How To Handle Last-Minute Time off Requests

Jan 25, 2023      Maxim Gubric       Future of Work

Last Minute Timeoff

Last-minute time off requests can be a real pain for any business. Whether it’s an employee needing to take care of a family emergency or recover from a sudden illness, an unexpected absence can mess with your team’s overall productivity.

If you’re not sure how to handle these requests in a fair and efficient way, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

In this post, we’ll go over some strategies for dealing with last-minute time off requests without letting them derail your team. We’ll talk about creating leave policies, alternative solutions, and the importance of effective communication.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to navigate unexpected absences successfully and keep everything running smoothly.

A leave policy that works for you

Leave Policy

Creating a good leave policy can be a bit of a balancing act. On one hand, you want to be fair and accommodating to your employees, but on the other, you also need to make sure your business is running efficiently. If you want both you and your employees happy, try these 4 things:

  1. Be very clear about what is and isn’t allowed. Make sure your employees know exactly what kind of leave is available to them, how much they can take, and under what circumstances.
  2. Offer a variety of leave types. Different employees will have different needs, so it's a good idea to offer a range of options, such as vacation, sick leave, and mental health days.
  3. Try to be understanding if one of your employees requests unexpected time off because of an emergency. It’s better to deal with this on a case-by-case basis so they can be with family and deal with the problem at hand, stress-free.
  4. Don’t make PTO a taboo subject at your company. It’s true that employees need to understand the rules you set out, but they also need to feel it’s okay to use their time off. Otherwise, you risk having a burnt out and demotivated team.

We recommend you use Spock—a feature-packed leave tracking system designed to help you build a leave policy fit for your company. Use it to create custom leave types, import public holiday calendars, and configure allowances for each user.

Alternative solutions

Time off gives employees a chance to breathe and come back to work feeling refreshed.
Time off gives employees a chance to breathe and come back to work feeling refreshed.

Life can throw many things our way, so don’t be surprised when an employee messages you at 4 am to tell you they can’t make it. What does Spock suggest? It’s probably not a good idea to make exceptions unless it’s an emergency, but there are some alternative options.

Your best bet is flexible scheduling. This often involves an agreement where the employee can adjust their work schedule, but is also responsible for catching up in the evenings or the following weekend.

Flexible scheduling is a great option for employees who need to take care of personal responsibilities or appointments during regular working hours.

In the worst case, you can offer the employee unpaid leave. If you’re feeling generous, you can let them exchange a paid sick day for a vacation day. It obviously doesn’t prevent any disruptions caused by the absence, but the company might improve employee retention if you learn to bend the rules a little.

Whatever you choose, the most important thing is you take time to communicate in these situations. Let your team discuss the leave policy with you, ask them how they’d deal with these situations, and fine-tune it all together.

The impact on our company and our product

We’ve developed, a convenient Slack app that helps small and midsize companies with leave tracking through handy features like daily attendance notifications and custom leave types.

Take control of your leave tracking

We designed our app to help you deal with any unexpected absences. If you’re a small to medium-size company, we invite you to try Spock and enjoy advanced features like annual leave carryover, recurring leaves, and CSV exports. You’ll always have a clear view with us.