Every business needs a leave of absence policy that clearly lays out how employees can apply for time away from work, and what the terms of this leave will be. There are many reasons an employee may require a leave of absence from work and while employers usually have the right to reject a request, it’s almost always the right call to allow employees to take leave.
The distress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has only made it more important that businesses take an understanding approach to employee welfare, even if they are not eligible for FMLA leave.
Whatever the reason an employee needs some time away from work, it’s important that, when accepting such a request, employers lay out exactly what it means for an employee’s status in the company, their benefits and what is still expected of them.
Explaining Your Leave of Absence Policy
To make sure employees know exactly what your leave of absence policy is, you’ll want to send a Leave of Absence Acceptance letter, detailing the policies. Here’s what you’ll need to include:
- Duration of Leave
The most important detail in this letter is how long an employee can go on leave and the date they must return, if this has been set. Often a precise date may be impossible to predict, but a leave of absence policy may include a maximum duration of leave. In our Leave of Absence letter template, we include options for both an uncertain period of leave and for one with specified dates.
- Paid or Unpaid Leave
When we talk about leaves of absence, we’re typically referring to unpaid leave. Even if it seems obvious, you really need to point this out. You should also ask employees if they want to take advantage of any Paid Time Off they may have accrued.
- Required Contact
For long term leaves of absence, it might be a good idea to ask employees to check in on a regular basis. This can give businesses a better idea of when the employee may return.
- Job Status
If an employee’s job is completely secure, this is a good opportunity to reassure them of that, and to let them know they are free to take however much time they need. However, it can also be appropriate to remind employees that while their job is safe for when they return, this is only feasible for a certain amount of time and that you reserve the right to terminate their employment if business necessity means you cannot wait any longer.
- Paid Time Off Benefits
While an employee is on an unpaid leave of absence, typical job benefits like sick days, vacation days and seniority will not be accrued—this should be specified, to avoid complaints later.
- Company-Sponsored Insurance Benefits
The trickiest part of the process is what happens to company-sponsored insurance benefits like healthcare. If you decide not to cover these costs, you’ll have to inform an employee how much they are required to cover for their various benefits.
- Contact Information
There’s a lot of information for employees to take in and this will often be happening at an already stressful time in their lives, so it’s important you let them know who they can talk to if they don’t fully understand the terms of the leave or if they have any questions.
Get Leave of Absence Letter Template
To help businesses, Paycor is sharing a template employers can use to communicate the leave of absence has been granted. It explains how the unpaid leave will affect an employee’s benefits and employment status. Once downloaded, you can easily edit the language as required, in line with your leave of absence policy.