An employer may be required by law to grant a leave of absence to an employee. For example, the FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve (12) month period to eligible employees for certain events. An employer might be required under the ADA to grant a leave of absence to an employee whose FMLA leave has expired as a reasonable accommodation. There are circumstances in which an employer may be required by Title VII to grant a leave of absence to an employee as a religious accommodation.
In addition to these and other statutes that might require a leave of absence depending on the facts, some employers permit employees to take extended leaves of absence for a variety of personal reasons. Employers should be certain to apply any leave of absence policy consistently and in a non-discriminatory manner.