How to ask your boss for time off

Whether you need a mental health break, you’re heading to your sister’s wedding, or you’re simply due for vacation because you’ve racked up too many hours and they won’t roll over, you’re going to have to figure out the best way to approach your boss to ask for time off.  Here are just a few pointers to get you through this potentially stressful encounter.

Know company policy

Every company has different policies regarding time off, and before you ask, you need to know the rules.  This may mean consulting the employee handbook or speaking with an HR representative.  First and foremost, you should look into how much time off you are allotted annually.  In some cases, it is related to the hours you work or whether you’re hourly or salaried.  You should learn the policies for paid versus unpaid vacation days.

You also need to know the policy related to multiple employees taking time off at the same time, as many employees may ask for time during the summer months or the winter holidays.  Is it first come, first served, or is there some wiggle room based on need?  Finally, you should find out norms for busy times within your office or industry.  If you’re a CPA, don’t expect to get approved for vacation time leading up to April 15th, for example.

Check accrued time

Before you ask for time off, you should make sure you have it available.  If you’re unsure how much time off you’ve accrued or you can’t recall how much you already used, send an email to your HR department requesting this information prior to speaking with your boss.

Plan ahead

This is a biggie.  It’s not uncommon for employees to schedule vacations at peak times like summer or winter holidays, so if you have plans, you need to get a jump on asking for time off.  Advance notice gives your boss plenty of time to check the schedule and see if there is a problem on the horizon like a heavy workload or other employees already taking time off.  If not, you should be able to get the days you request.

Request in writing

Putting things in writing is always the best policy for tracking purposes, so instead of speaking to your boss directly, put your request in writing via email.  If your boss has questions or concerns, he/she can either respond in writing or speak to you in person to clarify.  In the meantime, you’ll have time-stamped proof of your request in case other employees try to book the same dates later on.

Post by Sarah Harris

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