What are the types of leaves to include in a leave policy (with Sample letters)?

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Date published: 29 Oct 2020
by DocPro Legal
Last Update: 23 Aug 2021

One of the most important consideration for someone looking to join a new company is the company’s leave policy and what they are entitled to as an employee. A leave policy consists of a set of rules and procedures which determine employees’ entitlements regarding the types, number, and duration of leaves they are eligible for. Leave policies help ensure that the leaves that employees apply for accommodate company policy. It also sets a clear expectation, ensuring that everyone in the firm is on the same page.

 

 

What is a Leave Policy?

 

A leave policy is a set of rules and procedures that govern employees’ entitlements regarding the different types of paid and unpaid leave they are eligible to take during their term of employment. 

 

Employees requesting leave for absence to attend to personal matters/vacation is an inevitable scenario in the workplace. It is therefore important that you establish a clear policy that lays out the rights of employees regarding the different types of leaves they are entitled to. This lessens the capacity for disagreements and creates a healthier environment for employees.

 

There are different types of leaves, some of which are mandatory by law such as maternity leave. Therefore, as a business, it is important you understand the legal requirements regarding the leave entitlements of your employees and periodically update the policy to ensure compliance with applicable laws. 

 

What are the different types of leaves?

 

The 12 types of leaves you need to include in your leave policy:

 

  1. Annual Leave

  2. Sick Leave

  3. Maternity Leave

  4. Paternity Leave

  5. Adoption Leave

  6. Parental Leave

  7. Bereavement leave/Compassionate Leave

  8. Study Leave

  9. Sabbatical Leave

  10. Unpaid Leave

  11. Casual Leave

  12. Rest Days and Statutory Holidays

 

Why do you need a Leave Policy?

 

You need one simply because every company needs a leave policy. Whether you are a start-up with a handful of employees onboard or a multi-national corporation, you need a well-established leave policy to set out guidelines for employees to take time off from work. A good leave policy should reflect the work culture and environment that you as an organisation aim to provide to your employees. It also constitutes a form of employment benefit you will extend to the prospective employees as a part of their package to join the company.

 

Leave policies are essential for many reasons:

 

  • it enables you to define the different types of leaves;

  • it establishes guidelines and streamlines the procedure for taking such leaves;

  • it manages the expectation of your employees with respect to leave entitlements and eligibility;

  • it protects the rights of your organisation as well as the employees; and

  • fosters a healthy relationship with the staff.

 

 

What does Leave Policy include?

 

A leave policy outlines all the types of leaves that are available to employees during their term of employment. It defines the rules governing the eligibility, entitlement, accrual, and procedure for approval of leave.

 

This article will give you all you need to know to establish a good leave policy for your company. It covers all the important provisions you should include in the leave policy to protect both you and your employees.

 

 

12 types of leaves you need to accommodate within your leave policy

 

Clueless about the different types of leaves that your employees are entitled to? Here is a list of 10 types of leaves you can include in your leave policy:

 

 

1. Annual Leave

 

What is Annual Leave?

Employees can apply for annual leave when they need time off with pay for a vacation or personal reasons. It gives the employee a chance to take a break from work and re-energize without losing their pay. The number of annual leave entitlements depends on factors such as the employment status, length of service, etc. of the employee.

 

To understand the legal minimum regarding annual leave entitlement, read more at: https://docpro.com/blog/employment-contracts-from-an-employers-perspective-what-to-look-out-for-with-templates

 

What to include in Annual Leave Policy?

Annual leave policies must include:

 

  • The eligibility criterion for the employee to apply for annual leave;

  • How many days of annual leave will be given to the employees in a year?

  • Procedure to submit annual leave request in advance for approval by the immediate supervisor;

  • Terms of payment for the unused annual leave days.

Annual Leave

 

DocPro offers an annual leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1837/leave-policy-annual-leave-policy

 

 

2.  Sick Leave

 

What is Sick Leave?

Sick leave allows employees to take time off from work to address their health needs.

 

Employees can apply for sick leave when they are unable to perform their duties due to illness or injury or need to obtain professional services from health care practitioners.

 

Do you need to give Sick Leave to your employees?

Sick leave is a benefit available to maintain the well-being of your employee. It encourages them to take time off from work to recover from illness/attend to their medical needs without the fear of losing pay. In absence of this policy, employees will have to continue to work despite being ill, endangering not only their health but that of other employees.

 

In times of COVID-19, it is even more essential to have a sick leave policy in place to provide a safe and healthy workplace to all the employees.

 

What to include in Sick Leave Policy?

Here are some key provisions that your policy must include with regards to sick leave:

  • Eligibility Criteria i.e. when will the employees be eligible to apply for sick leave after joining your organisation;

  • The maximum number of fully paid sick leaves that the employees will be entitled to annually;

  • Procedure to submit a sick leave request for approval to the immediate supervisor;

  • Medical Certificate requirements;

  • The maximum number of accumulated sick leave days that an employee can carry over to the next year; and

  • Payment for unused accrued sick leave upon termination of employment.

