This is how the leave application form in our company looks like:

Name _______________ Designation _______________ Department _______________
Leave from _______________ to _______________ No. of Days _______________
Nature of Leave _______________ Reason ______________________________
Address while on leave _____________________________________________.
Buddy Name*: _______________. Buddy’s Signature: _______________.
Date _______________.

Signature of Applicant
(Approving Authority)

The 'reason' field is mandatory, but I do not feel comfortable filling it out as it isn't any of the company's business why I am taking my paid leave.

Why do companies force us to fill out this form, and how can I minimize sharing private details?

  • Hey Aquarius, and welcome back to The Workplace! I think you have the heart of a good question here, but it was a bit outside of the guidelines written in the help center because it was asking for reasoning on the company's part rather than a problem trying to be solved. I made an edit to it to try to bring it in line with the guidelines and get you better answers. If you think that I've missed something, or I mangled it, feel free to make an edit of your own. Thanks in advance! – jmac Apr 3 '14 at 6:43
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    I assumed as much, but then it wouldn't be a very good question for the site and would end up being closed. Basically, "I wonder why..." questions aren't a great fit for SE, and may be better asked in The Workplace Chat. If there isn't a way to verify what the 'right' answer is, it probably isn't a good fit here because it ends up as everyone sharing ideas/opinions which is good on a forum, not a Q&A site. – jmac Apr 3 '14 at 6:56
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    just put "holiday" or "time off"...? – Matt Apr 3 '14 at 8:17
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    This isn't related to the question at all, but what is a 'buddy', and why a signature from him or her? Is that the person covering for you, and the signature is so they know you'll be gone? – thursdaysgeek Apr 3 '14 at 16:12
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    @thursdaysgeek "Buddy" will be my peer who will be responsible for taking care of my work when I am gone. – Aquarius_Girl Mar 8 '16 at 7:17

It's not your employer's business if you're going to hospital for the day to get your extremely embarrassing medical complaint fixed, no. However, it is certainly the company's business if you're off sick.

Employee absence is usually a company's largest client. It's factored into all calculations so the fact that more hours are spent on absence than anything else doesn't matter particularly. What does matter is the reasons for this absence.

  • If, for example, this is the 20th time that Employee A (Bob) has called in sick this year then it's something that a decent company will look into. Not to punish Bob but to ensure that he's not overworked or to see if there's anything the company can do to help. Depending on the country you're in there may be statutory sick pay after a length of time off, which means that your salary will be accounted differently.

  • If you're on maternity or paternity leave you may get some statutory pay from the government/your employer which needs to double checked and applied for by payroll. Maybe the company won't have to pay any tax on your salary.

  • If you're on annual leave the amount of days you have remaining need to be calculated.

  • If you're asking for bereavement leave a larger company will normally have a maximum amount you're allowed to take in any one year. Whilst this may be flexible the amount remaining will still be tracked.

  • If you're volunteering somewhere, your company may have a specific amount of days that you're allowed to do this for. In the UK, this means (I think), that the company can write off a portion of the work done against tax.

  • etc.

Simply put, the reason is not about you specifically but about HR and payroll (and the tax man) keeping on top of the varying methods of payments that make up your salary and the government's take of that. Or, keeping track of the amount of allotted days you have remaining for activity X.

There's no need to go into details of why you're taking sick leave, or annual leave. Just to state that you are - that's all the information needed in order to process your leave in the specific manner dictated by the type of leave requested.

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    Hi Ben, this is a really good answer, especially as a first post. Welcome to the site! – user5305 Apr 3 '14 at 11:22
  • Any decent company could easily have you fill out different forms or simply check of from a list of options for how payroll needs to account for it. – nhgrif Jul 26 '15 at 19:34
  • Not sure what your point is @nhgrif; this is that form... Plus a tiny bit extra to aid contact in an emergency. – Ben Jul 26 '15 at 20:11
  • Where I work, you don't fill out a paper form, but rather do this sort of thing online. And as such, the button for requesting PTO (for vacation) is different from the button for requesting, say, bereavement. And there doesn't have to be a question "Nature of leave? Reason?" etc., that employees are confused about how to answer and why the company is prying into personal business of mine, etc. – nhgrif Jul 26 '15 at 20:28
  • The nature of leave and the reason is bereavement in this case @nhgrif. Your employer is asking you exactly the same questions, just in a different format. – Ben Jul 26 '15 at 20:36

This probably isn't intended to get into the personal reasons for why you are taking your vacation. It's probably intended to be used for all kinds of leave, including possibly parental leave, bereavement, compassionate, lieu time, jury duty, illness. 'Reason' is probably there to supply more details where necessary.

I recommend filling in type is "vacation" and reason as "vacation" or "personal". They probably aren't expecting more details.

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