Am I allowed to take a 7 week leave of absence for undisclosed “personal reasons”?

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Am I allowed to take a 7 week leave of absence for undisclosed “personal reasons”?

I have an opportunity for paid international travel for 7 weeks. Can my employer elect to not hire me back? If so, am I entitled to any unemployment compensation?

Asked on April 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You have no legal right to take a leave of absence from work, except and only to the extent that either 1) you have a contract allowing you take a "sabattcal" or leave (like some college professors or corporate researchers may have); or 2) you are taking the leave for medical reasons, and both you and your employer are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Otherwise, your employer may terminate you if you try, or even request, a leave of absence and is under no obligation to rehire you.  Furthermore, you would not be entitled to unemployment compensation--unemployment compensation is for those who are involuntarily separated (fired or laid off) from work, and not for cause, not for someone who voluntarily leaves to pursue an enriching or fun opportunity. Your request to leave or miss work, when you don't have grounds for it, could be taken as resignation; or if you do miss work without permission, that would be grounds for termination for cause, and termination for cause, such as for unauthorized absence, makes one ineligible for  unemployment compensation.


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