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How to Write the Perfect Release Request Email

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The average U.S. employee receives 11 days of paid vacation per year. Whether you work in a small company with 10 employees or a multinational corporation with thousands of employees, you can easily imagine how tedious coordinating vacation requests can be for HR managers.

It's important for you as an employee to provide HR with the information they need to quickly approve and ensure your team can cover the most important areas. Before you take time off, consider how to write a professional vacation request that keeps everyone involved informed.

With a little planning, you can ensure work doesn't pile up on your desk - or in your head - while you're away.

IceHrm makes applying, approving, and accruing PTO easy for thousands of companies across all industries. In this article, you'll learn what to say in a vacation request email, how to communicate unexpected changes, and ways to make returning to work after vacation less stressful.

How to write an email requesting an exemption

Writing an email to request time off doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure you clearly state what your manager needs to know and use a subject line that won't get lost in the shuffle.

An HR manager expects these communications to contain specific details that will help them decide whether to approve the request, as well as important information that will help others prepare for the employee's absence. This includes the dates of your absence, the reason for the request and the measures you are taking to keep projects on track. Here is an example:

Subject: Leave request for [date]

Hello [name of supervisor],

I would like to request paid vacation for the period from [start date] to [end date] because [reason].

There are no urgent appointments for my team during this time. I would be happy to discuss further details or answer your questions.

Thank you for considering my request.

Best regards,

[your name]

3 Ways to Prepare for PTO

Preparing for an upcoming trip isn't just about making reservations and deciding what to pack - your team needs to prepare, too. Here are a few important things to do in the week or two before you leave:

1.Delegate projects to your team

Even if you're genuinely interested in your work or a project, being the only one who knows how to do certain tasks isn't good for a company, and it can be difficult to take time off. Instead of doing everything yourself, find out what tasks others can do and find employees to take on those tasks.

Consider asking your boss to take on sensitive tasks that you can't delegate, and ask your coworkers if they're willing to keep an eye on other tasks while you're away. Your temporary absence from the office can be the perfect opportunity for cross-training. Additionally, returning to work after a break may be less overwhelming if your workload doesn't stagnate while you're away.

2.Create a handover protocol

On the morning of your last day, create a document to send to your managers and team members that includes the following information:

  • Your current and most recent projects
  • Status updates for all current projects
  • Who will be responsible for your tasks while you are away
  • Contact information for questions or emergencies

This step serves as a final reminder that you will be away and allows staff enough time to check before you leave. The additional transparency this protocol brings puts everyone at ease and helps you review progress efficiently when you return.

3.Set up an automatic email response

Letting your employees know how long you will be away and who they can contact in an emergency will save you (and those who email you) a lot of frustration. This is where an automatic out-of-office (OOO) message comes in very handy.

Make sure your auto-reply message contains the necessary information about your absence and your return, including

  • Date of absence
  • Contact person(s) for emergencies
  • Date and time of return
  • When can we expect an answer?

This step helps the person emailing you assess whether they should wait for your response or ask someone else for help.

Notification of last minute PTO changes

There may be times when you return to work earlier or later than originally planned due to unforeseen delays, cancellations or emergencies. In this case, you should inform your supervisor and colleagues about your return to work in a letter.

If you need to extend your vacation, it is important that you remain professional. Below are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Inform your employer as soon as possible.
  • Review relevant company policies and take necessary action.
  • Inform your team and ensure project coverage.

Most employers understand the need to extend vacation due to situations beyond your control, such as: E.g. a medical emergency or a grounded aircraft during a storm. However, be aware that your employer may have a problem with you not returning on time due to your own negligence (e.g. missing a flight because you woke up late).

Below are two sample emails you can send to work after your vacation. One is for an earlier return to work, the other for a later return. Be sure to tailor the details in both templates to suit your company, its culture, your role and the circumstances of your vacation.

How to write a letter to return to work if you arrive early?

Topic: PTO update

Dear [name of supervisor],

I hope you are doing well. As you know, I have been on vacation in [location] for the last [days]. The break from work was very relaxing and I enjoyed spending time with my family.

Although I still have [time left] for my planned time off, I have decided to come back to work today [day] for [reason]. For this reason, I would like to request an adjustment to my official PTO calculation. Please let me know if I need to take any further steps to ensure my available free time reflects this change.

I'm looking forward to being fully operational again!

Thank you,

[your name]

How to write a letter to return to work if you arrive late?

Topic: PTO renewal

Dear [name of supervisor],

I hope you are doing well. As you know, I have been on vacation in [location] for the last [days]. Unfortunately, [reason for late arrival] delays my return home and work, so I have to stay here for another [period].

I plan to come back to work on [date]. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause me. Please let me know if you need anything else from me. You can reach me by email or by phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Thank you,

[your name]

Tips for returning to work after vacation

Don't let the thought of catching up on missed work ruin your well-deserved break. Instead, take some time to get back into the routine of work. Here are some tips for returning to work after a leave of absence:

Plan a buffer day

When planning your vacation, plan an extra day to work through your personal backlog. Whether you need time to shop for groceries, do laundry, get the kids back into the routine, or just sleep off jet lag, a buffer day can help you settle back into everyday life. It can also serve as travel insurance for unexpected delays.

Additionally, don't schedule meetings on your first day back or let coworkers distract you from your priorities. Instead, pretend you're not in the office yet and give yourself time to catch up on your projects (and your overflowing inbox) before diving back into everyday life.

Set sensible priorities

Instead of trying to catch up on missed work all at once, create a list of priorities and work through them one at a time. This way, you can set reasonable expectations with your colleagues about your productivity and the timeline of projects after time off.

Back to business with grace

Managing time off and returning to work is a professional skill every employee should learn, but email alone isn't always a reliable way to manage PTO. Using comprehensive HR software that accurately tracks time off requests and provides transparency into scheduling can help keep everyone involved on the same page - especially when unforeseen events arise.

Finally, effective time off management can help strengthen relationships with your employees and give you the opportunity to relax and get some much-needed rest.

Incorporate effective time-off practices to foster productivity and employee well-being. Explore how IceHrm streamlines HR processes for smoother operations.

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