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Global Work Glossary

Lost in a maze of global employment jargon? Find your way out with our handy collection of work and HR terminology

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Unpaid time off

What is unpaid time off?

Unpaid time off (UTO) is time away from work that’s not compensated by an employer. It’s most commonly used for personal reasons such as vacations, family events, or medical situations.

Specific unpaid time off policies vary from company to company. Employees can usually take paid time off in the case of illness, vacation, or personal emergencies, while unpaid time off is saved for special circumstances like extended personal leave or ongoing medical issues.

Unpaid time off may be for either a short or extended period of time. Employers usually outline the number of hours employees may take as paid leave off throughout the year; anything outside of this must be requested as unpaid time off.

Across countries and throughout the United States, it’s not obligatory for companies to offer unpaid time off. It can, however, be a compelling part of a modern benefits package. By providing this flexibility to employees, companies can also avoid absenteeism and boost morale among teams.

When dealing with unpaid time off, organizations have to be careful to stick to legal requirements. In the US, for example, they must look to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For support with managing UTO and other benefits, organizations should look to a specialized HR solution such as Multiplier.

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