How to Take a Leave of Absence From Your Nursing Job

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Kathleen Walder Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nurse planning a break

Whether for family, medical, or personal reasons, there are a variety of good reasons to take a leave of absence from work. But before you temporarily step away, it’s important to be mindful of your employer’s needs when you’re thinking about how to take a leave of absence from your nursing job. This helps ensure your ability to return to work more easily and may even increase the likelihood of your request being granted.

Research the Company’s Leave Policy and Your Legal Rights

Inform yourself of your company’s policy on extended leave, and the reasons for time off that are protected by law. Awareness of this information can impact how you frame your request and make the conversation between you and your supervisor go more smoothly. This may also protect you from being taken advantage of in case your boss tries to alter those facts to deter you from taking time off.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Researching the FMLA is one of the first steps in learning how to take a leave of absence because it tells you about an employee’s right to take unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. Under FMLA, the eligible employee maintains the same insurance coverage, and their position is held until his or her return. Qualifying employees in any state are eligible to take 12 weeks off for:

  • Childbirth
  • Adoption
  • Care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Self-care for a health condition that impedes the employee’s ability to work
  • Urgent needs related to a spouse, child, or parent on military active duty

Employees can take 26 weeks off work to care for a military spouse, child, parent, or if the employee is the next of kin to a member of the military with a serious injury.

You’re likely eligible for FMLA if you’ve been with a company for at least a year, worked at least 1,250 hours, and the company at which you’re employed has at least 50 employees.

It’s wise to review your situation with a lawyer who can answer questions about whether or not you’re covered by the FMLA.

Voluntary Leave

Sabbaticals and long-term travel are examples falling under this category. The absence of legal protection may affect the way you approach how to take a leave of absence, but it doesn’t snuff out your chances of approval altogether. It’s up to the employer’s discretion. Make sure you get the terms you’ve agreed upon in writing.

Ask In Person or on a Video Call

Rather than sending an email or calling your supervisor on the phone, request an in-person or video meeting . This way, your employer is able to see all your non-verbal cues indicating your need to make this ask and your respect for them. You can readily answer questions regarding the reasons for your leave and how you’ll aid the transition.

Follow Up With an Email

This is an important step in how to take a leave of absence because a paper trail creates a record of the terms of your leave. You may also need proof in the future for legal reasons.

Set a Clear Time Frame and Inform Your Employer in Advance

Providing your employer with a specific time frame is important because it helps them plan how to fill your role while you’re away. Let them know well before your intended leave date, whenever possible. This may also alleviate any reactionary anxiety, thus increasing your chances of being approved for an extended time off.

Help Your Employer Cover Your Position

Your absence may strain the workplace. Having a plan, or the beginnings of one at the very least, is not only a courtesy, but also boosts your chances of being allowed to take time off. It may also ease your transition back to work when your leave of absence is complete.

Inform Your Colleagues

When your leave is approved, send an email to let your colleagues know you’ll be absent. This is not only polite, but also necessary in order to implement the plan you and your employer create to fill the void you’ll be leaving. Your leave will likely have ripple effects outside of the people with whom you directly work. General awareness will help your department adjust as a whole and foster a transparent work culture.

Navigating How to Take a Leave of Absence Just Got Easier

The reasons behind taking an extended time off may be a lot to handle, but securing workplace flexibility can make things easier. Choosing how you work makes it easy for you to manage your schedule. Learn how IntelyCare can help.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but it is not intended to constitute professional legal advice for any particular situation and should not be relied on as professional legal advice. Any references to the law may not be current as laws regularly change through updates in legislation, regulation, and case law at the federal and state level. Nothing in this article should be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.