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  1. Blog
  2. Negotiating
  3. December 2, 2019 (Updated June 3, 2022)

How to Ask for Time Off Before Starting a New Job

When life happens

woman on phone and computer sending an email asking for time off

It can feel uncomfortable to ask for time off before starting a new job. You don’t want to look like you’re pulling a fast one or slacking off on the job, but life happens.

It's completely okay to ask for time off before you start - and even negotiate your start date from what they propose. It's also okay to keep scheduled plans just because you're switching jobs. No need to RSVP "no" to your friend's wedding or cancel the vacation. 

Here's what to do when you need time off before or just after starting a new job. 

Ask for the time off as soon as possible

It can be tempting to wait until you start your new job to ask for time off, especially if it’s within the timeline outlined by your company’s guidelines. But as a rule of thumb, it’s better to let them know as early as possible.

You can let them know you need the time off when you accept the job offer or after you receive confirmation of your acceptance.

This allows your new employer to plan in advance or adjust their normal training schedule. Your supervisor will likely understand; everybody needs time off for big life events, and those events don’t always align with a hiring calendar.

Read more:What to Say to a Mansplainer in the Office

Tell, don’t ask

It’s better to tell your new boss you’ll be taking the time off than it is to “ask” if it’s okay for you to take the time off.

Susan,

I am excited to accept the position of content writer with the start date of January 12. I’d like to let you know up front that I will be requiring time off January 28–31 for a previously scheduled vacation.

Thanks,

Jane

Give only as much information as you want them to have

How much information do you have to provide your new boss about why you need time off? You should give only as much information you feel comfortable with your new boss and coworkers having.

If you don’t want to let them know that you need a couple of days off because you’re having a boil lanced, then you don’t have to. You can simply say, I’ll be taking off January 20 and 21 for a medical procedure.

Asking for time off for last-minute emergencies

Unfortunately, emergencies happen. And, as emergencies go, they occur at the most inconvenient times. It’s considered a norm to not take time off in your first few months at a new job, but if a family emergency or funeral comes up, you will have to take some time off.

An emergency can also mean pushing your start date back. That’s okay—life happens. You’re not the first to be in this situation.

A company that values its employees will understand that you are a human with a life outside of work. And sometimes that outside-of-work life means you have to take time off to fulfill obligations.

Read more:Dealing with Grief Through Bereavement Leave: What It Is & How to Ask for It

Explain the situation, offer to help out with the work that you can, and, if possible, let them know when you will be back in the office.

Be sure to give yourself a little wiggle room for travel delays or unexpected changes.

Hi Susan,

I apologize for the short notice, but due to a family emergency, I will be going home to San Diego tomorrow and I need to postpone my start date.

I plan to be back in Baltimore by January 14 and can start work on January 15, but I will let you know as soon as possible if my plans change. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thanks for your understanding.

Thanks,

Jane

Read more:How to Write a Professional Development Plan & Why You Should

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