Short term leave refers to a leave of absence from work for a time period generally no longer than two to three months. The exact amount of time taken and how companies define short term is variable, and some companies define it as taking time off for illness or vacation. Usually, a distinction is made between a leave of absence and normal brief vacations or illness breaks. Leave more often refers taking an unpaid leave of absence.
In some countries, legislation protects a person’s right to take a leave and retain a job, under certain types of circumstances. Those taking leave after the birth or adoption of a child will often have their job protected, provided the leave doesn’t extend past the point defined by the law. In most cases when a mother or a father takes this form of leave, they do so without getting any kind of pay, unless they have accrued vacation or sick time. A few countries have generous maternity benefits and may provide paid short term leave, but these are the exception. Most new moms or dads must determine how much leave they can afford to take.
Legislation might protect people’s jobs during a short-term leave under other defined circumstances. These could include if a person faces a serious illness or if a close family member like a parent, spouse, or child is seriously ill. Some companies would grant such leave regardless of any country laws, but some countries have found that legislating the matter is beneficial to employees, who can’t always depend on employers to generously grant leave.
Sometimes a short term leave is taken for professional gain. A person might have an opportunity to take a class, participate in a brief research project, or travel somewhere that enhances their professional qualities. In this case, especially in the university system, a short term leave might be called a sabbatical. Sabbaticals can be of longer duration, lasting for a year or more, but occasionally a professor only takes leave for a quarter or semester, which may be considered short term. Whether or not a professor would get paid or have rights to retain her job would be a matter of the terms of their employment.
Some people must take a short term leave that isn’t for professional gain and doesn’t qualify for any form of job protection. In these circumstances, it’s still advisable to speak to an employer to see if any accommodation can be made to protect a job. It does cost money to hire and train new employees and if a job doesn’t have to be filled in an employee’s absence or is easily filled by a temporary employee, employers may be interested in retaining the worker despite the need for a leave. When this is not possible, being upfront and open about taking leave is still advised, since it’s possible an employer will rehire the employee when she returns or at least positively recommend that employee to other employers.