How to write a memo to my boss to request time off

Updated April 17, 2017

Depending on the size and atmosphere of your workplace, requesting time off from work can be as simple as filling out an online form or as complicated as pleading your case to your boss. Managers of smaller companies may be less inclined to approve vacation request, since a smaller staff means fewer employees to cover your workload in your absence. But wording a time-off request memo properly can be just the trick to convince your boss to allow the vacation time.

Consult the employee handbook for company-specific procedures. Employee handbooks often delineate to whom a time-off request memo should be addressed (e.g. immediate supervisor, human resources manager, etc.) and how far in advance of the vacation an employee is required to deliver his request. Additionally, handbooks may include instructions on submitting requests electronically or debiting accrued vacation time.

Consult the staff schedule. If your workplace operates in shifts, it may be simpler to swap shifts with a fellow employee, rather than use vacation days for time off. Swapping schedules also reduces the amount of work your boss has to do to fill your absence, and presenting her with a clear plan may increase the likelihood she'll grant your request.

Write a time-off request memo by hand or word processor on company stationery. If your boss communicates better via e-mail, send an e-mail. Include in your request the date and day vacation starts; date you'll be back at work; total number of days off requested; number of vacation days you have before the request; and number of days you'll have after request. Close your memo with thanks and a request for a follow up response.

Follow up verbally to ensure boss has received and is considering request.


Always keep written time-off requests and approval memos in your records in case there is any conflict over the dates granted or the number of remaining vacation days you have. It's not necessary to include what you plan to do with the time off time off, but can be helpful to include simple reasons like "birthday," "vacation" or "family." Just be sure not to provide inappropriate information (e.g. "vacation request for a romantic weekend with my girlfriend").


If sending time-off request via e-mail, be sure not to attach a read receipt. People often find these off-putting. Instead, write in the body of the email that you would like a response, or verbally follow up to confirm receipt of the email. Special procedures for Family Medical Leave Act requests are set by the federal government. Consult your human resources department for information on requests of this nature.

Things You'll Need

  • Employee handbook
  • Staff schedule
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About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Williams has been a journalist since 2000. She has been published in "The Georgetowner," "The Washington Times" and scholastic papers, among other outlets. Williams studied government and English at Georgetown University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. She is currently seeking a graduate degree in film and television and is expanding her writing to include fiction and scripts.