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Leave of Absence (LOA)

Last updated: November 9, 2021

What Does Leave of Absence (LOA) Mean?

A leave of absence (LOA) is time off from work that has been authorized by the employer. During this period the employee is not undertaking their job tasks but retains their status as an employee. They may or may not continue to receive paychecks and employee benefits depending on the employer's policies and the federal and state laws.

Safeopedia Explains Leave of Absence (LOA)

A leave of absence is considered an exceptional circumstance and requires special approval. This makes it different from normal periods away from work, such as paid holidays, vacations, sabbaticals, and work-from-home programs.

Mandatory Leaves of Absence

Mandatory leaves of absence are governed by federal and state laws and include:

  • Medical absences that fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Accommodations related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Military leave
  • Jury duty

Voluntary Leaves of Absence

Voluntary leaves of absence, on the other hand, are a courtesy granted through company policy or secured through collective bargaining with a labor union. This includes cases where an employer grants an extended leave after the employee has exhausted their mandatory LOA.

Eligible Reasons for a Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA is a federal labor law that guarantees up to 12 weeks with job protection to deal with a personal health condition or care for an ailing family member. It also provides up to 26 weeks to care for a service member who is a parent, spouse, child, or next of kin with a serious injury or illness.

Leaves of absence after giving birth or adopting a child are also regulated by the FMLA.

However, it does not guarantee job protection for every worker. To be eligible, the worker must be employed by a company with 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of the office. They also must have held their jobs for at least 12 months and put in at least 1250 hours of service.


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