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13 Types of Leave Offered By Companies in India

By: | March 15, 2022 27 min read

leave types in india

The post pandemic era of work and employment has witnessed a significant transition, the differentiator is no longer a competitive pay package, but additional benefits offered.

80% of employees prefer to work at an organization that has a well-defined leave policy and chose it over a higher paycheck.

What are Leaves? 

Leaves can be defined as “a paid or unpaid form of absence from the workplace, for a variety of reasons like ill health, recreational vacations, or personal emergency.”

The leave policy of an organization impacts many important aspects like,

  • Attracting and retaining the top talent
  • Boosting employee productivity and morale
  • Mental and physical well-being of employees
  • Promoting a positive workplace culture

Understanding the Indian landscape of leave policies helps HR professionals design comprehensive employee benefits packages and gain the competitive advantage.

Leave Types in India 

types of leaves in india

Companies offer different leaves to support their employees’ needs. Whether having a holiday to relax and unwind or staying home when sick, these leaves provide the necessary flexibility. Moreover, it’s worth noting that the specific provisions and duration of different types of leave may vary depending on the industry, company policies, and applicable labor laws. 

The following leaves are offered by organizations in India:

  1. Casual leave
  2. Sick leave / Medical leave
  3. Privilege leave
  4. Maternity leave
  5. Paternity leave
  6. Bereavement leave
  7. Compassionate leave
  8. Compensatory leave
  9. Floater leave
  10. Marriage leave
  11. Sabbatical leave
  12. Unpaid leave (LWP/LOP)
  13. Adoption leave

1. Casual leave

Casual leave refers to short-term leave granted to employees for unplanned or unforeseen circumstances that require their absence from work. It is usually a small number of days that can be taken without prior notice or a specific reason. Casual leave allows employees to address personal matters, attend appointments, handle emergencies, or take care of unexpected situations without utilizing other types of leave, such as vacation or sick leave.

Purpose: To provide employees with a short-term, unplanned absence from work to address unforeseen personal matters or emergencies.

Imagine the scenario: An employee receives a last-minute invitation to attend a close friend’s wedding ceremony in another city. By taking a casual leave, the employee can participate in joyous occasions and support his friend during this special milestone without compromising his work commitments.

2. Sick leave / Medical leave  

Sick leave, also known as medical leave or illness leave, is a type of authorized absence from work that allows employees to take time off when they are unwell or unable to perform their job duties due to their illness, injury, or medical condition. This leave type may require documentation such as medical certificates or doctor’s notes. 

Purpose: To provide employees with time off to recover from illness, injury, or medical conditions, ensuring their well-being and preventing the spreading of contagious diseases in the workplace

Picture this: An employee wakes up one morning feeling feverish and with flu-like symptoms. Recognizing the need to rest and recover, he informed his supervisor and HR about his illness and requested sick leave for the day to avoid coming to work and potentially spreading the illness to their coworkers.

3. Privilege leave  

Privilege Leave, also known as Earned Leave or Annual Leave, is a form of paid time off that employees are entitled to after completing a certain period of service with an organization. The specific terms and conditions of this leave type are typically outlined in an employee’s employment contract or company policy.

Purpose: To provide employees with a break from work to rest, rejuvenate, and attend to personal or family-related matters.

Picture this: An employee has been working diligently for several months, consistently meeting his targets and demonstrating exceptional performance. He plans to opt for paid time off to take a rejuvenating vacation, recharge energy, and spend quality time with his loved ones, and return to work refreshed and motivated.

4. Maternity leave

Maternity leave in India refers to the leave granted to a female employee who is expecting a child or has recently given birth. It is a legally mandated benefit provided by the government to protect the rights of working women and promote their well-being during pregnancy and childbirth.

According to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, as amended in 2017, female employees in India are entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks (or 182 days) of maternity leave. This leave can be given by the employee before and after childbirth, as per her preference. However, for women who have already had two or more children, the entitlement is reduced to 12 weeks (or 84 days) of maternity leave.

Purpose: To provide female employees with time off to recover from childbirth, bond with their newborn, and support their physical and emotional well-being during the postpartum period.

Imagine this: An employee is expecting a baby and is nearing the end of their pregnancy. With the due date approaching, she notifies her supervisor about the upcoming maternity leave, ensuring the employee’s well-being during this significant life event and allows them to transition smoothly into the role of a new parent.

