Global HR 8 min

How to create a time off request policy that's effective for employees and employers

Written by Barbara Matthews
July 11, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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As an HR manager, it’s important to balance your employees’ needs for time off and your company's operational requirements. And if you have remote team members who live in different timezones, it may be especially hard to coordinate time off.

In this article, we'll discuss time off request policies, how to create them, and what to consider when you have a remote team. We'll also share a template you can use for time off requests.

What is a time off request policy?

A time off request policy is a set of rules and procedures that outline how employees can request time off. It includes details like how far in advance employees need to make their requests, the process for submitting requests, and how requests are approved or denied. 

A time off policy also has specific rules or limitations related to each type of leave. This includes details like calculating time off, requirements for providing documentation, and guidelines on whether employees can carry over time off to the following year.

Employees have various types of time off available, including vacation days, personal days, and sick leave. For example, the average number of sick leave days given after one year of service in the US is seven days in private industries.

Ultimately, a time off policy helps you make sure that time off allowances are consistent and fair across your organization.

Tips for creating a time off request policy that keeps both employers and employees happy 

62% of employees feel that having a job that offers paid time off for vacations, regular doctor appointments, or minor illnesses is very important.

Finding a time off request policy that works for both employers and employees means balancing what your business needs with the well-being and satisfaction of your workers. 

Here are some tips for creating a time off request policy that keeps both employers and employees happy.

Set up rules around time off requests

Set clear rules for your employees’ time off, like how early employees need to submit their requests, how managers should handle overlapping requests, and any restrictions or blackout dates.

You can also encourage your employees to give you feedback on the time off request process to help you find ways to improve it.

Have proper submission guidelines

Outline the process for employees to follow when requesting time off. For example, employees can request time off through a form, an HR platform, or an email.

You can also provide a rundown of what each staff member needs to include in their time off requests. This information can include dates, the reason for the request, and any supporting documentation. 

If you want to standardize and automate your employees' data entry process, consider using a template within your current HR platform.

Create a system for handling overlapping requests

Imagine a scenario where employees can ask for time off well in advance, especially during popular leave times. This makes it easier for the HR team to review and settle any overlapping requests.

You could define a system for resolving time off conflicts based on:

  • Staffing

  • The reason for the request

  • The number of prior requests

Suppose multiple employees ask for the same days off. In that case, you might want to consider creative solutions, like using timezone differences to minimize overlapping vacancies.

Designate backup employees to handle emergencies

It's essential to have backup employees on hand for when key personnel are on leave. Team members can help fill in when there are many requests for time off or when other team members are unavailable.

A backup system can also encourage employees to learn new skills and cross-train, which helps build a flexible workforce.

Consider employees who don't request any time off 

Not only should your team members take leave to meet minimum leave requirements, but to stay healthy and productive. Encourage your team members to take breaks when they need them to cultivate a supportive work environment.

Regularly check in with employees who don't take leave to make sure they are not overworked. Proactively encouraging your team members to recharge is an effective way to avoid absenteeism.

Incorporate technology for time off requests

To automate the process of requesting, approving, and tracking time off, consider using an HR platform. Your system should help you be clear on time off schedules for all your employees.

For example, Remote HR Management offers an employee self-service portal that allows your staff to submit vacation requests, see their remaining vacation balances, and track the progress of their requests. This lessens the amount of paperwork managers have to review.

You can also opt for tools that easily integrate your time off calendar with other calendars, like Google Calendar. Consider using a system that can generate reports on time off trends, as this can be useful for future resource planning.

Time off request form template

Having a standardized time off request form helps companies maintain a clear record of leave, and stay compliant under local laws. It's also easier for managers to review and quickly approve requests.

Here are some key information you want to include in a time off request form.

  • Employee name

  • Date of the request

  • Employee title or position

  • Employee team (if applicable)

  • Time off request range

  • Reason for time off

  • Approval/denial confirmation and reasoning

A standardized template helps you simplify the process for approving and managing time off requests.

Time off requests and policies for remote and international teams

No matter where your employees work, a well-crafted time off policy helps you stay compliant under local regulations. Let's take a look at points you should consider on time off requests and policies for remote and international teams.

Define expectations around time off with your remote team

Draft a detailed policy outlining the process employees can use to request time off, as well as any limitations or restrictions.

You can make sure that everyone on your team is familiar with your time off policy by either including it in the employee handbook or discussing it during the onboarding process.

How to handle time off requests for remote employees

Be aware of region-specific holidays or days off

When managing a diverse team, it's important to be aware of region-specific holidays and days off. Remember to be respectful of different cultures and honor your employees' expectations on days off for special holidays.

Incorporate attendance and vacation trackers

Consider using a centralized HR system to smoothly handle requests for time off. For example, an attendance and vacation tracker can give managers a birds eye view on their team's future time-off plans. Plus, with a shared calendar tool, all of your team members can have clarity on who will be away from work.

Manage your time off request policies with Remote

Most labor laws specify minimum requirements for time off, including paid vacation, sick leave, and parental leave. Having a policy in place helps companies remain compliant with these rules, which lowers the risk of legal problems and fines.

A time off policy helps HR professionals plan for employees' absences, which, in turn, helps them better manage their schedules and workloads.

With Remote HR Management, you can easily consolidate all of your team's time off data, even if your team is globally distributed. If you’re curious about how Remote can help you better manage your employees’ time off, chat with us today.

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