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Leave of Absence (LOA)

Last updated: November 28, 2019

What Does Leave of Absence (LOA) Mean?

A leave of absence (LOA) is an employer-authorized period of time during which a worker is away from their primary job. During this time the worker retains their status as an employee and all related benefits (salary, compensation, insurance, and so on).

A leave of absence is different than normal periods away from the workplace that may be designated for work-leave benefits, such as paid holidays, vacations, sabbaticals, and "working from home" programs. Instead, it is considered exceptional circumstances and needs to be approved by a supervisor or other general manager.

Leaves of absence may be paid or unpaid based on previous arrangements. Depending on individual jurisdictions, it is at the employer's discretion to approve or reject a LOA request.

Safeopedia Explains Leave of Absence (LOA)

There are two common types of LOAs: medical and personal. Each of them can be either paid or unpaid at the employer's discretion.

Generally, most employees qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take up to a 12-week, unpaid, medical leave of absence to care for themselves or family members, without losing their job and benefits. However, cases outside of the the Family and Medical Leave Act (or a state law with equivalent or better provisions) do not legally obligate employers to grant workers leave of absence benefits, even without pay.


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