5. Paternity leave 

Paternity leave is a type of leave granted to fathers or partners to take time off from work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. It allows them to bond with their child and support their partner during the early stages of parenting. The duration and benefits of paternity leave can vary, but it recognizes the importance of fatherly involvement in childcare and promotes family well-being.

Purpose: To provide fathers or partners time off to bond with their newborn, participate in caregiving responsibilities, and promote gender equality in parenting roles.

Picture this: An employee’s partner has given birth to their first child. Understanding the importance of being actively involved in the early stages of their child’s life, the employee notifies their HR and supervisor about his intention to take paternity leave. Helping establish gender equality in parental roles and create lasting memories with the newborn.

6. Bereavement leave

Bereavement leave, also known as compassionate or grief leave, is granted to employees who have experienced the loss of a close family member or loved one. It gives them time off from work to grieve, attend funerals or memorial services, and handle necessary arrangements. The duration and specific conditions for bereavement leave may vary between employers.

Purpose: To provide support and allow individuals to cope with the emotional impact of a significant loss.

Picture this: An employee receives the devastating news of the sudden passing of a close family member. The employee recognizes the need for time to grieve and attend the funeral arrangements, so the employee contacts the supervisor to request bereavement leave.

 7. Compassionate leave 

Compassionate leave is a type of leave granted to employees who need time off from work to deal with a personal or family crisis, such as the serious illness or death of a loved one. It provides individuals with the opportunity to attend to urgent matters, seek emotional support, and manage the practical aspects related to the situation. The specific conditions and duration of compassionate leave can vary between employers.

Purpose: To offer support and understanding during difficult times.

Picture this: An employee receives news that her close friend is facing a terminal illness and has entered the final stages. Understanding the emotional impact and the need to provide support during this challenging time, the employee contacts her supervisor to request compassionate leave.

8. Compensatory leave 

Compensatory leave, also known as time-off in lieu (TOIL), is a type of leave granted to employees to compensate for working additional hours beyond their regular schedule. Instead of receiving overtime pay, employees accumulate compensatory leave that can be used to take time off from work at a later date.

Purpose: To provide employees with flexibility and the opportunity to balance their work and personal life while being compensated for extra time worked.

Picture this: An employee has been working diligently on a critical project that requires additional hours beyond his normal work schedule. In recognition of their hard work, the supervisor grants the employee compensatory leave, allowing them to take time off in the future to balance their workload and maintain work-life harmony.

9. Floater leave 

Floater leaves, also known as a floating holiday or discretionary leave, allow employees to take time off from work for personal or religious reasons. Unlike specific types of leave, such as vacation or sick leave, floater leave is typically more flexible and can be used at the employee’s discretion. The policies regarding floater leave, including the number of days granted and any restrictions, may vary between employers.

Purpose: To accommodate individual preferences and promote a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Picture this: One employee decides to utilize his floater holiday to celebrate Eid, which is significant for his religion. This allows organizations to promote a diverse and inclusive work environment that respects and accommodates different cultural or personal observances.

10. Marriage leave 

Marriage leave refers to the authorized time off granted to an employee by their employer to attend their own wedding or the wedding of an immediate family member. It allows employees to take time off from work to participate in pre-wedding ceremonies, the wedding itself, and any post-wedding rituals or events and the exact duration of this leave type is dependent on the organizational policies.

Purpose: To support employees during this significant life event and enable them to focus on their wedding arrangements without the stress of work obligations.

Picture this: An employee is getting married and has planned a wedding ceremony and festivities. Understanding the importance of this milestone event, he discusses the duration and any necessary documentation with his manager, ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities during their absence.

11. Sabbatical leave 

Sabbatical leave refers to an extended period of time off granted to employees, usually after a specific number of years of service, during which they can take a break from their regular work responsibilities. It provides employees with professional and personal development opportunities, such as pursuing further education, engaging in research, or exploring personal interests and rejuvenation. It is pre-planned leave and can be either fully paid, partially paid, or unpaid.

Purpose: To encourage continuous learning and foster long-term retention and satisfaction within the organization.

Let’s imagine this: An employee has been with the company for several years and has successfully completed a major project. As part of the organization’s policy, he decides to take a sabbatical leave to pursue personal interests, further his education, or engage in self-reflection and personal development. This leave type encourages employee satisfaction and long-term retention within the organization.

