Author Topic: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?  (Read 4942 times)

jennyh

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Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« on: March 05, 2015, 01:13:47 PM »
Hi All - Does anyone here have experience from requesting a leave of absence?  My husband (a teacher) has earned a grant to accomplish a lifelong dream this summer to ride his bicycle from coast to coast.  We decided when he was applying for it that if given the chance we were going to take the leap and make it a family adventure, he riding and myself and our 18-month-old son taking the RV so we all have a place to sleep and cook along the way. 

We are so excited, but of course my introverted and analytical self is dreading the discussion with my employer.  I am prepared to resign if I have to, but hoping not to.  We are not FI yet  but are stable enough to be ok.  My worst case scenario is that I would have to quit my job and could enjoy some extra time with our son while I ponder my next steps.  But, I have worked since I was 17 and the thought of leaving a good job without a real plan afterwards of course makes me nervous.  I am an accountant, have worked here for 3+ years, had a maternity leave last year.  4 of the 8 weeks I need to be gone are during a really busy time where it could be a real issue for me to be gone and though I plan to propose doing some work remotely to address that, the general attitude around my department is against telecommuting.  I think I have a good reputation here but when I negotiated a flexible work arrangement after my maternity leave last year to only work 4 days a week it did not go quite as well as I had hoped.  My negotiation skills are lacking at best, which could very well be why I ended up settling for the least I was able to accept.  I ended up taking a proportional pay cut but my responsibilities were not reduced and have also been taking on extra since then (because I have a hard time saying no and don't want to be seen as 'not a team player').  There has also been talk from one of my managers about a possible promotion in my future, but hasn't materialized yet in any concrete way. 

This has been long and rambling, but basically I am looking for good advice to make this conversation go smoothly and at the very least be able to walk away with a good reference if I leave.  Also, hopefully some encouragement for my big crazy mini-retirement plan!

Chrissy

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2015, 01:54:42 PM »
I took a leave of absence, but my employer has a process for that which is outlined in our handbook.  I just followed the steps.

The advice you really need is to TOUGHEN UP.  Stop being grateful for the job.  When you first got it, it was an "opportunity", but 3+ years later, it's just a job.  And, a job that SCREWED you, your baby, and your husband when they cut your pay, but not your work load.  That's not a flex plan, it's bullshit.

You want to be seen as a team player?  Well, the team you play for is your family, and your employer has the ball.  Now, go get it!  Be polite and professional, but firm.  I wouldn't breathe a word of your forthcoming adventure until you're 2 weeks away from hitting the road.  The deadline will push you to be more aggressive, and gives your employer less time to yank you around.  If they can't hold your job, tender your 2-weeks notice. 

When you tell them, use a series of declarative statements:

My husband has THIS opportunity.  It starts on THIS date.  I'm pleased to say I'm going with him as his support staff.  We're returning on THIS date.  I'd love to resume my duties with your company at that time.

And, then say NOTHING.  No, "...if that's possible..." or "I was wondering if..."  or "...if it's okay with you..."  Let them as all the questions.  Answer them concisely, and then say NOTHING.  Don't give your power away.

Good luck, and happy journeys to your and your husband on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Patches

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2015, 03:24:00 PM »
My wife and I both took year-long sabbaticals to travel around South America.  Her employer had a program for employees in good standing, but mine didn't.  I was a lumber trader at the time and it's an extremely competitive field.  I knew I'd be fired so I went in to quit and my boss said, "Why don't you take a sabbatical?"  I don't imagine that to be the norm, but I think if you had a heart to to heart with your boss about your desires, etc and if they are worth a darn they'd be willing to listen.  Like Chrissy said, be firm and vocal in your statements both about needing to take this trip of a lifetime (even though we all know it will be one of many) and of your desire to remain with company.  You don't need to explain to your boss that their gesture of good faith will make you a more dedicated and hardworking employee.  If they say no, immediately give notice.  When you get back (and only when you get back, not ahead of time) find an employer who values your courage and your life experience.  Use your quitting as proof how you had to fall on the sword to get yourself ready to commit fully to a new job.  And random internet guy (me) promises that if you quit you'll gain a ton of confidence in your negotiating skills.  You will know that this job is just as meaningless a cog in the wheels of commerce as any...  Regardless, this is all easy for me to say because it worked out well for me, but I understand your angst.

Double regardless! You have to do this if only because of what Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."  Kinda hoakie, but capital "T" Truth.

Godspeed.

Cookie78

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2015, 03:35:58 PM »
This may or may not help you, but both times I requested it I spun the question in a way that benefitted them as well as myself. If it's possible for you to spin it in such a way it might help.

