How to Ask for Time Off of Work

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    If you are feeling overwhelmed and are wondering how to stay motivated in the workplace, you might want to consider taking some time off. This could give you the extra boost of motivation you need to realign your work-life balance. That said, it can feel intimidating to know how to ask for days off at work. Especially if you don’t know your company’s protocol or are otherwise a new employee. 

    In this article, we will review how to ask for time off from work in a way that is effective and professional. We will also review common reasons people decide to ask for time off from work, as well as how to ask for extended time off work and how to ask your doctor for time off work. 

    So if you are looking for more guidance in regards to how to ask for a day off from work or how to write an email asking for time off work, read on!

    Common reasons to take time off

    There are lots of reasons why people decide to take time off from work. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons below:

    Sometimes you will only need a day or two off from work. Typically, when you ask your boss for a single day off, your request can be more easily accommodated. 

    Sometimes, though, you will need to know how to ask for extended time off work and how to ask your doctor for time off work. These requests will take a bit more planning, and typically, a bit more paperwork. In most cases, you should reach out to your Human Resources department to review your options moving forward.

    Paid time off Vs. Unpaid time off

    When you ask for time off from work, it’s important to remember that there is Paid Time Off (PTO) and Unpaid Time Off. Let’s review the difference. 

    Paid time off (PTO)

    Some companies offer several days to several weeks of Paid Time Off (PTO) for employees. You may have to be at a company for 6 months to a year before you earn any PTO. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to review company policies carefully. 

    Additionally, companies may have a set number of paid days off you have, or it might depend on how much time you’ve worked at the company. This latter scenario is often referred to as “Earn Time.”

    Unpaid time off

    Even if you don’t have any Earn Time or PTO, you may still be able to take time off from work. In this case, though, it would be unpaid. 

    Again, there is a lot of variation in policies between companies. This is why it is important to familiarize yourself with your company’s specific protocols regarding sick days, paid time off, earn time, and unpaid time off. This will also help you figure out how to ask for time off from work in a way that is efficient and nondisruptive.

    Why it’s important to review company policies

    Review your employee handbook or schedule a time to discuss your questions and concerns with your boss or someone in Human Resources. Learn the difference between sick days, earn time, paid time off, and unpaid time off according to your company. 

    For example, you may need to fill out paperwork to file a formal time off request. This could be done either on paper or through an online platform. It’s also important to figure out how much notice you need to give before you can take time off. For some employers, a week’s notice is fine; for others, though, they may need a month or more to accommodate your request, especially if it is for a substantial amount of time. 

    What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

    The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees who work for covered employers — this includes elementary and secondary schools, public agencies, and companies with 50 or more employees — to take unpaid leave in the case of a medical or family emergency. If an employee decides to take a leave of absence under this act, their job will be protected and their health insurance will continue uninterrupted during their absence.

    What qualifies as a medical or family emergency under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

    5 practical steps to take when asking for time off

    So what is the best way to ask for time off work? Let’s review a few key tips and steps for how to ask your boss for time off work.


    Plan ahead

    Make sure you plan ahead and give your workplace adequate notice. If you are only asking for a day off, you may only need to give a week’s notice. If you need to take a week off or more, however, you will likely need to give significantly more notice. This will depend on your specific workplace. Check in with your boss and review any official policies so that you can plan accordingly. 


    Be assertive but not aggressive

    Yes, you deserve time off and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it, but technically you do need permission. This is why it is important to be respectful but assertive in your request. You may also want to ask your boss after you have met an important deadline or have otherwise caught up on your work. You are more likely to receive a favorable response if you are a capable and valuable worker. 


    Be a team player

    Try to plan your time off so that it is the least disruptive. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but if you can, try to avoid taking time off of work during particularly busy periods. It is also important to check in with your coworkers to let them know what days you will be out of work. Not only is this respectful, but it will help ensure that everything remains organized and that things run smoothly while you are away.


    Always follow up in writing

    Even if you ask your boss for time off in person, you should always follow up in writing. This will help everyone remain organized. Depending on your workplace, you may need to fill out a specific form. This form could be online or a paper copy.


    Review your company’s official policies

    Always review your company’s official policies. This will help prevent miscommunications and will help you plan accordingly. 

    How to ask for a day off work: email example

    Even if you ask for time off in person, it’s important to follow up via email so that there is a paper trail of your request. This is why it is important to learn how to ask for time off via email. Not only will this help management stay organized, but it will also help vouch for you in the future, in case there are any miscommunications. 

    That said, let’s take a look at a “how to ask for time off work by email” sample: 

    So why is this a good example of how to write a letter asking for time off work? 

    Well firstly, it is considerate and respectful. The fact that Noel is willing to adjust deadlines shows that she is a team player and is invested in her work. The email also includes relevant dates and provides some context for why Noel is requesting time off. While it is not necessary to disclose why you are requesting time off, it can help to foster goodwill. 

    How to ask for time off when you’re a new employee

    It can be difficult to know how to ask for time off when you just started. This is why it is important to review your company’s official policies. Refer to your employee handbook or reach out to your supervisor or the head of Human Resources. 

    It is also important to note that if you already know you will need time off when you are applying for a new job, your time off request can often be accommodated as part of the hiring agreement. It is also common to ask questions about how to ask for vacation time at work during the hiring process.  

    So if you’ve already planned a vacation or an appointment, be sure to discuss this with your hiring manager. Otherwise, follow the 5 practical steps outlined above to know how to properly ask for time off work.

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    At some point, everyone needs a break. Hopefully, with some time off from work, you will be able to recharge and reset. Sometimes, though, it is not that simple. If you are struggling with a toxic work environment, it may be time to start thinking about finding a new career. There are lots of resources available to you as you navigate your career. If you are wondering when to ask for a raise, how to change careers, or anything else related to the workforce, reach out to learn more about our services

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