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What You Need to Know Before You Take a Long Leave From Work

Going on a long leave is seldom easy. Whatever the reason for leave, it is the joint responsibility of the manager and the employee to figure out a suitable solution to their mutual situation. Here are a few pointers to help the employee and the manager find a good middle ground.

long leave 

(Photo Credit: Dan Ruswick via Unsplash)

A long leave is typically a period greater than four weeks, although each organization can have its own definition. A lot can change over a month -- the org structure, business priorities, and so on. To make the transition smooth, here's how the employee and manager can partner for an effective transition. 

Employee Manager
Give enough notice: Let your manager know of your plans in advance, so she has sufficient time to plan and allocate your projects and prioritize deliverables. Giving advance notice will also give your manager confidence about your work ethic and commitment to the business needs. Talk about the transition and make a human connection: It’s not just about the work or the project. Offer to extend as much support as your employee would require during the time. Don’t be in a haste to ensure a proper handover. Thank the employee for her commitment to work and ask if she could document the work till such a time as you are able to find a back-up. Explain that this could also help the team avoid contacting her in case of any queries or clarifications.
Establish a means for regular/ongoing contact if you so wish: Be it through emails/weekly/monthly phone calls or just apprising your manager of important information. Let him know if you want to stay in touch during the period of your leave. Sometimes its just not possible, but if you can make the time in your break, you have the option of staying updated. Assign a buddy: Assign a point of contact the employee trusts and can reach out to for any specific needs if you do not have the bandwidth to do so. Even if the employee does not reach out, he can rest assured that he has a contact, other than the manager, within the organization when they need to connect. The buddy can communicate based on the employee’s needs.
Talk to your HR representative: A long leave could impact various aspects of your employment: your benefits, legal requirements accompanying parental leave, FMLA, disability, etc. Talking to HR can help clarify the impact. Work with HR and the employee to figure out alternate options: Explore options that would work well for you and the employee. Would part-time or work-from-home options be a good alternative that might help both of you instead of a long leave? What are your organization’s policies in this regard?
Talk about your plans for return: Discuss your timeline for returning to work, if you are aware of it. If you do not know for sure, offer to keep your manager posted. Also discuss about possible options on your return – a change in role, a different team, a different work arrangement: telecommuting, part-time, etc. If you have an inkling of what you could expect, let your manager in on your plans, so she has sufficient time to work out the details. Talk about a tentative time of return: If the employee is able to commit to a time frame, offer to connect a few weeks in advance to discuss options and opportunities. Discuss with HR if you need clarification or have concerns about your employee's needs.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you taken a long leave or are considering one?  What was your experience? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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