How to Request Time Off for Vacation (+ Email Examples) [2020]

vacation request email

Employees are required to submit a time-off request with an employer. The reason for the time off from work could be for a vacation, marriage, or simply needing a day of rest. Employees should learn how to properly request time off, when to do it, how to do it, and what to consider before taking their days off.

Most employers offer at least 14 days of paid leave, paid vacation time, or paid-time-off (PTO). A “PTO request” is when an employee decides they’d like to use their vacation time. This request is usually made in the form of a letter or email to both a manager and the human resources team. The vacation request is logged by the human resources team to mark the used PTO days for that calendar year.

Some employers allow for vacation accrual, which means a certain number of vacation hours each pay period. This is more confusing for an employee to calculate hours available to take a vacation or time off.

Before Requesting Time Off

It’s important to consider how the team and company might be impacted when requesting vacation time. Consider the following:

Look at the company vacation calendar and consider changing vacation time if a coworker or other teammates have vacation time during the same period. Coworker or colleague overlapping requests may cause a lack of employee base. Causing an issue for the company. Consider company objectives and quarterly goals. Consider how the leave request is going to make a supervisor feel if vacation time is requested during the “busy season” or during a major company milestone. Consider the number of vacation days being taken. What happens to the company and its ability to achieve goals if an employee is on leave for two full weeks?

Review the “PTO” Policy

Inside the company handbook or training manual provided by the human resources department during the first days of employment, paid-time-off requests, and the “PTO policy” is covered. Review the handbook before making a request so that the request can be made appropriately.

An employer may have the employee submit a formal request using the time off request form (or vacation request form) provided by the HR department. This would include the reason for time off (like a family vacation) and how much time is being spent on leave.

Sick Leave

“Time off requests” are often confused with a “sick day”. Sick days are usually considered paid or unpaid leave. It may depend on the employer and the sick day policy in the employee handbook. When a sick day is required, it’s important to notify the team leader or “boss” immediately. Some employers may require a doctor’s note when returning to work to prove the person was in fact sick. Though, this is less common than it may seem.

The exception to this is when an employee has to take a medical leave. Medical leave may be handled by the employer differently. Depending on the amount of time required and the severity of the issue.

To submit a sick or medical leave request, speak with a supervisor and determine the appropriate next steps depending on the medical or health issue.

Requesting Vacation Time

To request vacation time, an employee should check to ensure the days they are requesting are not conflicting for the business. Then submit a formal request following the “PTO” policy in the company handbook. Next, the employee should submit an email to their “boss” or manager informing them of the pending request. Be sure to receive approval from the supervisor before taking vacation time. The employee should inform their supervisor or approver of the vacation end date to plan accordingly.

Time Off Request Email

Below are sample emails used to submit a request for vacation time.

Subject line: Vacation request

Hey John —

I was looking to take some time off this summer with the family. I looked through the calendar and noticed a good time would be around August 15th to August 30th. Is there anything coming up for the team that would make this a poor time to take a vacation?

Let me know if that works and I’ll submit my request through HR.

Thanks so much John,
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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