What is a time-off request form?

Time-off request form

A time-off request form is a document used in human resources (HR) management that is designed to streamline the process of employees seeking temporary leave from work. This standardized form enables employees to formally submit their request for vacation, sick leave, personal days, or other types of absences. It typically requires information such as the employee’s name and department, the reason for the time off, and the desired duration.

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The form also facilitates clear communication between employees and their supervisors, ensuring that appropriate coverage is arranged. No matter the length of the employee’s leave, having a system in place for tracking attendance allows departments to ensure business continuity.

Information required on an employee time-off request form

An employee time-off request form is designed to collect information such as:

  • Employee details: Full name, employee ID, department, and job title.
  • Type of leave: Vacation, sick leave, personal day, bereavement, or other.
  • Leave duration: Start and end dates of the requested time off, along with the total number of workdays.
  • Reason for absence: A brief explanation, if required by company policy, to provide context for the request. Note that some reasons for absence, such as Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requests, military service, and jury duty, may require separate documentation.
  • Contact information: The employee’s preferred method of communication during their absence, such as phone and/or email.
  • Backup plan: Details of a team member who can cover responsibilities during the employee’s absence.
  • Manager approval: A designated space for a supervisor’s signature or electronic approval indicating their consent.
  • HR review: A section for HR personnel to confirm adherence to company policies, track the remaining leave balance, and record additional notes.
  • Date submitted: To ensure timely processing and to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Reasons to use a printable time-off request form

While an electronic system has many benefits, there are times when a printable time-off request form makes more sense. Here are several advantages for organizations and employees alike.

  • Tangible records: Physical copies facilitate easy filing and archiving for future reference, ensuring accurate documentation for HR compliance and auditing purposes.
  • Ease of use: Printable forms are simple to complete and submit, providing a user-friendly experience for employees across varying levels of digital proficiency.
  • Universal accessibility: With no reliance on internet connectivity or software, printable forms are accessible to all employees, eliminating technological barriers and glitches. 
  • Visual clarity: A well-structured, printed form enables managers and HR personnel to quickly review and assess leave requests, streamlining decision-making.
  • Reduced miscommunication: Printed forms standardize the time-off request process, minimizing potential misunderstandings and promoting clear communication.
  • Signature validation: Physical forms allow for traditional signatures, adding a personal touch to the approval process and increasing accountability across the board.

Backup documentation: In case of system failures or data loss, hard copies serve as a valuable backup.

How to review a request for time off form

Requiring a request for time off form is just the start. As an HR professional, executive, or company owner, you must have a clear process for reviewing these requests. Here’s what you can do:

  • Assess for completeness: Verify that all required fields are filled out, ensuring that the form provides comprehensive information.
  • Confirm eligibility: Cross-check the employee’s leave balance, adhering to company policies and any legal regulations. Be sure to verify whether the request for planned time off was submitted within the proper time frame based on company policies.
  • Consider workload: Evaluate the employee’s current projects and deadlines to determine the impact of their absence on team productivity.
  • Analyze staffing needs: Determine if adequate coverage is available during the requested period.
  • Review backup plan: Ensure that a viable handover strategy is in place to minimize potential disruptions.
  • Prioritize fairness: Examine previous leave requests and approvals to maintain equitable treatment among staff.
  • Communicate promptly: Inform the employee of the decision in a timely manner so that they can make necessary arrangements.
  • Document the outcome: Record the approved or denied request in the employee’s file, track leave balances, and establish a historical record.

As part of your review process, consider how you will handle overlapping requests within a team and how the company handles periods of high-volume requests, like summer vacation periods and holidays. Some companies implement a first-come, first-served system, while others defer to the employees’ seniority levels.

It’s also important to distinguish between planned personal requests, emergency requests, and those that may be legally protected. For example, FMLA requests and requests pertaining to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations may need to be tracked separately for compliance reasons.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.