Career Development

How to Ask for a Day Off: Tips, Template and Example

October 29, 2020

Employers often require you to send a request to your supervisor or manager when you want to take a day off. Learning how to properly ask for time off can increase your chances of your manager approving the request. In this article, we discuss steps you can take when requesting time off and provide a template and example to use. 

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How to ask for time off

Here are six steps you should consider when asking for a day off:

1. Review your company’s PTO policy

Before you request time off, it can be helpful to look at your company’s vacation policy. Some companies have specific request policies, such as being able to take 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 request. If you are a new employee, you may want to confirm that you are eligible to use these hours before requesting them. Some companies may ask new hires to wait until after their probation period to request vacation time.

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 still 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.

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 as many tasks or projects to complete. For example, accountants who want a day off in spring will usually wait until after April to ask due to the busy tax season. You can ask your employer what the best time is if you are unsure.

Related: The Do's and Don'ts of Taking a Sick Day

3. Discuss your request at an appropriate time

Consider asking for a day off during a time that’s good for your manager. For example, to increase your chances of your supervisor approving the day off, you may want to ask after accomplishing your tasks for the day or finishing a large project.

If you plan to ask in person, you could try asking your manager when they have free time so you can have a discussion about your request. For instance, if your manager usually has extra time in the mornings before they begin their work, you could try asking then.

4. Ask rather than tell

Since your manager will most likely need to approve your request, ask them if the time you’ve selected for vacation is acceptable rather than telling them you’re taking time off. When making your request, you can mention that you planned your vacation when it will not affect your team, and tell them if you’re available to answer questions while you’re away.

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5. Offer concise details

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

6. Send your request in the correct format

Determine the correct way to ask for time off before you make your request. 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 give your request. Some employers ask for one or two weeks’ notice, while other supervisors may need 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 time so your manager can find the appropriate coverage for your duties.

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Time off request email template

This sample template explains how you can request a day off:

Hi [supervisor’s name],

I want to request time off this [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 okay to use my vacation hours toward my day off to [reason for request]? Please let me know.

Thank you,
[Your name]

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Requesting time off example email

Here is an email example you can use as a guide when you request time off:

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 okay to use my vacation days 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 have a discussion in person this week.

Thank you,
Nia

Related: What is Unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO) and How Does it Work?