“Leave of absence” is another catchall term used to refer generally and broadly to employees’ requests to take leave from work—often for an extended period—to manage any of a variety of personal and family needs: personal or family illness, pregnancy, military service, family military leave, etc.
Employees are granted rights to take leave for these reasons under several federal (and, of course, state) laws, which means employers have extensive compliance responsibilities related to these laws. Key among these laws is the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides eligible employees with between 12 and 26 weeks of leave for needs related to their own serious health conditions, care of covered family members with serious health conditions, child bonding, and forms of family military leave.
The requirements of the FMLA are extensive and complex, and administration of individual leave requests under the law can be one of the more difficult tasks in human resources management. The information provided in this analysis offers guidance on the general application and requirements of the law, key definitions and interpretations, interplay with other applicable and related laws, and further resources and best practices.