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How to Write a Personal Leave Request Email

Sometimes, personal or family matters require you to step away from your job for an extended period of time. If you have a job you like or you don’t want to face the cumbersome process of job searching after you attend to your personal responsibilities, it can make more sense to take a leave of absence rather than resign. To do this, you’ll need to formally send a personal leave request email to your employer. Here’s everything you need to include in your request, plus how to phrase it for the greatest chance your employer will approve.

What is a personal leave request email?

A personal leave request email is your official notice to your employer that you’re asking to take an extended amount of time off from your position. This is a prolonged absence from work that goes beyond your allotted time off. 

Personal leave can be paid or unpaid. In some cases, like with situations covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers are legally required to accommodate employees’ leave requests. Even in these cases, though, it’s important to document your notification of your upcoming absence in writing with a formal email.

Why it’s important to send an email requesting personal leave

Most good employers will make a reasonable effort to work with employees who need a prolonged amount of time off, but it’s still a big ask and by no means is their approval guaranteed. Writing a carefully crafted leave request letter can help you explain why you need the break and make a strong case for why your employer should agree to it. 

A personal leave request also gives your employer all of the important details in writing, like the amount of time you’re hoping to take off and how you foresee the transition taking place. This ensures they have all of the necessary information to chart the best course of action and, if they approve your request, make sure your leave goes smoothly for everyone.

When should you send a request for personal leave email

When you have a good reason

There are plenty of valid reasons for taking a leave of absence. Some of the ones that employers generally find acceptable are: 

  • Having a baby 
  • Adopting a child
  • Dealing with an illness or other medical issue
  • Serving as a caregiver
  • Bereavement after the loss of a close family member
  • Fulfilling a military obligation
  • Continuing your education

Then there are some circumstances where it will depend on your employer. Some companies will be open to employees taking leave to: 

  • Take a sabbatical
  • Travel for an extended period of time
  • Take a break from work for mental health
  • Get through a divorce or other major family transition

These lists aren’t exhaustive. There are plenty of other reasons, like emergencies and life circumstances, that may make a leave of absence the best option for both you and your employer. Until you formally ask for the time off with a personal leave request, you won’t know for sure what the answer is.

After you’ve had a live conversation with your boss

While it is necessary to send your request for leave in writing, it’s best to do so after you’ve broached the subject with your boss face to face. This gives you the chance to have an open and honest conversation about what’s going on, get their feedback, and make sure they’re not blindsided by your letter. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to clarify your company’s leave policy if you’re not sure what it is. 

What to include in a personal leave request email

Your specific request

State the reason for your email and the time that you’re requesting to take off.

A brief explanation

It’s helpful to share the reason that’s prompting you to ask for leave so your employer understands why you think this is the best option. Keep it concise, sharing just an overview and not a deep dive into your personal life.

Support for your request

One of the most important factors in whether your request is approved is your employer’s level of confidence in you. They need to feel comfortable that you’re not going to disappear on them and that you’ll be able to smoothly transition back into your role when your leave ends. Include statements that support this.

A thank you

Conclude by expressing your appreciation for considering your request.

What you should omit

  • Extensive personal details. Sharing too much information can hurt your case and, unfortunately, could negatively impact how company leaders see you. Keep it to just the basics when explaining what’s going on. 
  • False assurances. Sometimes, you might not know the date you’ll be able to come back to work. If this is the case, don’t guess. This only complicates the matter and will give you one more thing to deal with when you’re supposed to be attending to your personal situation.

Sample personal leave request email

Dear [Boss’s Name],

As we discussed in person earlier today, I would like to request a leave of absence from May 1 to June 12. I will be having surgery and the extended recovery period will make it difficult to carry out my job duties during that time. 

In anticipation of this procedure, I have already begun briefing [coworker] on my current projects and have been looping her in on my account updates. I feel confident that we can achieve a smooth transition and that when my leave ends, I’ll be able to resume my normal duties with no disruption to our clients’ service. 

Thank you for considering my request.  I can be reached at [###-###-####] with any questions. 


[Your Name] 

Keep your message succinct and direct, and be sure to CC your HR department on the email to your boss.