How do I refer to someone who is on temporary leave from their job? For example, we use acting for when someone is filling the role of said person (acting manager, etc.) or for someone who is filling a role temporarily.

  • In the U.S., simply saying someone is on temporary leave should be adequate, regardless of whether the reason is maternity/paternity, military duty, jury duty, illness, sabbatical, disciplinary suspension, or other "personal time."
    – choster
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:25

4 Answers 4


A word you could use for a temporary leave from a job is Sabbatical:

A period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

You would say something like: My Professor is on a sabbatical this year.

  • +1 I think hiatus would be an acceptable synonym, but I prefer your term.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 3:58

Hiatus immediately spring to mind (already suggested in comments by Lumberjack). It is a good, general purpose word to refer to a gap in an activity, such as work, hobby, etc.:

a break or interruption in an activity


You could say a person on a temporary leave is on hiatus.

The word is marked formal in Longman Dictionary, but bloggers and musicians often use it when they take a break from what they do.


The word is furlough, defined by the OED as:

a. Leave of absence, esp. a permit or licence given to a soldier (or more rarely, an official) to be absent from duty for a stated time.

It is not a word which is in regular currency. The more modern expression would be to say that the person was on leave of absence.

  • 2
    In the US, furlough is often used for a forced absence without pay when a company/agency is trying to save money.
    – bib
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 23:49
  • That sense is recorded by the OED in its list of draft additions 2015. U.S. An instance of suspending an employee from work temporarily, typically without pay.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 0:00

In the U.S. Military, a person is granted 4 weeks of "leave" a year and requests a "leave of absence" to be approved before going on "leave". When asked "Where is he?" The reply is "he's on leave".

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