Types of Employee Leave

November 3, 2023

No employee can manage to consistently report to work every day without any valid absences. There’s always a reason to request time away from work, this can range from taking a week off to unwind at your annual getaway, for parenting reasons or to simply tend to your runny nose. There are many types of leave that every organisation should offer its employees.

HR needs to have a sound understanding of the types of leave entitled to employees so that they can be able to set up clear and reasonable leave policies and systems to monitor them. A good leave policy in place goes a long way in promoting employee well-being and helping the company maintain compliance. 

This article covers several types of paid, unpaid, mandatory and perhaps not-so-common types of employee leave. It also explores ways of effectively managing leave and many other HR-related insights. 


Why is it important to have a sound leave policy? 

What are the different types of employee leave? 

Tips on how to manage and track leave from work 


Why Is it Important to Have a Sound Leave Policy? 


Benefits of a clear leave policy 

A time when an employee is not required to report for work is known as a leave from work. Some countries such as the UK, have several set laws requiring employers to offer various types of leave to their employees. The other types of leave that are not compulsory can be given by the company as part of its employee benefits package. All these are covered by the leave policy, which consists of guidelines on how to request a leave, the permitted duration of time off work, the specific reason for taking time away from work and the types of leave that employees can take.

A good leave policy should be clear, flexible and updated to match new laws and the employee’s needs. Many benefits come with having a well-designed leave policy in place, these include:

  • To maintain consistency in treating employees fairly and equally. 
  • To reduce absenteeism and its impacts. 
  • To protect the employers against unnecessary employee absences from work. 
  • To Improve employee morale and loyalty. 
  • To enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction. 
  • To attract and retain top talent. 

What Are the Different Types of Employee Leave?


Types of Leave  

Before exploring the different types of leave that can be included in a leave policy, it is important to know the difference between the following; paid and Unpaid leave.  Paid leave refers to the time spent away from work that is compensated by your employers. Examples of various types of leave that fit this class include holiday leave, sick leave, compassion leave and others. Unpaid leave is a type of leave from work that is not paid for by the employer. For instance, bereavement leave. 

1.   Holiday Leave

This is a type of voluntary leave whereby an employee plans and takes time off work for personal reasons. For instance, to go on a vacation. Most countries have laws that specify the minimum amount of holiday leave entitled to every employee. Other details such as the duration of the vacation leave and the procedure for requesting it are specified by every organization’s leave policy.

2.   Parental Leave

This type can be further classified into maternity and paternity leave. Maternity leave is taken by mothers to recover from the process of delivering a newborn baby as well as to get a chance to nurture and bond with the baby. The duration of the maternity leave also differs depending on the legislation of a particular state.

According to the Statutory Maternity Leave set by the UK government, eligible workers are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, the first half of it being the ordinary maternity leave. The leave can be taken as early as 11 weeks before the expected child’s birth and after delivery, the mother is given about 4 weeks of paid leave. They can request for extra time if necessary. The employees are still entitled to a maternity leave even if the baby dies especially after the 24th week of pregnancy. 

This is a paid type of leave and the employee’s other employment rights are fully protected during this time. The US laws however offer employees 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave annually. Paternity leave, on the other hand, is a much shorter type of parental leave. It allows both parents to take time off to look after a new baby in the family, whether adopted or nnewborn.

3.   Sick Leave

This is an involuntary type of leave, whereby an employee requires time off to recover from an illness or injury. The duration and salary of a sick leave depend on the legislation of each state as well as the company’s leave policy. 

4.   Bereavement Leave

This is an unpaid type of leave, whereby employees take time to mourn the loss of a loved one, especially close family members. This leave is meant to allow grieving, make arrangements, attend and sort out any issues related to the funeral.  There are no laws supporting bereavement leave, as such many employees normally use Paid time off and sick leave for their bereavement. 

5.   Sabbatical Leave

This is whereby an employee takes a longer period away from work to focus on personal projects such as schooling or volunteering. This type of leave is normally reserved for longest-serving employees or those who have been loyal to the organization over a certain period. Whether the leave is paid or not depends on each company’s leave policy, some employers may choose to pay a certain percentage, others may pay full salary whereas others may not choose to pay at all. 

6.   Public Holidays 

Depending on each state’s laws and leave policies, employees are entitled to paid leave during public holidays such as New Year and Christmas holidays. Some laws emphasize that employees have to be paid double for working during public holidays. 

7.   Family Leave

This is an unpaid type of leave, whereby an employee takes time off to look after a sick family member. The duration depends on the conditions specified by your leave policy. 

Tips on How to Manage and Track Leave From Work


How to manage leave

Many different types of leave can make it hard for HR to effectively keep track of them all. Below are some of the tips you can use to manage leave from work:

  • Set up clear leave policies. 
  • Use reliable leave management software like leave wizard.com
  • Be prompt, considerate and consistent when dealing with leave requests. 
  • Promote open communication. 
  • Set realistic return-to-work schedules. 


What should be included in a leave policy? 

Leave policies should include all essential details such as the types of leave permitted for employees, duration of leave, reasons for taking leave, eligibility criteria, procedure for requiring leave, benefits, return to work procedures and many others. 

What type of leave should be included in a leave policy?

This is determined by the set laws of your state as well as the current needs of your employees. 

There are many other types of leave that we may not have covered in this article. When setting up a leave policy it is always important to make sure it matches the updated laws, employee rights as well as the needs of employees. Remember, employees require leave every once in a while to improve their well-being.  Also, a happy, healthy workforce is a highly productive workforce. So, make sure you update your policies so they start enhancing employee job satisfaction and loyalty.