What is a time off request form?

A time off request form is a formal document that employees must submit when needing time off. It is usually seen in a formal time off management process where employees have to inform their absence beforehand and where unannounced absence can become difficult for the business, such as in factory shifts, retail stores, healthcare, etc. 

In such cases, the time off request form is submitted on paper, email, or using time off management software to the supervisor or the manager, giving them the time to plan for the employees’ absence.

Importance of using time off request forms

Having a formal time off request form has multiple benefits, both for the employees and the managers. Companies implement a time off management process to accurately compute the unpaid time off for payroll processing. Further, time off request forms serves in the following ways.

1. Helps in tracking leaves

A systematic approach to managing leaves helps to know who has taken leaves, how often the leaves were taken if they have exhausted their PTOs, how was the team affected due to their frequent absences, and so on. This will help avoid such occurrences and ensure that the payroll processing is done accordingly.

2. Managers can plan better.

Unannounced time offs often leave the managers perplexed. Especially during those busy seasons when it is essential to meet the deadlines and the outcomes. In such cases, placing a time off request in advance helps plan better and ensure that business continues without hassle.

3. Helps with the exit process

Without a time off management system and time off requests, there’s no way to know if the exiting employee has exhausted their paid time off for the given year. This can cause discrepancies while settling their funds when they are leaving, and if left unchecked, can even lead to lawsuits!

Five things to do on introducing employee time off request forms

employee-time-off-request-form employee-time-off-request-form

1. Draft a PTO policy for employees' reference

The process of requesting time off depends on the policy type, the leave type, employee status, etc. For instance, in traditional PTO policy, there are different types of PTO, such as personal time off, sick time off, vacation pay, jury duty leave, etc. 

These numbers can be fixed or could be accrued in fixed intervals every year. Some companies remove these labels and provide a PTO bank at the beginning of the year, giving employees the flexibility to use the time off however they see fit. 

An increasing number of companies are also experimenting with unlimited PTO that removes limits on the number of days and frequency of the time off. Identify the PTO policy that works well for your company. Ensure you also consider the legal compliance around the PTO requirements for part-time and contract employees. 

A PTO policy would work as a handbook for managers, elaborating the process of PTO approval, the deadlines for PTO requests and approvals, policy violations, and documents required. 

 2. Encourage managers to approve as much as possible

Although companies don't need to provide PTO to employees, companies choose to offer PTO mainly because it is a sought-after perk by employees. It helps employees take the necessary rest and time off from work and should be able to enjoy the benefits when they see fit. Employees should not feel anxious while taking the much-needed time off. To help that, encourage managers to approve time off requests as much as possible unless it is necessary to reject them. Train them to offer alternatives wherever possible by trading leaves, offering time off rewards for later use, offering a different shift, and so on. 

Offering too much flexibility may lead employees to exploit the benefit.

3. Do not revoke time off requests if already approved

The purpose of providing time off is to provide a good employee experience. You mustn't ruin the employee’s plan in that quest by rejecting an already approved time off request. Your employees may already have booked their tickets, made reservations, and planned their time off, and a last-minute cancellation would be a huge buzzkill. 

4. Avoid personal questions on time off request form

On receiving time off requests from multiple employees, managers tend to prioritize them based on the reason for time off. However, every employee has a personal life that needs to be respected. 

Asking too many questions around the time off request may lead to a poor experience, discouraging employees from using their time off. It is essential to strike a balance by asking the right questions without making the employees uncomfortable. 

5. Automate time off requests using time off management software

Time off management software can automate the entire process, from placing time off requests till time off tracking. Employees can access their time off policy whenever in question, learn the time off limits, view their team’s calendar, and do much more. 

Managers will be immediately notified whenever there’s a policy violation, enable auto-approval, and be reminded whenever a time off request is nearing the deadline. Advanced time off reports makes it easier to spot the defaulters and ensure smooth payroll processing.

Things to include in your time off request form

An employee time off request form should contain the following information:

1. Name of the employee and their ID number: This will ensure that the time off is granted to the right person and does not cause any error in the time off balance or payroll processing. 

2. Date of requesting time off: This will ensure that the employee meets all the PTO deadlines and helps managers prioritize time off requests in case of multiple requests. 

3. Type of time off: In the case of the traditional time off policy, employees can select the reason for the time off, such as sick time off, jury duty, personal time off and so on. This helps in identifying the reason, at the same time, respecting their personal space. 

4. Time off start and end date: This helps managers plan their work better without burdening their team members. At the same time, it helps to identify if the time off request falls within the limit allotted for a particular time off type or if they’d need unpaid time off. In the case of hourly PTO, provide the number of hours the employee would be unavailable. 

5. Name of the approver(s): These stakeholders will be affected by the employees' absence. 

FAQs on time off request forms