“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.