12.Unpaid leave (LWP/LOP)

LOP/LWP stands for Loss of Pay/Leave Without Pay. It refers to a type of leave that an employee can take when they exhaust their available paid leave balance and need to take additional time off from work. This means that the employee will be absent from work without pay, and their salary will be proportionately reduced for the period of their absence

Purpose: To allow employees to take time off from work for personal reasons when paid leave options are not available, enabling flexibility while acknowledging the absence of regular salary or wages during that period.

Imagine this: An employee finds himself facing a unique circumstance that requires an extended absence from work, but he has exhausted all the available paid leave options. Understanding the circumstances, the supervisor/HR grants the employee unpaid leave, acknowledging the absence of regular salary or wages during that period.

13. Adoption leaves

Adoption leave in India refers to the time off granted to employees who adopt a child. It is a type of leave provided by employers to allow adoptive parents to bond with their newly adopted child and fulfill their responsibilities as parents. According to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, a female employee who adopts a child under the age of three months is eligible for 12 weeks of maternity leave, which includes both pre-adoption and post-adoption periods. This leave can be availed before or after the adoption takes place.

Purpose: Adoption leave is designed to provide support and recognition to adoptive parents, like maternity or paternity leave.

Imagine this: After months of anticipation, an employee and his partner have decided to adopt a child. After completing the necessary adoption process, he informed management about his plans to take adoption leave. Allowing the employee to devote their time to welcoming the child and bonding with them.

Types of Leave as Per Different Labour Law in India 

Types of Leave as Per Different Labour Laws in India
ActType of LeaveEntitlementNumber of Leaves
Factories Act, 1948Casual Leave1 day per 20 days workedMaximum 12 days per year
Factories Act, 1948Sick Leave1 day per 10 days workedMaximum 14 days per year
Shops and Establishments Act (State-specific)Earned LeaveVaries by state and length of serviceTypically ranges from 12 to 24 days per year
Maternity Benefit Act, 1961Maternity LeaveUp to 26 weeks (including prenatal and postnatal)Varies by the stage of pregnancy and medical conditions
Paternity Benefit Act, 2017Paternity LeaveUp to 15 daysTypically, allowed once during the pregnancy or within a specific period after childbirth
Company policiesBereavement LeaveVaries by company policyTypically, 3 to 5 days
Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (National Holidays)Public HolidaysAs per the national and state-specific public holiday listVaries by state and festival
Company policiesSpecial LeaveVaries by company policyDependent on the nature of the special circumstances

Why does the company need a leave policy? 

Imagine a company without a leave policy—it would be like navigating without a map. A leave policy serves as a guide, ensuring that time off is managed efficiently and fairly for all employees. It brings clarity and structure to taking leaves and sets the foundation for a harmonious work environment.

Let’s explore the reasons why every company needs a well-designed leave policy.

From ensuring fairness and consistency to promoting employee well-being, workforce management, legal compliance, and fostering engagement, a leave policy plays a vital role in shaping the employee experience.

Think of a leave policy as a tool that allows employees to take necessary breaks, recharge their batteries, and attend to personal matters. It’s a way for companies to show they care about their employees’ physical and mental health, creating a supportive work environment.

Companies can efficiently plan and manage their workforce by implementing a leave policy. They gain insights into employee availability, enabling them to distribute work responsibilities effectively, ensure productivity, and minimize disruptions caused by unplanned absences.

Compliance with laws and regulations is another crucial aspect of having a leave policy. It ensures the company adheres to legal requirements regarding leave entitlements, such as sick, maternity, and annual leave. This protects both the company and its employees, preventing any legal complications.

A well-crafted leave policy also contributes to employee engagement and retention. Employees who feel valued and supported through fair leave provisions will likely remain committed to the company. It fosters a positive work culture and enhances overall job satisfaction.

What to include in a company leave policy?

leave policy components

Designing a comprehensive leave policy is crucial for companies to establish clear guidelines and ensure consistency in managing employee time off.

