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Requesting time-off

What is the Best Way for Employees to Request Time Off?

With the vaccines rolling out, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. People are longing to leave their homes and starting to think about the much-needed summer holidays. This means that sooner or later, you are going to start seeing employees request time off

Yet, vacation is not the only type of leave that employees may want to take. Other types of leave such as sick leave, maternity leave, and paid time off are still necessities for employees. And there are several ways in which employees can request this time off. It could be through email, a form, a time-off manager, HR software…the list goes on!

All of this can be difficult to manage. In this guide, we’re going to explore the different ways of requesting time off, their pros and cons, and offer a solution. Read on to find out more.

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Why It’s Important that Employees Request Time Off

Work is a major part of our lives. We spend a large amount of time there and socialize with our colleagues outside of office hours. Yet, occasionally it is important for us to stop, slow down, and take a few days off. In fact, it’s crucial. Our mental health and well-being can be affected if we don’t take time off to disconnect every once in a while. Employees who spend too much time in the office may be at risk for employee burnout.

It’s important to let employees know that it’s ok for them to request time off. And it’s not only well-being that calls for time off. Sometimes events occur that are out of our control. Perhaps we get sick, a loved one dies, we fall pregnant, we need a doctor’s appointment or we have to attend an event at our children’s school. Whatever it may be, sometimes we need to ask for time off. 

And if we’ve learned anything from this year, it’s that there are so many uncertainties. It’s been a tough year and, as a result of the pandemic and its restrictions, employees have not been using their time off. In fact, 92% of Americans canceled their vacation plans in 2020. Therefore, many workers now have surplus time off and are looking to summer 2021 to use it.

So what is the best way for employers to process their absence requests? Let’s take a look. 

How to Send a Request for Time Off Email 

The simplest way to have employees ask for leave is with a request time off email. All this involves is having workers write to you via email to ask for their time off, indicating the amount and dates. Although, you might want to put in place some instructions for writing this email. You want to be sure that they include all the necessary information about the type of time off, the amount of days and specific dates. Ultimately, this will help you when logging the information. 

If you’re not sure how this kind of email should look, here is a template. 

Subject: John Smith – Time Off Request

Hi [insert name],

I’d like to take 5 days vacation during my children’s summer break in August. The dates are August 1st to 5th. 

If it’s approved, I’ll make sure to catch up on my current projects. I will inform you of any other work that needs to be covered during my absence. 

Thanks very much for your consideration.



One of the main advantages of using email for requesting time off is that, as you can see above, it is very clear and concise. Not only this, but the employee can CC their supervisor and the HR manager for a quick and easy reply. Furthermore, email provides digital documentation that cannot be lost. So, when the time comes for the employee to take their leave, this document will be easy to find and check. 


However, there are some disadvantages to using this method. Although communication via email is quick, filing and managing the requests is slow. The HR manager needs to manually transfer the data to their calendars. This means that things can be lost in translation and any changes and updates need to be done manually. In some cases, emails may even be lost in spam mail or you simply miss the email in your inbox.

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Making Use of a Request for Time Off Template 

Another way to have employees communicate their time off is with a request time off form. This is effective as it is a formal and professional way to communicate absence with the HR manager. They include all the necessary information regarding time off, such as type, dates and who will be covering the absentee. If you don’t have a digital system in place, employees can submit their employee time off request form on paper. 


Like the email, the form offers a clear and simple way for employees to request time off. As it requests all the details surrounding the time off, it is thorough, meaning you won’t have to chase up any further information. Furthermore, it allows you to plan ahead to ensure that the employee’s work will be covered by someone else. 


Unlike the email, this paper form could be lost or damaged. Therefore, it is not always the most reliable method of communication. Furthermore, although it offers direct communication with the HR manager, like the email, you will still have to input the data onto your calendars manually. This can slow the process down and leave room for error. 

HR software: Using a Request Time off Manager 

A third option for requesting time off is to use an HR software that acts as your personal time off manager. This is easy to install and simple to use. It’s main aim is to help you manage requests for employee leave. This software is built to cover multiple departments and teams, so HR can view everything online. 


The objective of this HR time off software is to eliminate messy paperwork and streamline the time off process. Policies are automatically implemented and requests are sent directly to managers who can view everything online. They can then easily accept, reject or amend time off requests. 

Another benefit of this software is that it allows you to manage other aspects of your time off policy, such as accruals, banked time, and other calculations. Furthermore, managers can run HR reports in order to take advantage of time off data and gain insight into their workforce. This can make understanding and managing the whole time off process seamless.

An all-in-one software like Factorial also comes with employee time tracking and shift management solutions, document centralization, performance management, expense tracking, and more. Having all your HR processes in one place will help your business run more smoothly and expediently, saving you time in the long run.


If your company currently uses paper forms for time off, it may be that the system will take some getting used to. Often people are not familiar with digital software and this can be daunting at first. As such, you may need to set up some training initially to get to grips with the software. However, once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s easy to use. 


If you’re interested in updating your request time off strategy, using HR software is the easiest and most effective option to choose. If you’d like to find out more about time off, head over to our blog to read more.

Written by Charlotte Stace.

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