Everything You Need To Know About Leave Of Absence Types

Leave of Absence Policies may seem confusing, and the added complication that dependent on the state, they are governed in different ways does not help to simplify things either. There are an array of factors that influence leave of absence laws, and additionally, there exist many different leave of absence types. Although it may seem complicated, fear not, Factorial is here to help!

Below you will find a comprehensive guide regarding everything you need to know about leave of absences. We’ll cover the different leave of absence policies, leave management software, and all the different leave of absence types.

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about leave of absences in the US is right here.

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Leave of Absence Policies

A leave of absence policy is a set of guidelines and regulations that are produced to help manage employee absences. It highlights the different types of leave that employees are permitted and what the limits and requirements for that leave are.

Leave of Absence Definition

A leave of absence is defined as permission granted by an employer, for an employee to not have to work for a set amount of time. The policies associated with leaves of absence can be governed by federal or state laws, or they can be voluntary, in which they are governed by a company’s internal policies. Leave of absence laws can be requested for a number of different reasons:

  • Personal or family illness or mental health issues
  • Vacation
  • Statutory or contractual holiday entitlements
  • Pregnancy
  • Bereavement leave
  • Medical appointments
  • Jury duty
  • Military service
  • Voting
  • Personal reasons

Leave of Absence Laws

There are laws that need to be taken into consideration when writing a leave of absence policy. By complying with these, it will help you avoid any potential employee disputes or misunderstandings.

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)– employers with more than 50 employees must provide their employees with long-term unpaid sick leave. They are entitled to up to 12 weeks off in a 12 month period.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)– Forbids employers to discriminate against employees with mental or physical disabilities.
  • Workers’ compensation laws– Rules which enforce that any employee that is harmed at work must be repaid lost wages, disability payments and medical expenses.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)– provides standards for minimum wage, overtime pay and standards for youth employment.

✅Everything you need to know about Leave of Absence Policies 

PTO Requests

PTO is the acronym for paid time off. Employees may require paid time off for many different reasons: including sick leave, personal days off, and holidays. Efficient PTO is vital to boost employee satisfaction and productivity levels.

PTO for Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by law requires employees to be paid time and a half for all the extra hours they work – extra hours are defined as working over 40 hours. Non- exempt employees are only paid when they work, so the holiday they take is unpaid.

Exempt Employees

Exempt employees will not get overtime pay for any extra hours that they work over the 40 hour threshold. Employees are exempt from the FLSA if:

  • Their contract is on a salary basis. Employees on a salary receive money for the days they work, regardless of the extra hours they work.
  • They earn a minimum of $684 per week or $35,568 annually.
  • They perform executive, administrative, and professional roles.

The Department of Labor (DOL) states that employers can oblige exempt employees to use vacation days for partial-day absences. Therefore, if an employee misses a day of work, legally employees are allowed to take it off their vacation time. For those on a set salary, salary deductions may occur if an employee has exhausted their PTO.

The different states of America may vary regarding the laws they have in place to protect employees, so it is recommended to check with your state or local government to better understand the paid time off USA policies.

✅Click here to learn more about PTO Requests

Leave of Absence Types

Leave of Absence Types

Tracking employee absences can prove difficult, however, is an essential part of HR management. Employees may take time off for an array of different reasons, including sickness, bereavement, child care, or a well deserved holiday. This section will analyse the different types of employee absences that are encountered in workplace environments.

Paid Time Off

Paid time off is a benefit program that enables employees to take time off work for a certain number of days and still get paid. In Europe, workers are guaranteed between 20-30 paid days off work per year. However, in the US no such rule applies. There are no laws that exist that enforce paid holidays or paid sick leave. Businesses in the US instead create their own PTO policies. These PTO policies may cover: medical leave, bereavement leave, annual leave, parental leave, and vacation requests.

Medical Leave

If an employee is unwell, has to look after a family member who is unwell, or has recently given birth, they will require an intermittent leave of absence. This leave is also valid for doctor appointments or hospital stays. Intermittent leave of absence is a program which is governed by The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), regulated by the United States Department of Labor (DOL). It enables employees that are covered by the Act to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year. However, to receive this an employee must have worked for an employer for a minimum of 12 months. Additionally, they must have previously worked a minimum of 1,250 hours proceeding their entitled leave.

Bereavement Leave

Bereavement Leave is defined as time off due to an immediate family member dying. As previously stated, there are no federal laws outlining the amount of time allowed off. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) insists that some employers provide their employees with a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year.

