the formal leave-of-absence process and to provide documentation, if required, prior to the approval of your leave.

How to request a leave of absence

The Balance

Dos and Don’ts for Requesting a Leave of Absence

It’s important to ask for your leave in the best possible way. The following guidelines will help you write a request that’s effective, professional, and considerate.

Give as much notice as possible. It takes time to arrange cover for your work role and to deal with your employer's requirements in accordance with leave. The more notice you can provide, the easier it will be for the company to accommodate your request.

Speak to your direct supervisor first, and outline your request in writing or complete leave request paperwork. 

Know your rights. The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles many employees to unpaid leave to deal with medical conditions and family needs, such as the birth or adoption of a child or emergencies related to a family member’s active military service. Eligible employees who work for companies comprising 50 or more employees are entitled to 12 working weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Find out whether you’re covered before requesting leave.


Your state may also have family and medical leave laws that provide for employee absences from work. Check with your state labor department for information on programs in your location.

What To Include in Your Formal Letter

When requesting a formal leave of absence, your letter should include the following:

  • Request for a leave of absence
  • The dates you expect to be away from work
  • The date you plan to return to work
  • An offer to provide assistance, if feasible
  • Thanks for considering your request

Leave of Absence Request Template

This leave of absence example template is for a formal request for a leave of absence from work, following a discussion with the employee’s supervisor.

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number


Supervisor’s Name
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name],

This letter is a formal request for a leave of absence, to follow up on our meeting yesterday. As we discussed, I would like to request a leave of absence from [Date] through [Date].

I will return to work on [Date].

Please let me know whether you require any further information or have any questions.

Thank you very much for your consideration in affording me this opportunity for personal leave.


Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name

Leave of Absence Request Email Example

Here's an example of an email message requesting a leave of absence.

Subject: Leave of Absence - John Dooley

Dear Jennifer,

As we discussed yesterday, I would like to request a formal leave of absence from my job for family reasons. I plan to be away from November 2, 2022 to December 30, 2022, returning to work on January 3, 2023.

If approved, I would be glad to help with a plan to cover my workload in my absence. I would also be available to answer questions and provide assistance while I am on leave.

Please let me know whether you require any additional information. Thank you very much for your consideration of my request.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are employers required to give employees paid leave from work?

Federal law does not require employers to pay employees for time not worked, such as personal leave, vacations, sick leave, or holidays. Some states mandate paid family, sick, parental, and school leave. Check with your state department of labor for details.

What's the best way to request a leave from work?

Your company may have a policy in place for requesting leave from work that specifies circumstances where leave may be granted, and how much time employees are entitled to take as leave. Check your employee handbook or talk to your manager for details. If a policy is in place, be sure to adhere to those guidelines for requesting a leave of absence.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Conference of State Legislatures. "State Family and Medical Leave Laws."

  2. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "Leave Policy Tips."

  3. Department of Labor. "Leave Benefits."

  4. Department of Labor. "Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)."

  5. National Conference of State Legislatures. "Paid Family Leave Resources."

  6. U.S. Department of Labor. "Personal Leave."

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