PTO (paid time off) days are a perk most companies offer , but be strategic on how you use your time and how you ask. When requesting time off from work, be aware of your supervisor and coworkers schedules, and keep in mind how it impacts your responsibilities when someone else is out on vacation. Being upfront and conscientious about requesting time off ensures that you and your colleagues are able to be comfortable with the time taken away from the office. Check out our top tips for what to do and what not to do when requesting time off from work.
1. Give Notice
Give your employer plenty of notice before taking time off. How much notice to give for PTO? That’s going to depend on your workplace, but a good rule of thumb is a minimum of 2 weeks notice if you’re taking 1-2 days and a minimum of 1-2 months for 3+ days. If you try to request off without much notice, chances are your request will be declined.
2. Request in writing
Speak with your manager first any time you are interested in taking time off. One you’ve had that conversation, be sure to formally submit your time-off request in writing or via email – a verbal request can easily be forgotten. At some organizations, employees can request time off via their payroll portal (ie. ADP or Paycom). Follow the protocols of your organization, but be sure to keep a copy of your approval in writing.
3. Be considerate of your coworkers
Try to plan your vacations, trips, etc. taking into account your supervisors and coworkers’ schedules to avoid taking time off at the same time as the rest of the office. No one wants to be at the office holding down the fort when multiple people are out on vacation. If at all possible, try not to overlap your vacations with those of your coworkers.
Another great way to make your time away go smoothly when requesting time off work is to provide a plan for how your responsibilities can be covered. Helping set your colleagues up for success while you’re away will make everyone’s lives easier and will give you the confidence that your work is being handled appropriately.
4. Medical appointments
Try to schedule any doctor’s appointments, etc. during your lunch break, or at the beginning or end of the day, so that you don’t need to miss much work. No one wants to use their precious vacation time for appointments if you can help it.
5. Sick time
If your sick days are separate from your PTO days, try to save your sick days for when you are actually sick – you never know when/if you will need them. If you have all of your PTO days combined, try to reserve a couple in case you get sick, so you won’t have to take leave without pay.
6. When starting a new job
Don’t request a lot of time off within the first 3 months of a new job. If you have previously planned trips that fall within that time span, let your employer know when you are going over your offer. Also, it’s a good idea to review the company’s PTO policy since some companies have a waiting period before benefits such as PTO kick in.
Don’t assume that you have all federal holidays off. Review the PTO policy and clarify which holidays are observed, and which are not. All companies are different and outside of the federal government, companies observe different holidays.
Below are some examples of an in person and emailed time off request.
Time off request conversation example:
Hi [Supervisor], would you have a moment to discuss a time off request? I have [number] PTO days, and am hoping to take [number] of days off for [reason for request] in [month]. Let me know what might be a good time to discuss this further and to get something on the calendar. Thank you.
Time off request email example:
As previously discussed, I would like to request to use my PTO to take off from [Date] through [Date].
I have prepared some notes regarding any active projects, and would be happy to go through them with the team in preparation for my departure.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to ensure everything is covered in my absence.