How to request vacation time

The process of requesting time off from work.

The wing of a plane in flight

Everyone needs a break from work once in a while. The process you follow for requesting time off from work will depend on a few factors, including your company’s policy and the reason for your request. A clear understanding of the necessary steps will ensure that you and your employer are on the same page. 

You’re under no obligation to explain why you’re using paid time off. As long as you have the days available to you, it’s your decision as to how you use them. Some of the most common reasons include: 

  • Vacation: As the phrase “vacation time” implies, use your paid time off to get out of town
  • Staycation: Rather than going on a trip, take advantage of leisure activities at home and around your community
  • Assisting a loved one: Attend to duties such as caring for a child or other family member when they’re ill or helping someone move 

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Requesting time off from work

The method for requesting vacation time varies between companies based on their internal policies. But there are a few common ways to request time off:

  • Email: A brief request via email to your manager and HR department may be all it takes to secure vacation time
  • Face-to-face conversation: In small companies—such as those where employees report directly to the founder—a face-to-face conversation is often best
  • Employee management platform: Employees use a dashboard to send a vacation time request to their team lead or HR manager

There are pros and cons to all these methods, and employers generally choose the one that best suits the size and structure of their teams. 

Tips for requesting days off work

It’s one thing to know the process for requesting time off from work. It’s another thing entirely to do so in a manner that’s respectful to your manager, team, and company as a whole. 

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re requesting time off:

  • Follow protocol: For example, if your company wants you to request paid time off via email, don’t ask your manager in person. Doing so adds confusion to the process, which increases the risk of a mistake. 
  • Check with colleagues for overlap: Minimizing overlap usually isn’t mandatory for individual employees, but it can help keep your team running smoothly during busy times of the year. For instance, if you’re part of a three-person accounting department, it’s not good practice for all three team members to take a vacation at the same time. 
  • Give advance notice: While emergency requests are unavoidable, it’s best to give ample notice for planned absences. If you make travel arrangements several months before a trip, don’t wait until the week before you leave to submit a request. Making the request as soon as possible allows your company and colleagues to plan accordingly.

Template examples for requesting days off work

Email sample

This template is best suited for organizations that accept vacation requests via email, or as a follow-up to a request sent through an employee dashboard. In some cases, managers want to see requests in writing so they can update attendance calendars. 

[First name],

I am writing this note to request vacation time for the dates of [start date] to [end date]. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you for your time.

[Your name]

In-person conversation starter

If your organization defaults to face-to-face conversations, it’s important to be clear and to the point so the manager knows what to expect from the interaction. 

Hey [First name], I won’t take up much of your time. I want to put in a vacation request for [start date] to [end date]. When you get a chance, let me know if that works for you. 


Both approaches are likely to lead to follow-up questions, such as the person asking where you’re going or requesting that you complete specific tasks before leaving. While the former is just friendly conversation, the latter is an example of an important logistical matter to address.

How Oyster makes vacation requests easier

If you’re an employee, you can use this information to request vacation time more efficiently. And if you’re an employer, this guide can help you better manage the request process from start to finish.

Are you seeking a better way to manage time-off requests? Oyster can help. Our global employment platform is designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. From vacation time to health benefits and everything in between, Oyster makes it easy to manage your employees. 

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, 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.

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