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Five Ways To Ask Your Boss For Time Off

January 28, 2014

Ancient ruins at HierapolisEven if your job includes paid vacation time, it can be difficult to ask your boss for a day, a weekend, or a longer period of time off. While most bosses are open and understanding and will do their best to accommodate when it comes to taking time off, there are a number of things you can do to make it more likely your request will be granted. Depending on your boss’ personality and attitude towards vacation time, there are a number of approaches that can work. Choose the right approach from these options to get the vacation you really want.

1. Start With Your Successes. When you meet with your boss to request your time off, lead into the conversation with some information about how hard you have been working lately. This approach is best for bosses whose main concern regarding granting time off is that you might fall behind on work. If you start by presenting the proof that you’re on top of things – or even ahead in some areas – your boss may be more likely to allow the vacation knowing that you’ve planned ahead for it with a little extra work. It will also remind your boss that you work hard, and you deserve a break.

2. Plan Ahead and Ask Early. The more notice you give your boss about a planned vacation, the more likely it is you’ll get an approval. Giving your boss enough time allows for someone to be found to fill in for you if necessary and to plan around your absence for any tasks that won’t be completed or need to be completed before you go. Last minute vacation requests may sometimes be approved, but the earlier you ask the better your chances are. Some companies have a rule regarding the amount of notice you’re required to give for a time off request – make sure you check and make your request in accordance with the timing rules.

3. Time Your Request Carefully. When you’re planning to ask for time off, it’s best to watch for the right mood and moment. Asking your boss for vacation time when a vital team member has just quit, for example, is not the best timing. Choose a time and day when things at work are flowing smoothly and your boss doesn’t appear stressed, especially over deadlines, incomplete work, or staffing issues. These things can make it harder for someone in charge to feel comfortable approving a vacation time request.

4. Phrase Your Request Without Demands. When asking for time off, be sure you’re requesting, not demanding. While you may be entitled to the time off, submitting a polite request is much more likely to get a positive answer than making a demand. Ask your boss if you can have the time off rather than announcing that you’re planning to be away. Not only will you be more likely to have the vacation approved, you will also keep a good relationship with your boss, and any co-workers who might also be looking to get a few days off.

5. Request it in Writing. Putting a request in to your boss in an email or through another electronic or written system allows your boss to consider the request without feeling pressured to give an immediate response. Bosses who want to check with colleagues, consult a calendar, or look over your progress before they make a call on time off will appreciate being given a little space to do so. Making your request in writing also makes for a written record of your attempt to get some time off, and the timing within which you made the request. This can help with future requests even if this particular one is not granted.

No matter what your approach to asking for time off, remember that following company policy, asking respectfully and with wise timing, and making sure you’re on top of your responsibilities are always smart choices. Everyone deserves time off, but companies also have to grapple with issues of being short-handed, deadlines, and keeping everyone happy, which can sometimes make getting time off more difficult. Requesting your vacation time the right way will ensure work relationships stay positive and you get the time off you need as well.