What Is Unpaid Leave?

Unpaid leave is a temporary, unpaid absence from work that an employee may request from an employer. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 grants new parents and people dealing with major health problems certain rights to unpaid leave.

Aside from legal directives, employers often have the right to agree to or deny a worker's request for unpaid leave. If an employee simply wants a break from work without pay, the employer is normally not obligated to comply. The premise is that, unlike a resignation or termination of employment, the break without pay is brief, and a return to work is expected.