12 Best Practices: How to Ask For Time Off

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 by Time Off Cloud

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Asking for time off from work can be stressful. It may be difficult to predict how your manager will respond. Plus, there’s always a chance they will deny your request. However, everyone needs time off from work for a healthy work-life balance. It’s important to advocate for yourself while also being open to compromise. Read on to learn more.

1. Be Confident in Your Request

Before requesting to use your paid time off (PTO), it’s best to be certain about what dates you want to take off. You should also prepare to offer a reason for your request. This will provide context for your manager and enable them to plan coverage.

2. Be Specific About the Reason for Your Request

If you say that you need “time off,” your employer may not understand the urgency of your request. However, if you do choose to offer a reason, your employer is more likely to be understanding. Your PTO is yours to use as you choose, so you do not need to justify it. Providing some detail will help your manager keep things running smoothly.

3. Be Flexible With Timing if Possible

Asking for time off when the company is busy is more likely to result in a negative response. Instead, if you can, try to request time off during a slow period. This will show that you are considerate of the company’s needs. Time off requests are always best made in advance, so be sure to give your employer as much notice as possible.

4. Work Extra Hours For Compensation

Taking time off may mean your company needs some extra help to cover your work. Be prepared to compromise. If you know you have a big project coming up, try to schedule your time off request around it. That way, your boss knows that you’re still committed to your work. If you can’t avoid taking time off during a busy period, offer to make up hours either before or after. A little bit of give and take goes a long way and will show your manager you are a team player.

5. Request Time Off in Writing

It’s best to request to use your PTO in writing. A written request ensures that your employer knows exactly what you’re asking for. It also provides a record of your request should there be any confusion later on. Include whether your dates are flexible or not. Consider formatting your request in a similar way to the following:

Subject: Request for Time Off


I am writing to request time off from work. I am hoping to take two weeks off, from [DATE] to [DATE]. Please let me know if this will be possible. I am more than willing to take on extra hours to ensure my work is covered.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Your name

6. Defer to Managerial Discretion

A study found that managers often use discretionary time off (DTO) to reward employees for good work. This refers to the practice of not assigning a specific number of days off per year, but rather, allowing employees to request time off flexibly. It is up to your manager to determine whether it is possible for you to take time off depending on any number of factors. In other words, if you’ve been putting in extra hours or going above and beyond, your manager is more likely to approve your request. If your company has structured time off this way, have a conversation with your manager. Work with them to determine the best times of year for time off requests.

7. Make Sure You Ask, Not Inform

While it is your right to take time off from work, the more flexible and compromising you can be, the better. Instead of telling them what you’re going to do, try asking them what they need from you. For example, “I was hoping to take next Friday off. Is there anything I can do to help lighten your load this week?” By framing it as a question, you’re giving them the opportunity to say no if they really need you around. But if they’re okay with you taking a day or two, they’ll be more likely to approve your request. This also gives them the opportunity to let you know if they need a little extra help.

8. Assist in Planning Your Workload

The key is to plan ahead and make sure that your time off won’t disrupt your company’s workflow too much. Start by talking to your supervisor and getting an idea of their availability. Then, take a look at the upcoming workload and see if there are any projects that can be postponed or delegated. Once you have a plan in place, submit your request in writing with as much notice as possible. If your workload is covered, your manager is more likely to grant your time off request.

9. Be Prepared For the Possibility of Disappointment

Unfortunately, there’s always a chance that your request will be denied. It’s important to be prepared for this possibility. If this happens, try not to take it personally. There may be valid reasons why your boss can’t accommodate your request right now. It’s important to be as understanding as possible. Be prepared to request a different date or dates for your time off if possible.

10. Be Fair With Your Colleagues

If possible, consult with your colleagues about taking time off. This is especially important if you are planning on taking more than a day or two. Being down a team member can affect the entire staff and make things a bit more difficult for everyone. While everyone is entitled to time off, if you can, it’s a good idea to check with those that depend on you at work. A colleague may have already requested the same dates off, and one of you may have more flexibility. Remember to work as a team towards a positive outcome for everyone involved.

11. Inform Everyone Who Needs to Know

Once your time off request is approved, make sure to inform every member of your team. Give as much advance notice as possible so that things will continue to run smoothly in your absence.

12. Track Your Time Efficiently and Accurately

It is critical to keep track of your time off with the best PTO tracking software you can find for your business. As an employee, you want to be aware of how much time off you have left to use. Different organizations manage time off in different ways. If you haven’t used your PTO in a long time, it may have added up and rolled into the next year over time. If your company doesn’t already use an advanced, accurate PTO tracking program like Time Off Cloud, consider asking your HR representative about this.

In Conclusion

Taking time off is essential for all employees. Maintaining a good work-life balance not only makes you a better worker, but also promotes better mental health and wellness. But, it is important to try to compromise with your team and managers. Approach requesting time off with flexibility, respect, and efficient communication.

Are you ready? Give it a try, today!