With the exception of the United States, most western countries make it mandatory for organizations to provide vacation time, personal time, sick time, and holidays to all their employees. That said, even employers in the US must give their employees time off work as it is part of their compensation package. Workers can ask to be away from the office by filling in a time off request form. In this article, we look at what goes into preparing this document, including best practices surrounding the process.
What Is a Time off Request Form?
An employee time-off request form is a fillable document completed by an employee asking an employer to sign off on a scheduled absence from work. This could be for a vacation, sick leave, or any other reason the employee deems appropriate. Usually, the request is submitted to the employer in advance, who then approves or rejects it.
Note: While there is no federal US law for the number of days a year an employer must give their workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sets the average at ten paid days and eight more for federal holidays.
How to Request Time-Off from Work
The response from your employer will depend on the company’s policies and procedures with regard to time-off requests. That said, you can also increase your chances of getting approval by following this guide for asking for time off work:
Step 1: Determine the Type of Time Off
The first step to asking for a leave from your employer is determining the type of time off you need. Some of the most common options include:
- Sick leave
- Vacation days
- Jury duty
- Maternity or paternity Leave
- Short or long leave of absence
Step 2: Talk to Your Manager
With the type of leave in mind, you should now arrange a meeting with your manager to discuss your intended absence. Make sure to time your request so that it doesn’t fall during the busy season.
Step 3: Send in Your Request
Next, put your request into writing and submit a formal time off request form. The document should identify how long you will be away from work, including a start and end date. Your employer should respond to your letter within 48 hours of receiving it.
Step 4: Notify Your Team
If your leave request is approved, consider informing your supervisor and immediate team so they can plan their projects around your absence. If it is rejected, have another meeting with your employer to find out why and make some adjustments to your request as appropriate.
Using a Time Off Request Form
Employers use the time off request forms to keep track of requested sick days and vacation leaves. They then use this information to adjust schedules and work hours so that projects are still completed on time. On the other hand, employees use these documents to request time away from work to handle personal matters, go for vacation, or seek treatment.
It is important to note that time off requests are not subject to approval or rejection unless they are submitted. This means you have to ask for leave so your employer can deliberate and make a decision, and you won’t get time off just because you deserve it.
Time off Request Forms and Templates
Essential Elements of a Time-Off Request Form
A time off request form is used for recordkeeping purposes in a company, so it must be detailed and filled according to company policies. The following are the key elements to include:
- The request date
- Your name, job title, and department (if you work in a large company).
- The dates and duration of your leave, e.g. ‘four days from July 12, 2031, to July 16, 2031.’
- The type of time off you need
- The approval or denial date
- The signature of the person that approved the request
The employer will usually record a note to remind them to add an employee’s leave dates into the payroll system and employee calendar.
How to Write a Time Off Request
A Time Off Request Form is not just an official record of your absence from work; it is also the most professional and formal way to handle a leave request. This is why you should read through your company’s policies and guidelines before drafting them. Once you are familiar with the provisions, use the following guide to prepare the document:
- Step 1: Start by explaining your reason for writing: to ask for time off work. This information should come in the first paragraph, so your employer knows your intentions from the word go.
- Step 2: Next, explain why you are asking for time off. Remember, this only means listing the type of leave; you don’t have to go into detail about what you will be doing.
- Step 3: If you already have approval from your supervisor, mention and attach the letter to your request form as supporting documentation.
- Step 4: Now, mention the employees that will be covering your projects in your absence.
- Step 5: Indicate the start and end dates of your leave from work, including the duration, so your team can plan their projects around your absence.
- Step 6: If you work in a small company, address and send your request form to your team’s supervisor or manager. Employees in large companies can send the letter to the HR department.
Best Practices: Time Off Request
Employees could be tempted to slip a note under their employer’s door telling them they need the next two weeks off, but this is not professional behavior. Neither is an employer ignoring time off requests or being biased in their deliberations. Consequently, time-off practices need to be regulated by company policies. The following are the best leave practices a company should practice:
1. Define the Notice Timelines
It is important that an employer define how much notice an employee must give for a time-off request. A good policy is that workers cannot book a leave period a year out of the date. Similarly, the timeline shouldn’t be too short so that the company can keep track of work hours.
2. Create an Approval Policy for Multiple Requests
Sometimes, employees will ask for time off at the same time, and you have to define an approval policy else you will end up with a half-empty office. Determine whether you will grant requests in terms of the reason for the time off or employee seniority.
3. Give Sick Days Priority
Employees are entitled to sick days for therapy or medical treatment. If a worker has a doctor’s note or appointment, you should give their time off request priority.
4. Don’t Pry
When an employee asks for time off, avoid asking them for too much information on why they need it or what they will be doing. Employees are not obligated to explain their leaves.
5. Say Yes When You Can
If you have no valid business reasons to deny a leave request, then say yes, as time off work is part of every employee’s compensation package.
6. Don’t Say No After You Say Yes
If you accept a time off request, don’t change your mind for no valid reason, as you could demoralize your employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far in advance should you ask for time off?
Most companies require that you send in your time off request at least 14 days before you need to take your leave. That said, policies differ from company to company, so you should talk to your manager beforehand or review the company manual for more information.
Are employers allowed to ask why you need time off?
Essentially, you are not required to explain to your employer why you are taking time off work and how you will spend your leave. Nonetheless, most companies require a doctor’s medical note if you are away from work for a given number of consecutive days for health reasons. It is important to talk to your HR to learn what your company’s policy says about leaves.
Can your employer deny you time off?
Unfortunately, yes. Your employer has discretion over when and whether employees get time off work. They can deny your request if they have valid business reasons, such as a busy season. That said, the cause must be reasonable and work-related.
How do you ask for last-minute time off?
When a situation calls for you to miss work without notice, it is best to have a one-on-one conversation with your employer. Explain the urgency of the matter and apologize for not giving them proper notice. When you come back from your emergency, talk to your employer again so they know you had a genuine matter you had to see to and won’t make a habit of impromptu leaves.
Employers have the responsibility to make sure there is enough manpower at any one time to cover all projects in progress. They are also responsible for seeing to it that their employees are happy and able to focus on their duties. Consequently, one of their most crucial jobs is approving or disapproving time off requests. An employee makes an official inquiry of this kind by filling out a time off request form containing the type of leave they need and the start and end dates of their leave.