How to Ask for Time Off From Work

How to Ask for Time Off From Work

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The Difference Between Paid Time Off vs. Unpaid Time Off

Paid Time Off Paid time off represents the amount of time a company has designated you can have off from work but still be paid. Not all companies offer paid time off, and even if they do, you might have to accrue the time before you can take off from work and still be paid. For example, you might accrue one paid day off for every month you work.

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The Difference Between Paid Time Off vs. Unpaid Time Off

Unpaid Time Off Unpaid time off represents the time you can take away from work unpaid but still remain employed and have a job to go back to after. If you have exceeded your number of paid sick days or paid vacation days, or you’re in a position that doesn’t offer paid time off, the company might still allow you to take time off from work, but it will be unpaid time.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

1. Know Your Company's PTO Policy We're really drilling this point into you, but start by knowing what your company policies are around time off. You'll also want to follow the guidelines for requesting time off. Some companies are super casual, and you can simply have a conversation with your boss. Others will require you to 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

go through a formal submission process first. Before you book those flights, know what your company requires.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

2. Look at the Company Calendar + Schedule in Advance There's nothing worse than going on your dream vacation and being stressed about work the whole time.  One way to mitigate that is by checking the company calendar and scheduling your time off wisely. Don't take time off during a notorious high-volume 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

business time because that can place a challenging burden on your company and team members.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

3. Be Caught Up on Work Before you talk to your manager about your time off, it's smart to make sure you've already caught up on work and performing well. This means you're not missing deadlines on a regular basis. If you're organized and have your work affairs in a good place, it will make requesting time off easier and your boss is more likely to accept without question.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

4. Talk to Your Manager Before You Make Plans If you're gearing up for a major vacation—like that dream trip to Europe—it's best to mention the PTO timeline you're thinking about to make sure there aren't any major conflicts before you book the trip. Additionally, this is a casual way to bring up your PTO plans, and your manager will be less surprised when you put in the request.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

5. Be Specific With Your Request In order to be successful with asking for time off, we recommend being as specific as possible once you do know what you're planning for PTO.  You should know the exact dates you'll be out of the office and other details that would be relevant to your manager. Put yourself in their shoes—

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

what will they think about? Maybe it's about a client or the status of a project. Try to be clear so that they're not put in the role of being a micromanager with lots of questions. At the same time, don't overshare details that are unnecessary or super personal—they don't need to know every detail of your vacation plans.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

6. Send a Formal Request in Writing We like to cover our bases, and one of the things that can help with doing that is over-communicating.  At this point, you've talked with your manager, put in your request through any formal process, and now we'd recommend sending an email 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

to your manager to confirm your time off. It never hurts to have a paper trail of your request. Some managers and employees even like a calendar invite so they don't make plans for important meetings while you're away.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

7. Communicate to Your Internal Team Another proactive move is letting your team members know when you plan to be out once your request is approved. This courtesy gives them the heads up so they can plan their own projects—and time off. You can let them know verbally, via a calendar invite, or you could add something to your 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

email signature like this: Please note: I'll be on PTO between April 1- April 8th. Just a simple reminder like this added to the bottom of your emails can help your team plan around your PTO so you're not getting urgent requests while you sip a Mai Tai at the beach.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

8. Communicate With External Contacts If you work with external contacts like clients, customers, or vendors, it can be helpful to let them know when you'll be out of the office as well.  We don't want to put a burden on them to memorize your vacation plans, but two weeks prior to your PTO, send an email 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

with your dates and give them the heads up that now is the time to ask you for something before you leave. By offering to help before you leave, you'll not only create a good impression, but it shows your commitment to the work.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

9. Have a Plan for Coverage While You're Gone Before you leave, share your plan for how your work can be covered. The key here is that this should be simple to follow!  Consider sharing an email with bullet points, a shared document with links with easy access to anything people might need access to, and the 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

name of the point person + contact information (if applicable) for specific topics or questions.

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

10. Set an OOO Message At this point, you've planned all you can—but your email is still open for business.  We recommend creating a vacation autoresponder through your email provider so that anyone who emails while you're taking time off will get an auto-reply. Your out-of-office message should include the dates you're away and who they 

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10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off

can contact (if applicable) for specific questions.

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