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14 Tips When Asking for Time Off

14 Tips When Asking for Time Off


Okay, so summer is basically here, and you know what that means: Time to cash in your hard-earned vacation time! But what's the best way to ask for time off? Here are 14 tips to help you out!


Check your company's vacation policy and familiarize yourself with how your company handles time off. Check your allotted vacation days, how and when they accrue, and if they roll over from year to year. 

More importantly, get a feel of how vacation time is perceived in your company. Do your coworkers stretch out their days throughout the year, or is it really okay to plan a three-week European trip? Knowing the rules -- both formal and informal -- will help assure your request won't be frowned upon. 


Get to know what's going on in your company, whether a new product launch is right around the corner or a meeting with an important client is going to be held, and avoid taking time off during those peak times. 

Instead, wait until the culture and mood of the office is a little more relaxed. Chances are, your boss will be more receptive and more likely to give you permission. 


How your boss responds to your request often has to do with what else is on his or her plate. Generally, it's not a good idea to bring up your two weeks in Cabo when your boss is in a bad mood or coming off a day of back-to-back meetings.

Instead, plan your time off request when your boss will be more receptive. Be considerate and find a time when your boss will be in the right frame of mind. Avoid stressful times of the day, week, or month. 


No matter how good that vacation deal you just spotted online seems, it's never a good idea to book travel without clearing it with your employer first. Requests for time off should be just that: a request and not a demand. 


Don't be afraid to give a reason for your time off, if it's not too personal. The possibility of your boss approving your request increases when you give a legitimate reason. 


Don't drop your request on your unsuspecting boss a week before you'd like to leave. The more notice you can give when requesting time off, the better. And the more likely you are to get permission, too! Don't forget to send your boss a calendar invite for the days you've requested off, or add your vacation days to the team's shared calendar.


No matter how comfortable you are with your boss, asking for vacation in a casual conversation is *not* the way to go.

Instead, send your request in an email to your boss with a copy to anyone else at your company who should be aware of your request. Remember to follow up with your boss one to two weeks before your tip to remind them you'll be out of the office soon. That way, you'll be able to solidify the plan for your absence. 


The most important consideration for your boss when granting time off is checking your team can still run effectively. Check any vacation or holiday schedules and talk to your teammates about any time off they're planning to take. Find dates that work without leaving the team shorthanded. 


Create a plan for when you're out of the office. It shows you're proactive, responsible, and respect the rest of your team. 

Figure out how to delegate your responsibilities while you're away, and explain that plan in your time off request. For example, you can say, "Charlie and Liam will be here the week I'll be gone and have agreed to take any calls from my clients."


Put in some extra hours and work a little harder in the weeks leading up to your vacation to get ahead of your workload and make sure your area of responsibility is under control. This will make things easier for your team. Plus it ensures you're not coming back to a massive backlog of work!


When you're asking for time off, let your manager know exactly where you are with all your work. Give them a status update and inform them of any questions or possible concerns or issues in your absence. 


Make sure your bosses don't get any complaints while you are gone. Send an email to anyone who will be impacted by you not being in the office. Let them know when you'll be away and tell them who they need to contact in your absence.


Before you take your vacation, don't forget to set your Out of Office email. Let people know who they should contact in your absence and when you'll be returning to work.


Let your boss know how grateful you are for the time off formally in an email. It doesn't hurt to stay in your boss's good graces!

  • If you're the new kid in the office: 

If you’re new to your job, asking for vacation can be challenging. If you can help it, try to avoid asking for time off during your first three months at a new job. 

If you have to ask for time off, consider negotiating your time off. Offer to make up the time you'll miss. You want to make an excellent first impression, and requesting time off shortly after starting isn't ideal. Be open and honest about why you need the time, and be clear with your employer that you will make up hours and have any outstanding items in. 

  • If your request is an emergency: 

Emergencies, by definition, are unexpected. For things like doctors visits, accidents, and deaths in the family, there is only one thing to remember when it comes to communicating your ask for time off: tell the truth. Employers tend to be more reasonable when employees are truthful. 

If you're sick, or must stay home to take care of a sick family member, ask your manager if there are any tasks you can finish at home. There may not be anything for you to do, but at least you asked. 

  • If you work remotely:

If you're a remote employee, taking time off may feel awkward. But just because you don't work in the office doesn't mean you're not entitled to your days off. Don't be afraid to ask! Just remember to read up on your company's vacation policies and communicate your work status to your manager. 

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