We have created a sick leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1807/leave-policy-sick-leave-policy

 

 

 

3. Maternity Leave

 

What is Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave refers to the leave given to pregnant employees, allowing them to take time off from work before and after childbirth.

 

As an organisation, you must ensure that the maternity leave policies are in compliance with the applicable laws. If you want to understand the legal minimum regarding maternity leave entitlements, then read more at: https://docpro.com/blog/employment-contracts-from-an-employers-perspective-what-to-look-out-for-with-templates

 

 

What to include in the Maternity Leave Policy?

 

A good Maternity Leave Policy must provide for:

 

  • Eligibility criteria (i.e. To be eligible for maternity leave, a female employee must be in continuous contract of employment before the commencement of maternity leave);

  • Period of maternity leave;

  • Payment for maternity leave;

  • Procedure to apply for maternity leave; and

  • Maternity leave in the event of medical termination of pregnancy.

 

Once you have been notified of the pregnancy by the pregnant employee, you are prohibited to dismiss/terminate her employment contract until the end of her maternity leave.

 

DocPro offers a maternity leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1841/leave-policy-maternity-leave-policy

 

4. Paternity Leave

 

paternity leave

 

What is Paternity Leave?

Paternity Leave is a benefit that allows a male employee to take paid leave after birth.

 

If you want to understand the legal minimum regarding Paternity entitlements, then read more at: https://docpro.com/blog/employment-contracts-from-an-employers-perspective-what-to-look-out-for-with-templates

 

 

What to include in Paternity Leave Policy?

A Paternity Leave Policy must outline:

 

  • Eligibility Criteria;

  • No. of leaves granted to the expectant father

 

In many countries, it is not mandatory to provide paternity leave to employees. However, irrespective of the applicable laws, companies are creating paternity leave policies to provide a work-life balance and enable expectant fathers to bond with their babies.

 

We have created a paternity leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1844/leave-policy-paternity-leave-policy

 

 

5. Adoption Leave

 

What is Adoption Leave?

Adoption leave is available to the employees before or after the placement of a child in the household through an adoption agency. Parents who have a child through surrogacy are also eligible for adoption leave.

 

In many countries, adoption leave is not a statutory requirement, meaning that the employer has the flexibility to define the entitlements. It is becoming more common for companies to offer leaves to parents adopting a child to accommodate more diverse family structures.

 

What to include in the Adoption Leave policy?

 

In the case of adoption, only one parent is eligible for adoption leave. So, when a couple adopts a child, they need to choose who will get adoption leave and paternity leave amongst them.

 

The policy must include:

 

  • Minimum length of service to qualify for adoption leave, if applicable

  • Period of Adoption Leave

  • When does the adoption, leave begin? (i.e: after or before the placement of child) 

  • Adoption Certificate requirements

 

We have created a maternity leave policy and paternity leave policy that includes the terms and conditions for adoption leave as well.

  

 

6.  Parental Leave

 

What is Parental Leave?

A parental leave policy is a family-friendly policy that gives employees the opportunity to balance their job and family obligations. The policy enables the employees to take time off from work to attend to matters relating to their children.

 

What to include in Parental Leave Policy?

 

Some of the essential elements of a parental leave policy are:

 

  • The number of days the employee can take off from work;

  • Eligibility criteria to qualify for the paternity leave;

  • Whether the parental leave is paid/unpaid

  • Procedure to submit the leave request

 

We have created a parental leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1843/leave-policy-parental-leave-policy

 

 

7. Bereavement Leave/Compassionate Leave

 

What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement Leave is a period of paid/unpaid leave granted to an employee at the time of death of an immediate family member.

 

Bereavement leave is also known as compassionate leave. During bereavement leave, the employee can attend rituals, grieve the loss of a loved one and take care of any related personal matters.

 

Typically, companies offer a few days of bereavement leave to their employees irrespective of the local laws. If the provision of bereavement leave is mandatory according to the laws that are applicable to your company, you may want to check if it should be paid/unpaid.

 

What to include in Bereavement Leave Policy?

 

A Bereavement Leave Policy must outline:

 

  • The number of days the employee can take off from work;

  • Eligibility criteria to qualify for the paternity leave;

  • What members of the family does the policy cover? and

  • Whether the leave is paid/unpaid

  • Procedure to submit the leave request

 

We have created a bereavement leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1839/leave-policy-bereavement-leave-compassionate-leave

 

 

8.  Study Leave

 

What is the study leave?

Study leave, with or without pay, may be granted to an employee to undertake education, training, and development activities. Many companies offer study leave to enable the employees to pursue additional qualification and up-skill in his/her field of work. This may in turn bring long term benefits to the company.

 

Is study leave mandatory by law?

No, you are not legally required to pay employees if they request time off to study. Therefore, it is at your complete discretion to approve the study leave with or without pay.

 

What to include in the study leave policy?

It’s important you define the terms of study leave so you do not treat every request for leave to study differently. The policy must specify:

 

  • The eligibility criteria;

  • The procedure to submit a request for study leave;

  • Whether it will be paid or unpaid; and

  • The maximum duration of study leave that can be permitted

 

We created a study leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1845/leave-policy-study-leave-policy

 

 

Study Leave

 

9. Sabbatical Leave

 

What is Sabbatical Leave?

