Home / Letters & Templates / How to Write a Leave of Absence Request Letter

How to Write a Leave of Absence Request Letter

Sometimes life circumstances require you to take more than a few days off from work. If you need to be away for several weeks or more, taking a leave of absence is appropriate.

A leave of absence is a period of time off that exceeds your company’s allotted paid time off (PTO). Leaves of absence are typically unpaid, though some companies may offer partial or full payment during employees’ leave. 

What is a leave of absence request letter?

A leave of absence request is a professional letter that asks your employer (or informs them, depending on the circumstances) to take an extended period of time off. It shares the reason you require leave and should cite any policies that support your ability to take it, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

A leave of absence request gives your employer an idea of how long you’ll be gone and what if any, plans are in place for covering your duties while you’re away. 

Why it’s important to send a letter when you want to take a leave of absence

Sending a letter formalizes your request for leave. If your request is covered by your employer or country’s leave policies, this should all but ensure your request is granted. 

If your request does not fall under a covered situation, your letter can help you strongly request why you need the time off. It can also assure your employer that you will be returning, so they feel comfortable approving your request. 

When should you send a request for leave

You have a valid reason

Many reasons can justify taking a leave of absence. Some of the most common ones, and those most likely to be approved with few exceptions, are giving birth (or having a partner who does), adopting a child, dealing with a medical illness, providing care for an immediate family member, and taking military leave. 

Other situations that can be grounds for taking an extended leave include pursuing continued education, grieving the loss of a loved one, taking a sabbatical, or dealing with a challenging personal situation like a divorce. 

You meet your company’s requirements

In America, under FMLA, employees of public agencies and companies that are covered by the mandate (generally, this includes employers with 50 employees or more) are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new child, care for a seriously ill family member or recover from a serious illness. 

Most employers also have their own policies around leaves of absence. Before making your request, it’s a good idea to consult your employee handbook to find out where your request falls and what types of leave may or may not get approved. 

You plan to return to work

One of the defining characteristics of a leave of absence is that the employer holds the position for the employee while they are gone. So, you should only request leave if you sincerely intend to return to your job. 

What to include in a leave of absence request letter

The dates you plan to be gone

Your request is more likely to be approved if you can give your employer a time frame–specifically, a return date. If you don’t know the exact dates, provide a general idea of when you anticipate returning to work.

The basic reason for your request

You don’t need to go into specifics, but it’s a good idea to give at least a broad reason, like illness or a death in the family. This helps your employer consider your request seriously.

Helpful details for your team

Do your part to prevent your leave from negatively impacting the team by sharing information like whether you’ll be available for questions and who will take over essential job duties.

Additional documentation

Attach any information that supports your request, like a medical note from a physician, if needed.

What you should omit

Extensive personal details

A simple explanation is best. If you want to share further information with your boss, you can do so in a face-to-face conversation.

Sample leave of absence request letters

FMLA example

Mr. Smith, 

Please consider this my formal request to take a leave of absence from June 10 to September 29. During this time, I will provide care for a family member (in this case, my husband) as covered by the FMLA. Attached, please find a note from his physician outlining his care plan. 

I plan to return to work on October 2. During my absence, Susan Jones will be covering my essential duties. I can also be reached at 555-1234 with urgent questions. 

Please let me know if you need any additional documentation or have further questions. 


Shelby Thompson

Non-FMLA/personal example


I’m writing to request a leave of absence to attend to a personal matter. The dates I would like to be away are February 9 to March 12. 

I have already spoken with my colleagues, Pamela and Stuart, who have agreed to divide and manage my essential duties if my request is approved. Additionally, I can be available to respond to questions via email as needed while I am away. I am happy to consider other steps to ensure my absence does not create unnecessary hardship for the team. 

Please contact me if I can provide additional information. Many thanks for considering my request. 



Send a copy of your request to your boss and your company’s HR department. Send your letter in a timely manner, giving your employer as much notice as you feasibly can so that the proper arrangements can be made.