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Due to a variety of factors (mental health, the pandemic, some family issues, and uncertainty as to whether the job is a fit for me), I tried to resign. My manager was shocked, stated they value my work, and asked me to speak with HR first to consider my options.

It turns out one of those options is a leave of absence. It sounds like they are willing to let me depart (no pay but with benefits) for an indefinite period of time (I said I needed at least two months).

I voiced to HR that the reason I had planned to resign was that I’m just in a tough place right now where I’m not even sure what’s causing me so much stress, and it could indeed be the job. What if I come back from this absence only to actually quit? They seemed to think that was a possible outcome (I’m in an at-will state) and said they wouldn’t begrudge me that.

I just don’t know. It seems too good to be true. I’m also thinking having a fixed go-back date may not help my anxiety. But then again, it almost seems like I have nothing to lose by taking the offer of an absence. And maybe it will help; there are things I really like about this job, but it’s also been very stressful at times and has led to multiple panic attacks.

I’ve read through other leave of absence posts here on the site and my situation seems different. I have no reason to believe my employer is acting in bad faith (other than a general skepticism that most employers will do what’s best for the company, not what’s best for me) and I’m not taking this leave for anything specific — more a collection of stressors, and none of them have a specific end date like having surgery or finishing education do.

Hoping for some insight. Especially if there are downsides I’m not considering and should.

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  • Can you afford 2 months without pay?
    – Kilisi
    Apr 23 at 15:15
  • Yes, I can. I was fully prepared to be out of work for months, if need be, after resigning.
    – user125570
    Apr 23 at 15:18
  • I don't think there are obvious drawbacks, you just need to be sure that they don't let go of you while you are away, and that you let them know when you will or won't come back. They may find a permanent or temporary replacement for you in some instances.
    – Al rl
    Apr 23 at 15:19
  • Thank you for asking if I’m getting help — yes, I am working with a therapist and have been for a while. And no, I didn’t need permission to resign. I work in an at-will state and could’ve quit on the spot. Our handbook also states notice is not required. But I had planned to give two weeks’. I was completely unprepared for being offered an alternative like this one.
    – user125570
    Apr 23 at 16:51
  • "It seems too good to be true." - what, to be released for two months without pay? For the employer it's a one-way bet. They can start advertising and interviewing candidates - if you decide to stay then great, and if you go then they've had time to set up a replacement, with no real cost in the meantime.
    – Steve
    Apr 23 at 18:09
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It's really completely normal - just go enjoy it.

When a company hires a new person, it usually costs them, overall, on the order of 2 to 6 months pay (often much more). The fact that they are giving you benefits for a couple months is nothing to them. A drop in the ocean.

They are doing nothing special or out of the ordinary. It's completely normal. Just say thanks and start your break.

Enjoy your break immediately. (Sometimes, as "soon as you have a break" you feel much better.)

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  • This is a helpful answer, and I appreciate that you’ve normalized this for me. However, I’ve been in the workforce for over a decade but haven’t encountered anything quite like this before. When you say it’s “normal” can you say more about what you mean? Assuming I take it, I intend to ask my manager and HR to keep my reasons for doing this very private — “Luna is out for personal reasons” if anyone asks — but I do worry about coworker resentment when my workload gets dumped on them.
    – user125570
    Apr 23 at 15:48
  • We routinely offer leaves of absence for people in this exact situation, good employees that are burning out for whatever reason. It's pretty simple, we hope they'll come back.
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 23 at 16:20
  • hi @Luna (1) normal means "commonplace". (2) it is utterly, utterly, utterly inconceivable they would "tell anyone" why you're on leave. note that ASKING THEM to keep it private would be ridiculous / rude! people go on leave all the time for no reason, it is a non-issue (3) your coworkers' life is not yours, leave them out of your headspace. nobody will care or likely even notice you're gone for awhile. leaves happen all the time, it's nothing. Best of luck
    – Fattie
    Apr 24 at 18:22
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The cons are more obvious whereas the gains are a bit vague. You're not sure if the job is the problem.

The most basic disadvantage is loss of revenue stream.

Other things can be good or bad, there's no way of knowing

Change of routine can solve problems or exacerbate them, especially stress ones.

Once you leave it will change your mindset, perhaps for the better, perhaps not.

If you can afford to do it and feel it will help, then absolutely put your health first. Just be aware that it has potential pitfalls as well, it's not a panacea.

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  • 1
    Super thankful that the loss of revenue is the least of my concerns — I realize that’s a massive privilege particularly in these difficult times. I think you’re spot on that the gains are vague for me. It’s hard to know what will help. If I knew for sure this would resolve things, I’d take the absence, no problem, and come back rested and energized and ready to return to being a high-performing employee. I just don’t know if that’ll be the result so it feels like stringing them along a bit.
    – user125570
    Apr 23 at 15:52
  • Stringing them on and you might make it worse, you'd be home with nothing to keep you occupied. Problem with mental crutches is like medicine, you can become addicted to them.
    – Kilisi
    Apr 25 at 7:15
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It is a great option not to lose benefits

One question, what is your location`s unemployment strategy?

Leave of absence does not mean unemployment. You need to come up with your own financial support

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  • No, this won’t make me eligible for unemployment. (I’m US-based.) I am fortunate enough that this isn’t a large concern — I was prepared to quit without a job lined up, and would be fine for a while. It would certainly be nice to retain my benefits, though, something I was also prepared to lose when I attempted to resign.
    – user125570
    Apr 23 at 15:55
  • if financial is not the main issue, go for it. Personal health is very important
    – Strader
    Apr 24 at 2:13
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"What if I come back from this absence only to actually quit?" Yes, of course they know this is a risk. Sounds like you have a relatively enlightened employer who wants to build long term symbiosis with the employees. This is not as common as it used to be, you're lucky.

Especially in the case of high stress family issues like difficult separation / divorce / child custody battles for instance, a leave of absence to focus on that is a very useful thing. A specific risk there is that it goes on longer than planned, but sometimes the early parts are the most debilitating in terms of reducing work productivity.

If the issue is more along the lines of medical, including serious issues of one's own, but also including a family member's terminal illness, you may in some US states (e.g. NY as of recently) be entitled to a leave with pay. Same for having kids. So check on that.

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