Providing time off, paid or unpaid, supports employees’ needs and may result in increased retention or easier employee recruitment. Time off may be for employee family needs (sickness, bereavement, emergencies) or personal revitalization (vacation, sabbaticals, wellness days, holidays).

Leave benefits may include a combination of paid and unpaid leave. Before you assume you cannot afford paid leave, you may want to look at the costs of not offering paid leave. In some cases, not having paid leave may encourage an employee to instead leave the organization, resulting in additional employer costs of recruiting, training and lost productivity.


  • First determine whether your company size, location, etc. requires specific benefits (e.g. state laws, FMLA).
  • Offering combined medical/vacation/personal leave helps employees tailor leave to their needs.
  • Some employers allow employees to donate their time to co-workers, anonymously if they wish.
  • Allowing employees use leave time n small increments can better meet their personal needs.
  • If leave is paid, it may also help alleviate employee stress and financial challenges.
  • Some employers use a system that allows employees to accrue leave time or to “bank” leave time, for future use by themselves or by co-workers with significant leave needs.
  • Leave may help employees avoid dependent care challenges or expenses, especially if leave may be flexible.
  • Offering parental leave for all genders is more equitable, better meets personal needs, and can increase retention.
  • Leave may burden coworkers or supervisors who temporarily take on the leave-taker’s responsibilities.
  • Cross-training can help those taking on leave-taker’s responsibilities.
  • If an interim hire is needed to cover an employee’s leave, it could cause additional expense.
  • You can help prevent illness or the spread of illness by creating a workplace culture where employees are encouraged to use their leave to stay home when ill and to achieve work/life balance when they are well.