You could ask for time off without pay from your employer, but be prepared to explain why. The company's answer might depend on the reason you want time off from work, even though at least one possible reason needn't be explained in great detail. If your request for time off has to do with a health- or medical-related matter, you're not obligated to disclose extensive details. When you talk to your manager or the HR manager about unpaid leave, be as honest and forthright as possible, but remember you are entitled to privacy concerning some personal and health-related reasons.
While you can certainly ask for time off without pay to extend your vacation time, it might be hard to justify why you need it. Unless you can show that you're the winner of an exclusive, 80-day trip around the world that anyone would be foolish not to accept, the chances might be slim that you'll get instant approval from your manager or the human resources department. If your employer permits you to extend vacation time, it would be setting a precedent that the company may not want to do.
During your interviews with the company, you obviously impressed the hiring manager with your capabilities. Therefore, you're obligated to follow through on those implied promises to contribute your talents and skills to the organization. Asking for time off without pay for a significant period could be detrimental to your career. If you're relatively new to the company, you haven't yet proven yourself as an exemplary worker, and your request for time off might give your employer pause about your work habits and ethics.
As of February 2012, 23 of CNN Money's "100 Best Companies to Work For" offered their employees fully paid sabbaticals. If you're going to ask your employer for an extensive period without pay, check first to see if the company offers this type of benefit. Many of the employers who offer sabbaticals may require several years of service before an employee can take one. So, if you've committed a good deal of time to the company, the chances of getting time off may be better than if you're a newbie.
Resign and Rehire
In the one-in-a-million chance that you're selected to be the star of ABC television's "The Bachelorette" or a contestant on "The Bachelor," you could ask for time off to participate in the show. Many of those contestants have jobs; however, word is that they may have jobs that aren't careers in which they are fully invested. If you have a career position, you can ask your employer for the time off or propose that you resign and return to the company at a mutually agreed-on date. There's no guarantee that your job will still be available upon your return, so you risk losing your status, seniority or employment, as well as vesting in a retirement plan.
If you have a serious health condition or need to care for a family member with one, you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The FMLA requires that certain employers provide workers with job-protected leave for conditions that are certified by a health-care provider. If you've been an employee for at least one year and during that time worked at least 1,250 hours, you could meet the eligibility criteria. You must provide your health-care provider's certification that you need to be off work, but under the federal law, your employer must restore you to the position you left or put you in a comparable job upon your return to work.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.