Leaves of Absence Prep 101

Your employees are human, which means occasionally they encounter situations that take them away from work for extended periods of time. Maternity leaves, illnesses, injuries and sabbaticals often require employees to take time off work. How can you best handle these leaves of absence without burdening your remaining staff?

  1. Plan ahead. Fortunately, some leaves are anticipated, such as sabbaticals, maternity and military leaves, which provide you with plenty of time to plan. Check with your human resources professional or legal counsel for a clear understanding of existing policies, practices, or legal requirements on addressing leave requests of any type. However, other departures are not expected, such as illness or injury. It’s important that you prepare today, because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Prepare your employees for unexpected leaves of absence by cross training. Be sure everyone is informed of each other’s responsibilities, workflow and common practices. Consider having at least one designated backup for every person in your department.


  1. Ask for advice. If you have any advanced notice of a leave of absence, ask the employee to create a plan for managing responsibilities in his/her absence. He/she can advise on what things are critical, what things can slide and who would be best suited to handle his/her tasks.


  1. Divide responsibilities. Divide up the departing employee’s tasks in advance to prevent something from falling through the cracks. This way your remaining employees are aware of the additional tasks and responsibilities on their plates, so they can rearrange and adapt their schedules accordingly.


  1. Consider hiring a temporary employee. Hiring a temporary employing works best for administrative tasks that someone can easily pick up. For instance, if you have a department without administrative support, hiring someone to conquer the admin tasks will allow the remaining employees to manage the departing employee’s higher-level tasks on top of their own.

All in all, leaves of absence do not have to be a burden. With proper preparation and effective divvying up of responsibilities, it can be a seamless transition.