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ReedGroup provides employee absence management on behalf of some of North America’s largest employers. We handle different kinds of absence requests, from family and medical leave to military and personal leave. Requesting a leave of absence isn’t supposed to be tricky, but some employees get tripped up. If you’ve found yourself asking “why was my leave request denied”, we may be able to help you understand. What do employees need to know to avoid problems when requesting a leave of absence?

Here are some of the most common reasons leave requests are denied.

  1. You’re Not Eligible for a Leave of Absence

Many leaves of absence require you to have worked a certain amount of time for your employer before you are eligible. For example, to be eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you must

  • work at a location that employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles;
  • have worked at least 12 months with your employer; and
  • have worked 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

If you don’t meet all of the above criteria, you aren’t eligible for leave under the FMLA. Different leaves have different requirements. Even though you aren’t eligible for one type of leave does not necessarily mean that you are not eligible for any leave.

  1. You Have No Leave Time Available

Most leaves of absence have a maximum entitlement, which means you can only take a certain amount of leave within a defined period. For example, under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for most leave reasons (eligible employees can take 26 weeks in a 12-month period for military caregiver leave under the FMLA). If you have already taken leave that year, you may not have enough leave remaining to cover the time you’re requesting.

  1. You Didn’t Submit Required Documentation

Most employers require documentation to support the need for a leave or an accommodation. For medical leaves and accommodations due to disabilities, your health care provider will need to complete a certification or other documentation. It’s your responsibility to ensure that the documentation is submitted to your employer (or leave administrator, if your employer outsources leave management). If the required documentation isn’t submitted, your leave could be denied.

  1. Your Documentation Is Incomplete

What if you submitted documentation but your request is still denied? A common reason: the documentation is incomplete. Always double check documentation to ensure it includes:

  • Start and end dates for your requested leave or accommodation.
  • Supporting medical information, if required. For example, if you need surgery, make sure to include the procedure date as well as the recovery period. If the recovery period is unknown, your health care provider should provide an estimate. Requesting a leave for an undetermined period of time could result in a delay or denial.
  • Signatures and dates. Your healthcare provider will need to sign and date the form and provide some information about their practice. You also may need to sign and date the form.
  • All completed pages. It’s common for employees to submit only a partial form or one that is missing pages.


  1. You Didn’t Submit Documentation on Time

If you submit the required documentation after the due date, your leave request could be denied or delayed. It’s important to read all the materials your employer or leave administrator sends you and take note of any due dates.

If you’re having trouble getting the documentation from your health care provider or think you might miss a deadline, call your employer or leave administrator to explain the situation. Often, they will work with you and provide a documentation extension if they know you are trying to get your paperwork in on time.

  1. You Exceed Your Approved Leave Time

If you are approved for an intermittent leave, you need to follow the approved frequency and duration of your request. For example, if you are approved to miss one day or work per week, but you miss 2 days a week for a few weeks in a row, the additional time might not be approved. Instead you might be required to submit updated documentation supporting the need for additional leave.

What You Can Do

There are certain steps you can take to make the leave process quicker and easier:

  • Read your employer’s leave of absence policies. Such policies often provide information regarding process and due dates and also tell you who to contact if you’re having an issue.
  • Open all the materials your employer (or leave administrator) sends you. Generally, when you first request a leave, you’ll receive packet of information, either by email or on paper, that includes required forms and explains the steps you need to take to move your leave forward. For example, ReedGroup provides employees with checklist in their initial packet so employees can keep track of the required steps. If you are confused, reach out to the point of contact listed in any materials to gain clarification on your questions.
  • If you run into an issue, call your employer or leave administrator as soon as possible. Sometimes, especially during a pandemic, you might have trouble getting an appointment with your health care provider, or your provider might not complete information timely. However, if your employer knows that you are attempting to obtain the required information, they might grant you an extension.

What ReedGroup Is Doing

ReedGroup provides tailored absence management services for employers, including full-service administration, co-sourcing (we manage some leave types; the employer manages others), and purpose-built enterprise software designed for absence management. Our case managers and customer care teamwork with employees to help them understand how to navigate the leave process. For more information about the services we offer, visit our website.


Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic. 

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