What is a time-off request form?
A time-off request form is a document that formally records when an employee asks for time off and whether their supervisor approved or denied this request.
Types of time off
Here are some instances when an employee might want to request time off:
- Sickness: If an employee becomes ill and discovers they’re fighting off disease or prolonged illness, this is an appropriate event for an employee to request time off.
- Injury: Sustaining a major injury that requires rehabilitation or results in immobility is an appropriate case to ask for time off.
- Bereavement: Should an employee need time to grieve the death of a loved one, this is an instance where requesting time off would be appropriate.
- Family care: If an employee’s spouse, child, parent or another family member becomes injured or sick, consider granting time off so the employee can act as caregiver.
- Maternity: Grant time off to employees who are pregnant and will need maternity leave soon or are required by the doctor to rest.
- Military duty: It’s also appropriate to grant time off to military members who get called to active duty.
- Vacation: As long as an employee has not already used up their vacation days for the year, they can request time off to go on a planned vacation.
- FMLA: The Family and Medical Leave Act provides employees the opportunity to take job-protecting unpaid leave for specific medical reasons, such as handling serious chronic health issues of the employee or another family member for a period of 12 weeks after 12 months of employment.
How to manage time-off requests
The following section outlines some rules and guidelines you can apply to your company’s time-off policy.
- Create a time frame for employees to notify the company: This includes emergency incidents or accidents that cause your employee to request immediate leave without notice. However, for planned events, such as vacations or scheduled surgeries, it’s wise for employees to submit their time off request form ahead of time to help you make the necessary accommodations during their absence. Each company has its own policy, but request time frames range from one week to one month in advance and must be stated in the employee handbook.
- Establish a method for accommodating overlapping requests: One employee may request time off on the same dates as another. To deal with such cases, you need to establish a set of guidelines to determine who’ll be able to take time off on the requested dates. Consider making your decisions on a first-come, first-served basis or based on the level of urgency (such as surgery vs vacation time).
- Identify how to maintain office productivity during employee time off: Set up a temporary hierarchical structure for your employees when team leaders or those in vital roles are taking time off. Delegate tasks and additional responsibilities to those who are willing to take them on. If an employee will be taking an extended leave, consider hiring and training a temporary replacement.
- Set time-off restrictions for important dates and deadlines: Make your employees aware of specific dates that they’re not allowed to take off unless there’s a death, sudden illness or other emergency. This can help employees schedule events such as vacations before or after those dates.
- Approving time-off requests (within reason): The aim is to bring out the best in employees at all times. When you see a need to increase morale or improve overall work/life balance, it’s important to consider each request in context and approve those cases where it would be beneficial.
What to include in a time-off request form
- The employee’s full name
- The date they submitted the request
- The dates the employee needs to have off
- Why they need time off
- Signatures from the employee and their supervisor
- A statement that approves or denies an employee time off
How to create a time-off request form
Create and organize time-off request forms by using updated technological methods:
1. Establish mobile and email applications
Consider using apps and email applications that allow an employee to request time off and immediately secure those dates on the company’s electronic work schedule. This will prevent miscommunication and ensure their time-off request is confirmed.
2. Use an online form request
Online forms can be easily filed in electronic filing systems. These are easy to create using an online software program that has pre-built templates, or you can enlist the guidance of your IT department to make a tailored time-off request form.
3. Send out a company-wide notice
Once you’ve created the form, ensure all employees understand how to access and use it properly. You can do this in a tutorial video stored on your intranet, conduct in-person meetings or send an electronic memo.
A sample template for employee time-off request forms
Use this time-off request form template to use as a guide for creating your own.
Department & Job Position:
Date of Request:
Dates Requested for Leave:
Type of Leave: [vacation, medical leave, jury duty, sick leave, etc.]:
Manager Approval: Yes_ No_
Employee Signature and Date:
Manager Signature and Date:
Time-off request form example
Here’s an example of a filled-out time-off request form based on the template above.
Morley Financial Solutions
Employee Name: Samantha Robertson
Department & Job Position: Marketing department, external marketing specialist
Date of Request: 2/05/20
Dates Requested for Leave: 2/26/20-3/15/20
Type of Leave: Medical leave
Manager Approval: Yes X No_
Employee Signature: Samantha Robertson
Manager Signature: Kyle Smith
The bottom line for time-off requests
Approach an employee’s request for time off with compassion and understanding to help them pursue the option that’s best for their personal needs. By allowing an employee to take time off, you’re creating an opportunity for them to return to work refreshed and fully capable of performing their job responsibilities.
Time-off requests FAQs
Here are some additional answers to questions you might still have about time-off requests, request forms and other influential factors.
What determines whether an employee receives paid time off (PTO) or unpaid time off?
There are a couple of factors that can affect whether you grant an employee paid time off versus unpaid time off.
The first is whether the employee requesting time off is exempt (not able to be paid for overtime) or non-exempt (paid for overtime). Exempt employees can receive paid time off because they usually receive an annual salary with that as a benefit. Non-exempt employees usually don’t receive paid time off as they’re paid by the hour.
The second factor is whether an employee has already used all their sick or vacation days for the year. If this is the case, the employee will have to request unpaid leave. You can work with them to determine whether they want to use their PTO if they still have sick days or vacation days available.
Who is in charge of time-off requests and relevant paperwork?
Human resources staff is usually in charge of handling time-off requests and related events, since they specialize in employee and workplace relations. They’re the ones who meet with your employees, fill out the time-off request form and send it to a manager for approval or denial.
What do you say to an employee who requests too much time off?
There are many issues associated with taking too much time off, and when it does happen, there are a few ways you can respectfully but clearly demonstrate the problem:
- Remind them of the company’s time-off policy and establish the nature of the request to see if it qualifies under the other categories of approved leave.
- If it’s a prolonged absence, show them how their absence harms the team, department or company to help them understand why it may be denied.
- You can grant the time off but treat it as unpaid, especially if their PTO has been exhausted.
Each situation is different, and that’s why it’s up to the manager or employer to take some time to discuss the leave request first with their direct report.
Can an employer deny a PTO request?
If the PTO request is against company policy, the employer can deny it. Another reason might be that too many people are taking a vacation at the same time, which may cause strain. Additionally, even if the request was approved, employers can pull that approval. At the end of the day, employers generally have the right to deny PTO requests if they have a reasonable explanation for doing so.