13 types of employee leave to help your work-life balance

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A leave of absence can allow employees to leave their jobs for short or long periods to support their work-life balance. Under certain conditions, you can take leave and still get paid. If you're sick or expecting a baby, you can take time off to care for yourself or your child. In this article, we cover the different types of employee leave your employer might offer you, their restrictions and lengths and when you can request them.

What are the types of employee leave?

The various types of employee leave fall into the categories of health, personal breaks and bereavement. There's an employee leave option for almost every situation where you might require more leave to manage your work-life balance. You apply for leave through your employer's human resources department. As of October 2022, these are the guidelines for different types of leave according to the government:

1. Statutory maternity leave

This is a form of paid time off that employers give to those expecting a baby. The time varies according to your health and the choices you make, but the minimum time the law requires you to take off is two weeks following the birth. If you have a strenuous job, the minimum might extend to four weeks after you give birth. You can also apply for ordinary maternity leave, 26 weeks, and additional maternity leave, which can add another 26 weeks.

Request this time off at least 15 weeks before your due date. Provide proof of the pregnancy to your employer at least 21 days before your leave begins. Your employer informs you before you start the leave how much money you receive while on leave and the start and end dates. If you adopt a child, you can also take leave, following the same general rules as maternity leave.

Related: How to write a return to work after maternity leave letter

2. Statutory primary caregiver leave

The partners of those expecting babies can take primary caregiver leave when their partner gives birth or when they've adopted a child. The leave is for one or two weeks on consecutive days. If you choose to take this leave, you must request it from your employer at least 15 weeks before the due date.

3. Shared parental leave

If you and your partner both work, you can share parental leave. You can share 37 weeks of paid leave and up to 50 weeks of leave in total. There's no requirement for each of you to take your leave in a single block, so you can split the weeks between you in the way that best suits you. If you choose this form of leave, let your employer know eight weeks before you intend to start it and give eight weeks' notice of any changes you subsequently make to your leave plans.

Related: How long is maternity leave in the UK?

4. Statutory parental bereavement leave

If your child is stillborn after 24 weeks of gestation, or if your child dies before the age of 18, you can take paid parental bereavement leave. The time allowed is one or two weeks. You can take the two weeks non-consecutively. Remember to inform your employer 28 days before you take this leave. You have a year and four weeks to claim statutory parental bereavement leave. For other bereavements, employers may grant paid or unpaid "compassionate leave".

Related: What is bereavement leave? Definition, how it works and examples

5. Emergency leave for your family and dependents

You can take leave from your job if your family or dependents have an emergency and require your help. If you take this leave, you don't always receive pay. It's usually at your employer's discretion whether they pay you in these circumstances. You can request this type of leave as soon as you know it's necessary to give your employer as much notice as possible. Family and dependents leave is discussed with your employer and agreed on for the best solution.

Related: How to write a leave request email (with examples)

6. Career breaks

As an employee, you can ask for a career break, but your employer is under no obligation to grant you one. You might request this type of leave while considering your career options within the organisation. Discuss this leave with your employer and agree on how long it can be and how much pay, if any, you might receive during it. Note that your employer is not obliged to offer you the same job if and when you return to work.

7. Public duties

Public duties include jury service and roles in local government and unions. The law doesn't require your employer to pay you for your jury service or certain other forms of public duty. When you undertake these duties, though, your employment contract remains intact. Your employer can decide whether to support other types of public duty, so you might want to discuss these with your manager before taking them on.

Related: What is unpaid leave? (Definition, examples and FAQ)

8. Holiday entitlement

Employers provide their employees with annual leave to use for personal reasons. The minimum annual leave is 28 days for a full-time employee. It's a paid leave that you agree with your employer before you take it. Employers can reject annual leave requests if it's a busy time for the business or if other employees have already booked leave on the same dates. There is a requirement that each full-time employee uses at least 28 days of annual leave per year. These are separate from bank holidays.

Related: Complete guide: what is PTO and what are the different types?

9. Statutory sick leave

If you have an illness or health condition, you can receive paid time off for up to 28 weeks of the year. Sick leave gives you time to focus on your health if you've suffered an injury or have a chronic ailment. Some types of sick leave include:

Short-term sick leave

You might have flu or a stomach upset and require time off to recover. Your employer expects a fit note from a healthcare professional if your leave lasts seven days or more. For sick leave of fewer than seven days, your employer can decide that self-certification is enough. This is when you submit the details online or on paper.

Related: What is sick leave pay? (Plus other sick leave FAQs)

Long-term sick leave

You might require this type of leave if you sustain a serious injury, like a broken leg, and there's a set recovery time. Long-term sick leave begins after four weeks of sickness. If you have a chronic illness, your condition may extend beyond the typical sick pay an organisation offers. Discuss possible alternative work options with your employer.

Related: How to write a sick leave letter (with template and example)

10. Extended leave

You can ask for extended leave if you want to take a long period off work for personal reasons like travel, health improvement or professional development and would like your job to still be there for you when you return. Your employer doesn't pay you when you take extended leave, but many organisations are willing to agree to this type of leave. Request this leave in advance and provide supporting documentation as required.

11. Unlimited paid time off

This leave is an additional employee benefit employers can offer to professionals when they join the organisation. If the employee completes a project early, the employer gives them paid time off until the next project starts. Unlimited paid time off encourages trust in the workplace and increases productivity. It results in employees taking fewer sick days and higher staff morale. This is not to be confused with time off in lieu (TOIL) where an employer gives you paid time off instead of paying overtime, e.g. gives you an extra day's holiday entitlement if you work on a bank holiday.

Related: What is a leave of absence? (and how to ask for it)

12. Extra time off

Extra time off is the type of leave an organisation pays its employees to take for certain occasions. There isn't a limited number of days, as this varies according to each employer. As with unlimited paid time off, employers use this as an incentive to increase productivity.

Related: What's garden leave? (6 things you can do during your leave)

13. Garden leave

Employers sometimes put you on garden leave when you resign and are working on your notice period or if you have received a notice of dismissal. In these circumstances, your employer wants to protect sensitive information if you gain future employment with a competitor. During this period, you might not have access to the organisation's equipment, data or computer system, and you might work from home. Usually, your employer wants you to help another employee as they take on your former responsibilities. Your employer pays you for this type of leave.

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