Let’s explore the key elements that should be included in a company leave policy:

  • Types of Leave: Define the company’s various kinds of leave. This may include annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, bereavement leave, sabbatical leave, and other relevant categories specific to your organization.
  • Leave Eligibility: Specify the criteria determining an employee’s eligibility for different types of leave. This may include factors such as length of service, probationary periods, or any specific requirements for certain types of leave.
  • Leave Entitlement: Clearly state the number of days or hours an employee is entitled to for each type of leave. For instance, mention the annual leave entitlement per year, maximum consecutive days for sick leave, and any special considerations for extended leave.
  • Leave Request Procedure: Outline the process for employees to request leave, including the preferred method of submission, the timeline for submitting requests, and any necessary documentation or forms to be filled out.
  • Approval Process: Define how leave requests will be reviewed and approved. Specify the authority responsible for granting approvals and any considerations affecting the approval decision, such as operational requirements or team availability.
  • Leave Cancellation or Modification: Establish guidelines for canceling or modifying approved leave requests. Define the notice period required for such changes and any limitations or conditions for altering pre-approved leaves.
  • Leave Carryover and Expiry: Address whether employees can carry forward unused leave days to the following year, up to what limit, and any leave expiry or loss conditions if not utilized within a specified time frame.
  • Public Holidays: Clarify the company’s policy regarding public holidays. State whether these holidays are considered part of an employee’s annual leave entitlement or are separate from it.
  • Reporting During Leave: Specify the expectations for employees while on leave, such as whether they need to be reachable in case of emergencies or if they are required to provide periodic updates on their availability or well-being.
  • Leave Records: Explain the procedures for maintaining accurate leave records, including the documentation and systems used for tracking and recording employees’ leave balances, approved leaves, and leave history.
  • Communication and Awareness: Emphasize the importance of clear communication regarding the leave policy. Ensure that employees know the procedure, its updates (if any), and where they can access the document.
  • Legal Compliance: Align the leave policy with relevant labor laws and regulations applicable in your jurisdiction. Ensure that the policy adheres to the minimum requirements mandated by law, such as maternity or paternity leave entitlements.
  • Additional Benefits: If your company offers any other leave-related benefits, such as time off for volunteering or personal development, clearly outline these benefits and their specific terms and conditions.
  • Review and Updates: Highlight that the leave policy will be periodically reviewed and revised to adapt to changing organizational needs and comply with any updated legal requirements.

How can leave management software keep track of employee leave types? 

Leave management software simplifies tracking the types of leave for employees through its intuitive features. It categorizes different kinds of leave, such as holidays, sick leave, and parental leave, ensuring accurate record-keeping. The software allows employees to submit leave requests digitally, which are automatically recorded and tracked.

It provides managers with a centralized dashboard to monitor leave balances and approvals. The software ensures efficient leave management with automated notifications and real-time updates, minimizing errors and promoting transparency.

Automate your company’s leave management system with Keka

Keka’s intuitive interface allows employees to effortlessly request leaves while managers can seamlessly review and approve them. With real-time updates and a centralized dashboard, employees can easily track leave balances, analyze trends, and generate insightful reports. Keka’s automated notifications ensure timely communication, reducing confusion and enhancing transparency.

Experience the power of automation with Keka and unlock a new level of productivity and convenience in managing your company’s leave system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Can casual leave be carried forward to the next year?

Typically, casual leave is not carried forward to the following year. It is designed to be utilized within a specific time frame, usually within the same calendar year. Any unused casual leave at the end of the year is usually forfeited, and fresh leave entitlement starts the following year.

2. How does sick leave accrual work in India?

The accrual and utilization of sick leave may vary across organizations. In general, sick leave may accrue over time, typically pro-rata, depending on the length of service. The company’s leave policy or employment contract typically outlines specific policies regarding sick leave accrual and utilization.

3. Do different types of leaves have different approval processes?

Yes, different types of leave may have different approval processes. While some types of leave may require only supervisor approval, others, like maternity or sabbatical leave, might involve higher-level approvals or require additional documentation.

4. What happens if an employee exhausts all their leave entitlements?

If an employee exhausts all their leave entitlements, it depends on the company’s policies. In such cases, additional leave may be granted as unpaid leave, or the employee may have the option to avail themselves of other types of leave, subject to approval and availability.


Table of Contents

    Meet the author

    Anwesha Panja

    Content Writer

    Anwesha Panja is a Content Writer at Keka Technologies. She has a passion for crafting captivating pieces around the latest HR trends. With a love for mysterious and spine-tingling things, she spends her free time exploring haunted locations. She is also a bookworm and an avid Sherlock fan.


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