Sabbatical leave allows the employees to take an extended break from work following the employer’s approval. During the sabbatical period, the employee continues to be employed by the company but does not perform his/her professional duties.

 

The employees can use the sabbatical leave to pursue personal interests such as travel. It is a benefit you can consider offering to employees who have served for a long time at the company.

 

What to include in Sabbatical Leave policy?

Since sabbatical leave is not mandatory by law, you have the full discretion to determine the terms of sabbatical including the period of sabbatical, whether it is paid or unpaid, etc.

 

However, it is important to have a clear and transparent policy to avoid any ambiguities. Here are some key elements you must include in the policy:

 

  • How long an employee should work for the company before they qualify for a sabbatical? (Note: It is common for companies to grant sabbatical leave after five or more years of service);

  • Maximum period of sabbatical leave that can be granted; 

  • Whether the sabbatical leave will be paid or unpaid; and

  • Notification Requirements

DocPro offers a sabbatical leave policy template which we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1847/leave-policy-sabbatical-leave-policy

 

 

10.  Unpaid Leave Policy/ Leave without Pay

 

What is an Unpaid Leave Policy?

The policy allows employees to apply for unpaid leaves for personal reasons, subject to approval by the employer. It can be consulted when an employee runs out of paid leaves.

 

What does Unpaid Leave Policy include? 

A well-structured unpaid leave policy provides clarity to the employees as to their entitlements and facilitates the employer to manage such leave requests in a fair manner.

 

The policy must outline:

 

  • Eligibility criteria (Note: typically, such leaves are offered irrespective of the length of service) 

  • The maximum duration of unpaid leave

  • Terms and conditions of employment during unpaid leave

  • Procedure to apply for unpaid leave.

  • That the employees do not have the right to take unpaid leave and it is subject to the discretion of the employer.

 

Can the employer unilaterally instruct the employee to take unpaid leave?

No, an employer is not legally allowed to instruct an employee to take unpaid leave unless otherwise agreed in the employment contract. The employer’s right to require an employee to take unpaid leave must be expressly stated in the employment contract; otherwise, it could amount to a breach of contract.

 

DocPro offers a leave without pay policy/ Unpaid leave policy template, which we recommend you use. You can find it here: https://docpro.com/doc1846/leave-policy-leave-without-pay-unpaid-leave

 

 

11.  Casual Leave

 

What is Casual Leave? 

Casual leave is granted to employees when they cannot report to work for a couple of days due to personal reasons. The employees can avail these leaves without losing payment.

 

Casual leave, however, cannot be used for a vacation, and you can cap the number of casual leaves employees can take per month.

 

What to include in the leave policy for Casual Leaves?

The policy must include:

 

  • Entitlement – It is common for companies to allow up to 3 days of casual leave every month.

  • Whether casual leaves can be carried forward to the next year? Generally, unused casual leaves lapse at the end of the year and cannot be carried forward to the next year.

  • The unused casual leaves are not payable to the employees

  • Procedure for requesting casual leave and if they can be clubbed with any other leaves

 

We have created a casual leave policy template that we recommend you use. You can find it here: 

https://docpro.com/doc1848/leave-policy-casual-leave-policy

 

holiday

 

12.  Rest Days and Statutory Holidays

 

What is Employee Rest Day?

This is where an employee under a contract is entitled to not less than 1 rest day every 7 days. The rest day must be a continuous period of 24hours during which the employee does not need to work for the employer.

 

What to include in the leave policy for a Rest Day?

  • Appointment of rest days (i.e.: appointing a day as a rest day on a regular or irregular basis depending on the nature of work)

  • Whether the rest day will be paid or unpaid;

  • Terms of compensation, if payable, to the employee for working on a rest day.

 

What are Statutory Holidays? 

Statutory holidays are the holidays granted by the government and must be followed by all organisations. Statutory holidays are also known as public holidays.

 

What to include in the leave policy regarding Statutory Holidays?

Key points to consider about Statutory holidays: 

 

  • Enlisting the public holidays as published by the government

  • Whether all employees are entitled to take public holidays, i.e. full-time/part-time employees;

  • If the public holiday falls on a rest day, will the employees be granted a holiday the next day?

 

 

We have created an Employee Handbook template that includes the terms for rest days and statutory holidays: https://docpro.com/doc1158/employee-handbook-manual-company 

 

Comprehensive Leave Policy Template

 

DOWNLOAD IN WORD OR PDF: Comprehensive Leave Policy (Annual Leave, Sick Leave, Bereavement Leave, Maternity, Paternity Leave, Casual Leave, sabbatical leave, statutory holidays/public holidays, unpaid leaves)

It is a comprehensive leave policy template that includes all the different types of leaves with their eligibility criteria and procedure to apply.

 

Please note that this is a general guide on the different types of leave that a leave policy must include. This does not constitute legal advice. As each business may be different, you may want to speak to your local lawyer.

 

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