Taking Time Off 101

December 11th, 2015

Sometimes taking time off work is necessary for one’s own mental health. It can be very beneficial to take some time to get yourself back to a balanced mental state. This doesn’t mean that you need to be stressed out or have an unstable mental state to take time off; sometimes you just need time to spend with family or friends, as this is also important for a healthy lifestyle. There are various terms used for periods of time off:

Sabbatical – leave/rest from work granted to employee for study or travel; traditionally after an extended period of time worked. Sabbaticals generally last longer than two months.

Leave of absence – time when one has permission to be absent from work or from duty while maintaining the status of employee. This form has various classifications like paid leave or unpaid leave.

Vacation – also known as a holiday – is a leave of absence from a regular occupation for the general purpose of travel. Most often vacations don’t last longer than 2 weeks.

Taking extended time off work can be tricky. It’s kind of like navigating your way through a haunted maze, you never know what may pop up before, or during your leave.

I have learned a few things when it comes to asking for an extended time away from my desk:

1) You can’t just ask for a vacation/leave/sabbatical and expect to get it.

2) Don’t ask for time off before you even have a plan in place.

3) That being said, make sure you have a solid attack plan in place before asking for time off (i.e., who can cover your desk while you’re out, how you plan on training people to take on your duties, etc.,)

4) Keep in mind that you will need to discuss paid time off vs. taking a leave of absence.

5) Ask. Be straightforward, polite, and gracious for whatever answer is given to you.

When asking for paid time off, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before going into your boss’ office. How much of your leave do you expect to get paid for? If you have vacation time and sick days use them, if you have to sacrifice a few days unpaid and can afford to do so, then use that too. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to spread the company and your co-workers too thin, they aren’t just covering your desk, they have their own jobs as well.

If you do get the time off approved, make sure you do everything you can to make your co-workers and boss’ life easier while you’re away. If this means gift cards for coffee or lunch, don’t hesitate, just do it. Also, make manuals, step by step processes for special occasions, and daily work tasks for your co-worker(s) so that they’ll know exactly what needs to be done and when. This way, you can also ensure that they have a place to go to if you cannot be reached. While training, make sure you are including everyone on a full week cycle of your desk. Also have them be “you” for a couple of days so that they can understand exactly how to take care of certain issues that may occur.

As long as you keep communication flowing there should be no issue while you’re away!

– Molly McLaughlin, Onboarding Specialist

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