I was lucky in that both times I was working in jobs that had a slow season. The first time winter was incredibly busy, and summer was slow. There were 2 people in my position, and they wanted to hire a 3rd who could be trained up by the winter. I expressed my desire to take 3 months off over the summer, while the other employee trained the new employee, then I'd come back for the following winter. Worked great.

The second time summer was the busy season so I requested *6 months off over the winter. My supervisor had no problem with it because I was **willing to go in the winter, to the extent that he told me he'd deal with convincing our manager and director, whose approval I also needed.

*the minimum time for a self-funded leave of absence at the organization, and the maximum time I could stay in the states without extra complications and paperwork.
**willing is an understatement since I spent the time in Phoenix instead of Canada.

Northerly

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2015, 03:42:54 PM »
I took a 4 month leave some years ago, but that was a they need me more than I need them situation, and I was gone during the slow time, so it was OK.

My recommendation is to present a solution, not a problem, to your boss. Along the following lines:
"I'd like to take a leave of absence during XXXX months, so I've lined up XXXX individual/system to cover my accounts/workload/etc. I know this is an unusual request, but I wonder if the company would like some free publicity in being named a supporter of this unique venture. Since I'm only planning to do this once, and I'm committed to this company for the long term, I'd like us both to benefit from the experience."

Or some similar drivel!

Bicycle_B

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2015, 05:05:00 PM »
I concur with the toughen up poster.

I agree with the "make it in their interest" poster too.  However, since your employer seems to have sensed your emotional fears about negotiating, it is quite possible they will try to steamroll you no matter what you try.  I say:

1. Go for it because of personal growth.  You need to face these fears.
2. "Getting More" is an excellent book on negotiating.  It will change your life.  Borrow a copy, write the 12 key items on flash cards, look at one flash card per month, try the technique once per month.  It will change your life.
3. Agree strongly that you have valuable skills now that you have experience. They're probably not paying your market value now anyway, expect a raise in your next job.  That'll pay for vacation by itself.  Enjoy your summer!


Bicycle_B

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2015, 05:07:11 PM »
When you go in to ask, have a "script" - a plan for what you are going to say.  It should be short.  Go in and say it.

This is good practice no matter what else happens.  And if you stick with whatever you said, you will be stronger the rest of life.  Enjoy!

JoJo

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2015, 06:03:36 PM »
I took a LOA last year for travel.  I did ask way ahead of time and as I'm on project based work was able to wind most of them down by my departure.  Having good reviews and rapport with my employer helped too.  Your job will likely not be guaranteed.

jennyh

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 11:42:20 AM »
Thanks All, for the good advice.  You were right that I needed to stay tough and keep it short.  I asked my managers to meet with me, briefly explained the trip and that I was going, expressed my desire to resume working when I returned, and left it at that.  They were surprised, and said they needed time to think about it.  About a week later they got back to me that my leave of absence request had been approved.  So I am going and will be able to return at the end of July!  I am relieved and excited.  This online community is awesome - thanks again for taking a few minutes out of your day to help me!

Chrissy

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2015, 12:59:58 PM »
Yay, yay, yay!  OMG, congratulations!  I'm so glad this worked out for you.  Now, remember to get it all in writing, and then go and have a ball.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2015, 04:49:21 PM »
Way to go, Jennyh!!

Merrie

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2015, 12:28:13 PM »
How exciting! Glad to hear this worked out for you.

JoJo

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2019, 11:00:42 AM »
That's awesome!  Enjoy!

Montecarlo

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2019, 11:08:14 AM »
  I wouldn't breathe a word of your forthcoming adventure until you're 2 weeks away from hitting the road.  The deadline will push you to be more aggressive, and gives your employer less time to yank you around.  If they can't hold your job, tender your 2-weeks notice. 


That's bad advice.  Asking for a leave of 8 weeks with 2 weeks notice is completely unprofessional.

Ask early, and if they say no, then wait until 2 weeks out and put in your notice.

JoJo

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2019, 12:57:31 PM »
oops.  I see this was a really old post.  not sure why it popped up in my fee.

civil4life

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Re: Advice for Requesting a Leave of Absence?
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2019, 04:35:23 PM »
Congrats!!!

It is great that they agreed to the sabbatical.

I am sure the trip will give you plenty of time to relax and enjoy life.  Also, think about your life and what you want after the adventure.

The company you are at does not seem very interested in work life balance.  You mention accounting.  From my understanding that is one field that is one that is commonly able to telework.  I know it is an area where people start their own business.

Have you considered a new place after that has more work life balance?

or

Starting your own business.  Especially if you can build it to primarily be remote even better.