Every time I want to take days off I wrestle with the manner in which I should ask for them. I have PTO days that reset annually.

I guess my battle is when I ask, it feels rude if I say "I'm taking x day(s) off". It sounds like I'm the boss that can come and go and sounds rude and unprofessional. Then if I email my boss saying "can I take X day(s) off?" I feel that I look/sound foolish because my boss might be thinking...well, they are your days.

Advise please. How can I phrase such email?

  • 1
    The answer to this question varies greatly by country and even by region. Please add a location tag!
    – Mars
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 1:50

5 Answers 5


Just because you are entitled to a certain number of days off per year, doesn't necessarily mean that you can take whatever dates you want off. There could be business cosiderations such as unexpected illness among your team or something. So yes, you do usually need some form of agreement from your manager.

I usually just say:

Hey [bossman],

Mind if I take the following dates off work [for a vacation/personal reasons/no reason at all/etc]? X - Y.

Thanks in advance,


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    I do something similar ("I would like to have these dates off work."), but add something like "Please let me know if this is a bad time to take off." That way, it's clear that they can say no and it won't bother me. Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 0:22

If "I'm taking" sound too pushy or rude, and "can I take" sounds to shy or passive, perhaps something like the following is more balanced:

Hello, boss. I need to take X day off. I'm taking this day off because [reasons]. Anything you want to tell me so I'm aware when I get back?

That way it does not sound like you are forcefully imposing your choice over your boss', but it also sounds assertive and with the authority to use the days that legally correspond to you.

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    1) Don't add [reasons]. It's none of boss's business. 2) "I need to" sounds like an emergency, so if boss later finds out that they had to shuffle a bunch of stuff around because you wanted to take pictures with your kitty on Tuesday, when Wednesday was totally fine for picture taking, your boss will probably not be happy.
    – Mars
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 1:46

Speak to your supervisor in person. If you’re concerned about tone and wording, it’s best to take the conversation “afk”.

Be direct in your conversation. Share the specific days you plan to take off and explain how you’re ensuring that your responsibilities will be covered while you are out.

Days off are a benefit to which you are entitled. You should feel free to take days off whenever and however is best for you, so long as you follow company policies (e.g., required notice before vacation days).

Enjoy your time off!

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    I would add the caveat that supervisors might be more willing to discourage taking leave in person than they would be over email. If there's a concern that the leave won't be approved, email might be the better option. It also creates a record of the approval, if that's needed Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 1:27

Where I am, you want to request the day off while making sure that it's a request.

Hello X, I would like to request the day off on Y. (Optional: Does that fit our schedule?)

  • No reasons. None of their business and less likely to say "please do that another day."
    If you must have that day off, you can say "need" or "must" after being rejected.
  • If the date is in the mid-to far future, it's then on the boss to keep that time open.
    *You should still remind them though
  • If the date is soon, then you should give a proper progress report, and if possible, check that it fits with involved parties' schedules beforehand.

As for looking "foolish",
at least in the companies I've been in, PTO required advanced notice and manager approval.
You won't look meek for simply following protocol.


Hey X,

I will be off from Z to Y, is there anything that needs to be done before I head off, let me know.

My personal format is very simple, to the point and makes it very clear that while I am off on those dates if there is something that needs to be prepped before it will be done, just gotta let me know asap.

I don't like the idea of asking permission for taking time off, rather if it's so important that you be working in those days, let the X make the case for it. And of course stay open-minded if it turns out that you may be needed, and your plans allow for it. Flexibility and trust are s a two-way street.

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    Curious, what does your contract/employee handbook say? I don't recall being in a company where it wasn't required that you request (ie get permission) for time off.
    – Mars
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 2:35

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