Career Advice

How To Ask For Time Off

By: Mariah Rogers
Feb 4, 2021 • 6 min read

How To Ask For Time Off – A Guide to Effective Workplace Communication.

Asking for time off can almost feel shameful, but this shouldn’t be the case! Everyone deserves a well-earned break every now and then. Aside from holidays that your company grants time off for, taking a personal week once or twice a year is important so that you can recharge and spend time with your loved ones. So, how do you ask your boss for time off to enjoy your tropical vacation away from the office? Here are a few tips to help guide you.

brown glass bottle beside white book on blue and white textile

Ask For Time Off as Early as Possible

A general rule of thumb is to ask your boss about two weeks in advance of your scheduled vacation. However, the sooner you let them know of your planned absence, the better! We recommend notifying your boss as soon as you book those plane tickets and then following up a few weeks before your vacation to give everyone in the office a reminder.

While it might seem unnecessary to let your boss know about your vacation so far in advance, you are actually doing them a huge favor! When someone from the team is going to be out of the office, it can negatively affect other employees if management has not implemented a plan. Even though you’ll be sunning yourself on a beach, the show must go on! Other employees will have to pick up the slack and complete projects on your behalf. In order for everything to go smoothly, both management and employees must prepare to compensate for your absence to make sure all deadlines are met accordingly.

So, whenever you feel as though it’s a little too far in advance to ask for time off, remember that you are simply giving your entire team enough advance warning to craft a plan! Part of being a team player is practicing effective communication. Be open and honest with your employer and colleagues about taking time off – they should be excited for you!

Use an Email to Notify Your Management Team

Sending an email to notify your management team about taking time off is crucial. It is normal to take vacation days, so no need to make a huge deal about it! Employers want their team members to be well-rested and to avoid burnout in order to be as productive as possible in the workplace. Enjoying some time off will help you balance your work and personal life, as well as help you feel refreshed when you return to the office in a few days.

When crafting your email, it is important to be as specific as possible. Before sending the email to your boss, be sure that you have all of your travel details outlined and solidified. You’ll need these details when putting together the perfect time off request email!

Email template:

Subject Line: Time Off Request

Hi (Manager’s Name Here),

I am writing to notify you of my planned vacation from 2/10-2/14. I’ll be traveling with my family to celebrate my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary! I’ve already communicated with the team to ensure there are no major projects due during the week of my absence. I will also be collaborating with my immediate group to complete any deadlines I am responsible for before I leave for my week of vacation.

If you would like to have an in-person meeting this week to discuss the details of my absence, I would be happy to schedule a time for us to chat! I am committed to helping my team succeed despite my leave, and I appreciate your understanding and support!

Thank you,

(Your name here)

how to ask for time off

Ensure That You Are Not Leaving During an Important Week

Every week is important at work! However, when planning your leave, be sure to schedule your absence during a time that is not your company’s busiest week of the year. Try to avoid leaving during a big project, before a stressful deadline, or during employee review week. Trust your gut and use your best instincts to decide if it is an appropriate week to request time off. Keep the stress-levels and success of your colleagues in-mind when planning your vacation. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes! If a teammate decided to jump ship moments before an important project deadline, it likely would not reflect well on this individual employee. Be a good team player and keep others in mind when requesting time-off.

Important events to look out for:

  • Major deadlines either due the week you are away or the week after.
  • Important corporate guests attending a conference or meeting.
  • A company-wide presentation that you are involved in.
  • Planning stage of a project that requires your input.
  • Employee evaluation week.
  • Any monumental day for the company as a whole.

Put in Extra Hours Before You Leave

Even if you are not requesting time off during a busy time of year for your company, be sure to tie off any loose ends prior to jumping on your flight. This can be tricky for sure! It can be difficult to focus on anything before a big vacation other than what you need to pack and how early you must leave for the airport. However, making sure that everything is in place before your departure will eliminate the risk of you receiving an emergency call from the office while you’re soaking up the sun! Do yourself and your coworkers a favor by putting in extra hours before you leave for your trip.

how to ask for time off

Communicate With Coworkers

Communicating with coworkers is an important aspect of being a team player in the workplace. Prior to leaving for your vacation or taking time off to recharge from office life, make sure to be open with coworkers about your plans. Not only will this help you foster a stronger and more trusting relationship with your colleagues, but they will be able to continue moving the team in a successful direction while you are gone. Before leaving, make sure to communicate with your coworkers about your travel plans, expected internet access while on the trip, and availability in case of an emergency.

Be sure to also give your phone number to all members of your team before you depart, if you haven’t already done so. This way, they can contact you in case of a work-related emergency or send urgent updates if needed. Try to stress that you should only be contacted in extreme circumstances! This is your time to enjoy a restful break.

Email template to coworkers:

Hi team,

I just wanted to communicate my plans to take a week of vacation from 10/4-10/10 in order to travel for my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. I have been granted permission by management to take this time off and wanted to start working on a plan to ensure the team’s success while I am away. Our calendar did not indicate that the week of my absence will be overly hectic, as no deadlines are listed and no projects are due.

I am committed to completing all work before my departure and wanted to include my personal cell phone number in this email in case you need to contact me with an emergency while I am away!

Phone number: (xxx) xxx-xxx


(Your name here)

Be Ready For Rebuttal

Depending on your company’s policy, you might not be granted the time off that you requested. This can be for many reasons, but more often than not, you may have chosen a time when the company will be in preparation mode for a large-scale event. Be prepared to negotiate with your management team or find a different week to enjoy your vacation. Remember that you are part of a team and that your work is valued! If your manager or boss believes your presence is essential, they may offer a rebuttal to your time off request. If this is the case, you’ll need to make a well-informed decision that is best for you personally.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I reschedule the trip?
  • How important is my presence at the work event noted?
  • Is there someone else who can fill in for me?
  • Is there a possibility to join the work event virtually?
  • How can I put in more effort before I leave to avoid rescheduling my vacation?

how to ask for time off

Make Sure to Send Reminders Leading Up To Your Vacation

Your colleagues and management team likely have a lot on their plates. Life can get hectic! With everything going on in the workplace, others may have forgotten about your scheduled vacation. The last thing you want to do is leave the team unprepared and roll out of the office with your suitcase and a sunhat! Sending reminders before taking time off is a common practice in many workplace settings. Don’t feel as though you are being annoying! Your coworkers will appreciate the gentile reminder so that they can plan accordingly.

Reminder email template:

Hi team,

I just wanted to send a quick reminder that I will be leaving next Monday, 10/4, to go on vacation with my family! Since I will be gone the entire week, I have already completed all action items that needed my attention. If there is anything you need from me while I am away, please contact me on my cell phone!

Thank you,

(Your name here)

Rest & Relax

Remember that your vacation is time for you to get some well-earned R&R. While it is important to be there for your coworkers and teammates, take this time to recharge! It is totally okay to be selfish with your time while on vacation. Following these tips will help ensure a smooth exit and entrance back to the office once you arrive home.

Do you have any tips when it comes to asking for time off? Comment below and let us know! We would love to hear from you.

More to Read:

Taking Time Off Work For Your Mental Health

Reasons to Save Up Vacation Days

Everything You Need to Know About PTO

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