How to ask your boss for time off

Written by renee price
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How to ask your boss for time off
Cover all your bases when communicating the need for time off with your boss. (boss and secretary image by Valentin Mosichev from

Right up there with asking for a raise, asking your boss for time off presents one of hardest requests to make in the workplace. Every office has its own set of rules in regards to requesting time off from work. Equip yourself with a little knowledge on your office's rules for off days and craft a plan that will make approaching your boss for time off less intimidating and get you the time off you deserve.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Consideration
  • Tenacity
  • Manners

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  1. 1

    Provide a credible reason when asking for time off from work because your boss could possibly investigate your grounds for missing work. Reasons such as a scheduled vacation, or caring for a sick loved one, will usually gain some leverage with your boss.

  2. 2

    Put your request for time off in writing, and date it; this will serve as proof in the case your boss claims to forget you requested time off. If your office uses e-mail or virtual calendars to schedule meetings, work tasks and events, make use of yours to put in your vacation request. Not only will your boss receive your request in real time, but your co-workers will also see your request for time off and adjust any responsibilities on joint projects accordingly.

  3. 3

    Put in your request for time off as soon as you know you have to take time off from work. Sending your request at the last minute could jeopardise getting your time off. Work could really pick up around the date of your planned break, lessening the probability that your boss may grant your request if you don't mention it in advance.

    The time of day you approach your boss about time off could affect your chances of getting a positive answer. According to 'The Great Office Escape', avoid the start of the day when she has the entire work day ahead of her and avoid asking when she appears stressed. Also, asking on a Thursday or Friday when the work week slows down and most of your boss' stressful tasks for the week have passed may provide better results.

  4. 4

    Give your boss some incentive to grant you some time off, making it more difficult to reject your requests. Agree to a solution for your absence ahead of time, such as completing priority tasks ahead of schedule or bartering with co-workers to complete certain tasks during your absence.

  5. 5

    If nothing seems to work and your boss continuously denies you time off from work, you may have to toughen your approach. Advice column Graduated & Clueless suggests telling him the dates of your unavailability and affirming the non-negotiable conditions of your absence. Your boss will have no choice but to give you the time off or penalise you for your boldness.

Tips and warnings

  • If requesting time off at a new job, alert your new boss to the time you need off before you start your new job in order to prevent any friction.
  • If possible, rearrange the time you need off to occur after 90 days at your new job, when your new boss may feel more comfortable granting your request for time off.
  • If your reasons for needing time off from work centre on fatigue or severe stress, supplementing your request for time off with a doctor's recommendation could increase your chances of approval.
  • Playing hardball may earn your boss' respect. However, if you suspect she may not appreciate this approach, exercise caution using this strategy.

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