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5 Best Practices for Your Time Off Request Form (+ Free Template)

Taking care of your team’s time off may not seem like a complicated job, but getting the right time off request form is not as easy as you think.

Doing it correctly involves putting together a smooth time off process with clear information and steps around what team members and managers need to do.  

In this blog post, we’ll give you a complete guide of what your time off request form should look like and include the five best practices to support it as well as a free template.

Click here to get your free employee time off request form

What is an employee time off request form?

A time off request form is a document that an employee fills out to request leave from their line manager.

Getting a time off request form right is essential for your business. It will help you plan absences accordingly and make sure it doesn’t disrupt your company’s day-to-day.

Putting together a time off request form may look like a straightforward process, but there are some best practices you should follow to make it as efficient as possible.

1. Make your employee time off request form as straightforward as possible

A time off request form should include all the information you need to record your team member’s leave, but that doesn’t mean it has to be long-winded.  

Here’s what you should think of including when putting together your form:

  • The employee’s name – to know who is taking time off
  • The employee’s line manager – to understand who they report to and who should review their request
  • How long they’re going to be off for – to record their time off allowance
  • When they’re going to be off – to double-check any overlap and make a decision on whether you can accept or deny the request
  • Why they’re going to be off  – you don’t need to ask for details, but having tick boxes with several options such as holiday, sick leave, jury duty, etc. can help with your reporting

That’s pretty much all you need to get started, but you might want to consider adding a line of text stating the request is subject to approval – this is to ensure the employee does not book anything before it’s been approved.

You could also add a note if you need a justification of absence – if your team member is, for example, ill for more than 7 days and needs to provide a fit note. However, it might be better to deal with it case by case as the form will be too long if you start listing all of them.

Also bear in mind that, if some leave types will be deducted from your employee’s allowance, some won’t be. It all depends on what your time off policy currently is.

If you’re still unsure about what the form should look like, you can always download our time off request form template to help.

Click here to get your free employee time off request form

2. Choose the right format for your employee time off request form

Once you know what to include in your form, you’ll have to think about the most appropriate format:

  • Google form – this time off request form solution will automatically fill in a spreadsheet with your team members’ answers
  • Manual form via email – your team members will have to fill in a Word document that they will then send via email to their line manager (with the person responsible for HR in copy)

Regardless of the solution you pick, you will still have to keep a calendar open to check any time off overlaps as well as a holiday and time off tracker to calculate allowance and do reporting.

Once you’ve made a decision on what works best for your business, save the time off request form in a drive or somewhere that’s easy to find with an identifiable name such as “Time off request form for team members”.

Explain the process to all team members, and make sure it’s clear to everyone – you might want to centralise this information in productivity software such as Notion and get new starters up to speed in their onboarding process.

3. Set out a smooth process and review the time off requests regularly

Bear in mind that one of the most time-consuming aspects of managing time off is how long it actually takes to review the time off requests.

You should therefore have a clear idea of what your process should look like:

  1. Receive the request and review it
  2. Check the calendar to make sure there’s no overlapping time off with another team member
  3. Accept the request and immediately record it on a calendar and/or a spreadsheet so you get the right time off allowance for employees
  4. If you deny the request, make sure you let the employee know why
  5. If you receive a cancellation or amendment request, go through the process all over again

All of this involves a lot of back and forth, takes a lot of your time and leaves a lot of room for mistakes.

With software like CharlieHR, you could reduce the time spent on time off requests by half. Your time off requests can be reviewed in one click, and any time off overlap is automatically flagged.

Screenshot of overlapping time off being flagged by CharlieHR software

Your team members can amend or cancel requests as they please, with time off allowance being calculated accordingly.

Screenshot of time off request allowance being set back in CharlieHR software

Maybe it's time to have a look and sign up for a 14-day free trial with CharlieHR today.

4. Set rules around time off requests and build the right policy for it

Having a process and a time off request form in place is a great start, but you also have to think about setting rules – whether that’s restrictions around certain dates or limits on how many people can be off at the same time.

That’s where putting a policy together in your company handbook will help you take all aspects into account and make sure you remain fair to everyone. Here’s what you could think about including:

  • How many team members can be off at the same time
  • How much notice team members should give before they book time off
  • How many days of holidays they can take in a row
  • What kind of absences are authorised and whether they’re paid or not
  • When time off is restricted because of business requirements (for example peak time such as Black Friday in retail)  

The list is long, and this is just a small overview of what you can think of, but remember one thing: make it specific to your business.

If you’re not sure how to go about it, it might be a good idea to ask an HR expert for help. At Charlie, our team can tailor a time off policy specifically for your business so you don’t leave any detail behind.

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5. Make sure your employees request enough time off

In the new world of work, your team members expect you to do more than simply have a time off policy.

Looking after your team’s mental health is one of your responsibilities and you should encourage them to take time off when it’s due.  

It can be very effective to reinforce that message to avoid burnout and could be really beneficial for your business, but it can be a difficult area to track.

With CharlieHR, you could look after your team’s wellbeing by getting intelligent notifications whenever someone hasn’t taken a holiday in a while.

Click here to sign up for a 14 day free trial with CharlieHR

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