Bereavement Leave California

Bereavement leave in California is changing. In 2007, they tried to alter the mandate regarding bereavement leave, however, it did not pass. Assembly Bill 2999 has recently proposed another bill, 13 years later which will ensure job-protected leave to all Californians. This has been proposed once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual Leave

Annual Leave is defined as paid time off work granted to employees for them to use in any way they want. This time off is normally paid at the same rate as if they would be working normally. In the US, there is no federal or state statutory minimum paid holiday, or even paid public holiday. Paid leave is completely dependent on the employer. Some companies do not offer paid holidays, whilst others do. On average, in the US, employees are entitled to 10 days off after having worked for a company for 1 year, then after having worked for 5 years or more they are entitled to 14 days off, after 10 years are entitled to 17 days of holiday, and after 20 years receive 20 days off. This is a stark contrast to the annual leave which Europeans receive.

Parental Leave

Parental leave is important for the mental and physical wellbeing of new parents and their babies. It is an essential time for new mothers to get accustomed to becoming a parent and recover from the physical demand of childbirth. Additionally, it is an opportunity for the father to bond with the baby, which is incredibly important for both the baby and father.

In the US there is no singular set federally mandated paid leave. Americans may be entitled to paid leave through different state or federal laws.

Federal Parental Leave Policy

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to certain employees. This can be used for employees who are unwell, those who have to care for loved ones, or those that have just become new parents. However, as previously mentioned, to qualify, employees must have worked in their company for at least a year.

State Parental Leave Laws

There are leave laws that exist in 8 states: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington and the District of Columbia. These laws provide parental leave pay for their employees. Any other state by default is governed by FMLA laws.

Vacation Requests

Offering holidays is not required by federal law in the US. However many companies offer it as part of their employee package to attract high-caliber employees and contribute to the overall success and productivity of the company. Managing vacation requests can prove difficult. However, it is made simpler when you have a clear and well-detailed time-off form.

✔️Download Factorial’s time-off request form.

Leave of Absence Types

Paid Time Off Policy

A business’ time off policy is very important, as it affects its ability to attract and retain skilled workers. Additionally, it improves the general employee experience along with employee happiness, which therefore increases productivity.

Good PTO Policies

Holidays which cater to a Diverse Workforce

Some companies may only have specific holidays in place such as Christmas Day and Labor Day and may not cater to the needs of people from other countries or those that belong to different religions. Due to this, some companies have begun offering floating holidays. This means that employees can swap their time off from the holidays they don’t celebrate for the holidays that they do. This concept of a floating holiday caters to all needs in the workforce and is a lot more inclusive.

The more generous the Holiday Plans the better

The better a companies holiday policies are, the more valued employees will feel. This will therefore contribute to overall employee satisfaction and a lower turnover rate, which saves the company money in the long run due to not having to spend money during the hiring and onboarding process.

Employee Furlough

Furlough is defined as temporary paid time off work. It is a scheme put in place to offer job protection to workers during a crisis such as a recession or global pandemic. Normally furlough occurs without pay. Although workers do still keep their employment benefits such as health insurance. Ultimately, companies tend to put employees into furlough to save on the costs of employing. In its essence, it is a scheme put in place to avoid mass unemployment. Normally with furlough, employers provide their employees with a date in which they can come back to work.

In some cases, employees on furlough are paid. However, legally they don’t have to get paid. Although, historically speaking they have received payments for their lost time. During the coronavirus, for example, furloughed employees received payments during their time off work.

Download our guide detailing everything about Paid Time Off.

Unpaid Time-Off

Unpaid time off is defined as a period of time taken off from work which is not covered by existing employee benefits such as paid vacation, paid time off, or sick leave.

Companies have an obligation to pay for the time taken off by an employee due to certain circumstances. These include: time off due to sickness, medical leave, accrued time off and holidays. These are regulated by federal laws and constitute a principal aspect of an employment contract. Many companies have created Paid Time Off (PTO) policies, enabling their employees to apply for paid time off within the conditions set out by the company. If your company does not have a PTO policy in place, then an employee’s absences are classed as Unpaid Time Off (UTO). UTO can be provided to employees in addition to or instead of PTO.

Click here to learn more about Unpaid Time Off

Overtime Exempt Employees

The Federal Law in the United States sets overtime as being paid for time and a half after having worked more than 40 hours a week. Employees receive overtime pay due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Click here to access a comprehensive review of all leave of absence types

However, some employees may be exempt from receiving overtime. Employees that are salaried, instead of being paid by the hour are generally exempt from receiving overtime payments. Additionally, employees may be exempt from receiving overtime if they receive a mimimum of $685 a week or $35,568 annually. Workers that operate in specific sectors may also be exempt. These inlcude those that work in administrative, professional and executive roles. It also does not include computer employees and those in that work outside sales. Workers such as farmers and theatre workers are also exempt. It is recommended to check with federal and local regulations to check which employees are eligible to receive overtime pay.

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