Time-Off Request: How To Ask for a Day Off (With Examples)

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated May 23, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated May 23, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

Employers often require you to request time off in advance. However, certain steps should be taken to both get permission and remain in good favor with your supervisor. In this article, we discuss steps you can take when requesting time off and provide an example to help you.

How to ask for time off

Here are four steps to take when asking for a day off:

1. Review your company’s PTO policy

Before you request time off, it’s best to review your company’s paid time off (PTO) policy. Some companies have specific policies about taking a set number of days in a row off. For example, your company may let you take only five consecutive days off unless it’s a special circumstance.

Check how many PTO hours or days you have before making your time-off request. If you are a new employee, you may not have accrued PTO yet. Some companies may ask new hires to wait until after their probation period to request vacation time. You may not be allowed to take time off or if you do, it may be without pay.

If you have already used all of your vacation time or you’re in a position that doesn’t offer paid time off, you may be able to take unpaid leave. Review your employee handbook or ask your human resources representative for more information about your company’s vacation policies.

Your company may also have specific policies regarding different types of time off. For example, you may be allotted three days for bereavement leave without it counting against your PTO. Also, jury duty is usually allowed without loss of personal time. If you will be out for longer than usual, such as for surgery, you may be required to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.

Common types of time off include:

  • Vacation

  • Bereavement

  • Health or disability (illness, surgery, etc.)

  • Personal time

  • Jury duty

  • Military

  • Maternity or paternity

  • Leave of absence (short- or long-term)

Read more: Guide To Understanding How PTO Works

2. Look at the company calendar

If your request is flexible, you should consult the company calendar to see if the days you want to take off conflict with other events. Consider requesting time off when you may not have many tasks or projects to complete. For example, accountants who want a day off in spring will usually wait until after April due to the busy tax season. You can ask your employer what the best time is if you're unsure.

3. Discuss your request with your manager

Schedule a time that’s convenient with your manager to discuss your request. To increase your chances of approval, you might ask to meet after accomplishing your tasks for the day or finishing a large project. If your manager usually has extra time in the mornings before they begin their work, you might suggest meeting then.

It’s typically not mandatory to give a reason for a PTO request unless you’re planning an extended time away from your job. However, your manager may appreciate knowing your general plans. For example, you may want to mention that you’re planning to go to a family reunion.

4. Send a formal request

After you’ve spoken with your manager, you may be required to submit a formal request for time off. Some companies may require a written statement while an in-person request is acceptable for others. Your company may have an online timekeeping portal in which you’ll need to submit your request.

You should also confirm how far in advance you need to make your request. Some employers ask for one or two weeks’ notice while others require at least a month in advance. The notice period might also depend on the length of time you plan to ask for.

For example, if you want to take one day off, your employer might only need a week’s notice. Longer vacation periods may need an extended notice so your manager can find someone to cover your duties.

Related: The Best Way To Ask for Time Off via Email

Time-off requests

Depending on your company’s policies, you may need to formally request time off through an email, form or online timekeeper.

Time-off request email template

Here’s a sample email template to request a day off:

Hi [supervisor’s name],

I want to request time off [date] due to [reason]. I am happy to discuss this with you more in person if you would like.

My team has no significant deadlines or presentations to give on [day you’re requesting off]. Would it be OK to use my vacation hours toward my day off to [reason for request]? Please let me know.

Thank you,
[Your name]

Example of time-off request email

Here is an email example:

Dear Ayra,

I have three vacation days available and would like to use these at the end of November. My husband and I would like to plan a trip to California. Would it be OK to use my vacation days from Nov. 23-25? I looked at our team schedule and I should be able to finish reviewing the escrow records by then. I can be available by email during my vacation for quick questions. Let me know if you’d like to discuss it in person this week.

Thank you,

Download the time-off letter template
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Time-off request form template

Here is a time-off request form template that can be adjusted as needed for your company:

Employee Time Off Request
Instructions: Complete the form below. Circle the appropriate type of leave. If you circle "other," explain the reason for your absence. Sign and date where indicated. Submit your request form to HR no later than five business days before your requested leave.
Date request submitted:
Requested time off start date:
Requested time off end date:
Total days off:
Date of return to work:
Reason for Employee Time Off
Vacation Personal leave
Bereavement leave Jury duty
Military duty Medical leave
FMLA Other:
Employee certification
I understand my request may be denied by management. I certify I am submitting my form at least five workdays before the requested time off.
Employee signature:
Management Decision: Approved/ Denied
HR signature: Date:

Tips for asking for time off

  1. Ask rather than tell: Since your manager will likely be the one to need to approve your request, ask for time off rather than telling them you’re taking time off. After all, their permission is required.

  2. Ask sooner than later: Your request is more likely to be approved if you don’t wait until the last minute to make your request. Some companies have policies requiring a minimum amount of notice while others do not. Give your manager as much time as possible to arrange the work schedule in your absence.

  3. Provide assurance: When making your request, you can mention that you planned your vacation so it will not affect your team and that you’re available to answer questions while you’re away.

  4. Let your co-workers know: Once your request is approved, let your coworkers know you will be out and when you will return. This will help them plan to cover your duties. It also helps maintain a good working relationship when coworkers aren’t taken by surprise or caught off-guard.

  5. Line up help: Make it easy for your manager by possibly lining up coworkers who are willing to do your work while you’re out. Check with others in advance to make sure your request doesn’t conflict with someone else’s time-off request.

  6. Be flexible: If possible, be flexible or willing to compromise if your request is likely to be denied. Offer to work late in advance of your time out or alter your travel plans. That is not always possible, especially with airlines, cruises, and family reunions, but your manager will appreciate your willingness to cooperate.

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