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How to write a holiday request letter

Updated April 17, 2017

Summer holidays, or a long weekend with family and friends, even out the work-life balance and help to prevent stress and burnout. In a poll conducted among its members in 2003, the Trades Union Congress discovered that British workers put in the most work hours across Europe, leading to stress, burnout and depressive illnesses. Make sure you take your full complement of holiday, and apply for it within legally required guidelines.

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Requesting annual leave

  1. Plan your holiday dates in advance so that you comply with the legal requirement for sufficient notice. The website Personnel Today explains the rulings of the The Working Time Regulations 1998 that say you should give at least twice the number of days' notice of the length of your holiday. For example, if you have a five-day week job and are booking two weeks' leave, i.e. 10 working days, you should give 20 days' notice. Your weekly days off entitlement do not need to be included.

  2. Check your remaining holiday allowance, either by contacting your human resources or personnel department, or by looking at your personal leave chart if you maintain one. Every full-time employee is due 5.6 weeks annual leave, unless the hours fall outside the company's usual contracted hours.

  3. Talk to the person responsible for office administration, to check that the dates will not cause understaffing.

  4. Draft a letter to the person responsible for granting leave, setting out the number of days you have remaining and the number of days you would like to request. Give the date of the start of your holiday and the date that you intend returning to work. Your company might have a holiday request template you should use instead of a letter.

  5. Send the completed letter or form to the relevant person either as a hard copy or as an email, depending on your company's policy, retaining a copy for your own files. Once the holiday has been authorised, add the dates to your electronic or desk diary and inform anyone who needs to know, such as reception, and any contacts or clients.

Extra or unpaid leave

  1. Talk to your manager or supervisor if you need to request leave for which you have no remaining days of holiday entitlement. In an emergency you might arrange that someone covers for you in your absence, and that you will return the favour in a similar situation.

  2. Offer to take the days as unpaid leave. This alternative strategy shows you are willing to compromise, if extra paid leave is not granted and your leave is urgent or important enough.

  3. Draft a letter to the person responsible for granting extra leave, giving the dates of commencement and return to work. Include any agreements or arrangements you have reached with your manager.

  4. Tip

    Compassionate leave is covered by the Employment Relations Act 1999 and should be treated as entirely separate from holiday entitlement.

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Things You'll Need

  • Work schedule
  • Contract

About the Author

Veronica James has been writing since 1985. Her first career was as a specialty-trained theater sister responsible for running routine and emergency operating theaters, as well as teaching medical/nursing students. James's creative and commercial writing has appeared online, in print and on BBC radio. She graduated with an honors Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of North London.

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