How To Create a Time Off Request Policy

A time-off request policy should streamline the process of asking for and granting time off. Your policy should include details about how far in advance requests must be submitted, how often one can request time off, instances when time-off requests won’t be granted, and a way handle overlapping requests.

How to set up a PTO policy and approve time-off requests | Gusto

Why is a time off request policy important?

Time off request policies are crucial because they simplify the process of time off approval and inform managers and staff members of what is acceptable when requesting vacation days to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion. You can quickly consult the time off request policy to confirm that you are adhering to the company’s specific time off regulations before deciding whether to grant an employee vacation time on particular days. This keeps the workplace productive and avoids staff shortages on particular workdays.

What is a time off request policy?

An organization’s employee handbook typically has a section titled “Time Off Request Policy” that outlines the procedures for asking for paid or unpaid time off from work. A company’s rules regarding time off requests should be clearly outlined in an effective time off request policy. Information typically included in common time off request policies include:

How to create a time off request policy

Create a policy that is tailored to the requirements, objectives, and preferences of the organization. To create a successful time off request policy, follow these steps:

1. Determine which days are busiest for the company

Making sure they have enough staff on hand during busy times of the year is one of the main reasons businesses may establish time off policies. For instance, retail businesses might require more staff to work during the holiday season when more people are buying gifts for loved ones. To ensure they meet certain quotas, business offices might ask more employees to put in extra time at the end of the quarter.

Work to identify specific days the business will require more staff to work Determine how many employees youll need on these days. You can then choose whether to restrict the number of employees who can take time off during this timeframe or whether to completely deny any time off requests for this period. List the precise dates in the policy along with the justifications for restricting vacation time and requests on those days. This explains to workers why their request for time off during this time may not be approved.

2. Decide how far in advance employees must request off

How far in advance you’ll allow employees to request time off should be specified clearly. By doing this, department managers are guaranteed sufficient time to prepare for a team member’s absence. The number you specify in the policy may vary depending on the demands of the business, the employee’s level of responsibility, and the number of leave days they request.

For instance, the policy may only require them to request this time off a few days to a week in advance if the employee requests a few days of vacation time and does not have any important tasks due on those days. The policy may stipulate that they must submit their requests for these days off several months in advance if they are asking for a week or two of vacation and have important project deadlines during those times.

3. Outline how many days and how often employees can take time off

Additionally, the policy should specify how many vacation days you’ll give workers. This figure may change depending on the department an employee works in or how long they’ve been employed by the company. For instance, team members who have worked for the business for a while may accrue more vacation days over time. Give specifics on how many days off you’ll let each employee take.

The frequency of employee leave should also be mentioned. Some businesses only permit a few days’ worth of vacation at a time, while others might allow several weeks at once. To assist you in developing this section of the policy, identify the requirements of specific departments or the business as a whole.

4. Provide instructions for how and where employees can submit requests

Write clear instructions and steps for staff to adhere to when submitting requests for time off so that all requests are collected in one location for managers to quickly review and approve. You can refer to all time off requests later and keep track of how many vacation days are left if you have them all in one place. Places you can have employees submit requests include a:

5. Detail your process for overlapping time off requests

Numerous employees might occasionally request time off all at once. You should have a transparent procedure in place to choose who should get time off in order to prevent being short-staffed on these days. Create a system and include it in the policy to ensure that employees are treated fairly during the time off selection process. You can employ the following systems if numerous employees request time off at once:

6. Organize employees requests

You should establish an organized process for where these requests are being stored and make this information available in the policy to give employees the assurance that you are effectively tracking their vacation days and aren’t misplacing their requests. Several locations where you can save and keep track of an employee’s requests and approved time off days are:

Time off request form template

Create a time off request form that is simple for your staff to complete by using the following template:

Employee Time Off Request


How far in advance should an employee ask for time off?

For most businesses, a lead time of at least two weeks is a good starting point, though you can adjust that to suit your specific requirements. You could also decide to stop accepting requests after a certain date each month.

How do you write a time off policy?

Jaime Lizotte, manager of ComplyRight’s HR and tax compliance solutions, advised Business News Daily to “write a clear description of what paid and unpaid leave is available for employees, including when and how they qualify for leave and how much leave they accrue each week, pay period, month, or year.”

Can my employer deny my request for one day off?

If you are requesting time off while using paid time off (PTO), vacation time, or sick time, your employer may generally refuse your request. In most parts of the United States, paid vacation and sick time are not legally required, so even if you request time off, your employer is typically not required to grant it.

How do you manage time off requests?

6 Ways to Make Managing Time-Off Requests Easier
  1. Encourage Employees to Take Time Off. …
  2. Don’t Judge How People Spend Their Vacation. …
  3. Establish a Clear PTO Policy and Write it Down. …
  4. Consider Making it a Team Exercise. …
  5. Digitize Vacation Requests. …
  6. Automate the Process to Remove Friction.

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