A young professional asks us about taking time off in the summer:

This is my first full-time job after college and I’m not sure what the proper etiquette is for asking for time off. I work in a large office and lots of people in my department have booked in their vacations already.  I have a family holiday planned for August for one week, have I left it too late to ask? I come from a background of shift work where you were fine to take holidays when you wanted as long as you had your shifts covered. But I’m guessing the same doesn’t apply here…

We asked Rachel Kenny from our Vancouver office for her advice on the topic. As a Senior Recruitment Consultant for our TempsAhead division, Rachel deals with holiday coverages and vacation planning on a weekly basis. 

Here is what she had to say:

It’s June. The sun is peeping through the clouds, and all the holiday days that you have been saving up over the rainy winter are looking more enticing right now!

The biggest thing about booking a holiday, is to make sure that you have it approved by your Manager prior to handing over the deposit for accommodation or paying for your flights. A lot of people find this to be a daunting task, but it shouldn’t be. Let’s cover a few topics to remember when asking for time off.

When is the best time to ask?

Even though companies provide a certain number of days to take a break and regenerate, there may be certain “black out” periods for vacation days depending on the industry that you work in. The first thing that I would suggest is to do your research; check the employee handbook to see if there are periods of time that days will not be approved, and assess if there would be a possibility for flexibility should you not have flexibility for your specific request.

Give your Manager enough notice

Although life can sometimes throw you and things can come up last minute, in most situations it’s courtesy to give your Manager enough notice to plan for your absence.

There would be nothing worse than a Manager getting a request on a Friday afternoon for the Monday off. Yes, there are some office environments that would find this acceptable, but a week’s notice would give enough time to organise coverage, and to allocate tasks to other team members. In general, the longer your vacation request, the more advance notice you should give, and the greater your chances for getting it approved! For example, if you were to take three weeks off, you’d want to approach your Manager a couple of months in advance.


When asking for time off, don’t presume that your Manager will find someone to cover your work. Check to see if there is another team member that will look after your day to day tasks during the time that you need off. If there is the possibility to work up some overtime leading to the time off, then this could be an option too. Another option is for your Manager to get a temp in to cover your tasks, or to alleviate the workload with some administrative support to other team members and minimize the disruption.

Colleagues already off?

If you have a large team, there may be the chance that a colleague is off at the same time you’d like to request. If this is the case, it may be a problem should it be a busy period; however, do not shy away from asking. Address it with your Manager and they will be able to assess if the team can manage the workload with more than one member off at a certain amount of time.

Finally… make sure you say thanks to your Manager and team for their support while you are away. I always try to bring some Irish chocolate back when I take a trip home. I must say, it goes down a treat!



Rachel hails from Ireland and arrived in Vancouver in 2010. She has a BA in Economics and Sociology and went on to achieve a Masters in Business Management. Rachel launched her career in Ireland where she gained experience in finance and administration while working in the banking sector. Her love of travel led her to pursue a career abroad to gain international experience. She often worked as a temp during her travelling days and really understands what clients need from a successful temp. Taking this onboard, Rachel helped launch the TempsAhead division and has built strong and lasting relationships with clients and candidates alike.