Does my employer have to give me time off for interviews?

In this guide, we will discuss “Does my employer have to give me time off for interviews?” and some considerations on how you could go about asking for time off.

Does my employer have to give me time off for interviews?

The answer to Does my employer have to give me time off for interviews? is not normal and certainly, they are not obliged to.

If your employer does not offer a flexible scheme then they can get into an agreement or negotiate how you can replace the time you will be taking off, however, most employers will probably ask you to take annual leave, if available.

We get it, you are probably bored of doing the same thing or you feel underappreciated, or you have tried getting that promotion but still no positive results.

Now you have a new opportunity that sounds promising, so how do you go about asking for time off for an interview with your current employer?

Yes, we know it can feel awkward or you may feel guilty for having to sneak out to look at your emails or stay as far away from your desk or colleagues so they won’t be able to hear when you have a job-related phone interview.

After going through the selection process you have made it to the interview stage, this is where it gets nerve-wracking and exciting, however, this might be just an option but won’t necessarily end in getting hired.

Let’s take a look at your options.

Taking time off, try to avoid it

This is not always possible but there are some understanding recruiters that may ask you for an interview outside working hours or during your day off.

As mentioned by, “When arranging your interview, there’s no harm in asking whether you can arrange a meeting outside of your working hours. While the recruiter may not be able to accommodate your request, they will respect the fact that you are a committed and reliable employee.”

However, if scheduling the interview before or after work is impossible, there are always other options such as a skype or phone interview to coincide with your lunch break.

Sometimes, you may have to make tough choices but let’s hope the recruiters you have to deal with are very understanding of your current employment and situation.

There is no need to lie

Imagine you lie to your boss and you call in saying you have to attend a family emergency but in the end, they find out you were lying, how does that make you feel?

Terrible! You don’t have to risk yourself unnecessarily.

Although it is up to you in the end and normally, telling your employer you require time off for an interview will not look good.

Try not to pull a “sickie”

This should be considered as a last resort and when nothing else has worked.

Avoid being that person that fakes being sick by coughing a little and putting that croaky voice.

Your employer may be able to see right through your excuse and will know you are lying.

As indicated by “While saying you have a sickness bug may seem like a very simple solution, you have to remember that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll only have to attend one interview during your entire job search. Do you want to tarnish your attendance record? It is also not hard for managers and colleagues to catch you out on this one. You could run into anyone on your way to your interview!”

Excuses you can use to take time off (for an interview)

Yes, we have talked about how lies are not recommended but consider it your last resort if you get a last-minute call for a same day or next-day interview and it is your only chance to win them over and convince them you are the perfect fit for the job. 

This is easier if you have a flexible schedule but if you don’t have much flexibility then try scheduling the interviews either early in the morning or late in the day.

If you have a good relationship with your supervisor or your boss then try doing a swap with a colleague or telling your boss you will come to work earlier or you will leave later on during that day.

Can you ask for a day off?

If you have more than one interview to attend to, you can make sure you schedule all of them on one day by taking a personal day, a day from your annual leave, or sick day.

You don’t have to share specific details with your boss or co-workers about what you are going to do but if they are used to knowing what you do with your time off then you better come up with a good excuse (not too dramatic though).

The advantage of doing this, is that you don’t have to worry about being at the office at a certain time or feeling guilty for missing a few hours of your workday.

If you decided to get a day off from your annual leave time or you have agreed to compensate the time off then you won’t feel as guilty or bad for taking the time off.

If you will call in sick or email, try to use a convincing excuse such as:

  • Taking a sick day.
  • Taking a few hours for personal reasons.
  • Picking a friend who is visiting from another country.
  • Having an emergency car or home repair.
  • Having a plumbing problem.
  • Having a sick relative (i.e. your child, a parent, your spouse).
  • Taking your sick pet to the vet.
  • Having to attend a funeral.
  • Having a doctor’s appointment you forgot about.
  • Getting medical testing or preparing for it.

Are there options for taking time off?

The law gives their employers the right to take time off work under certain circumstances, but you might not be paid (or you may) for this time as we have discussed, however, let’s mention some of those scenarios:

  • Time off for holidays: as an employee in the UK you are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year.
  • Time off for public duties: if you are an employee who needs to take time off because you are involved in some type of public duties (i.e. a magistrate, local councilor, or school governor). You won’t be paid for your time off unless your contract specifies otherwise.
  • Time off for jury service: your employer is not obliged to give you time off for jury service, but they could be subjected to a fine for contempt of court if they refuse to. The best option is to negotiate with your employer.
  • Time off for studying or training: if you are an employee over 18 years, you have the right to ask for unpaid time off for training or study. You will need to show your employer that your qualification is intended to improve your ability to do your job. However, before you ask them, make sure you work somewhere that has more than 250 employees and that you have worked there for more than 26 weeks.
  • Time off to have a baby: if you are expecting a baby or you are adopting, you have extra rights at work. You may be entitled to maternity/paternity leave pay, shared parental leave pay, adoption leave pay, unpaid time off to look after your child, and time off to attend antenatal appointments.
  • Time off for emergencies: if you have unexpected problems or emergencies related to you or close family members you may be entitled to dependant leave. There is no fixed amount of time you can take off as it depends on your situation, for instance, if someone gets ill or injured, someone has died, taking care of a relative who is in the hospital or if you are dealing with an unexpected problem at your child’s school.
  • Time off to visit the doctor/dentist: your employer is not legally obliged to give you time off to visit your doctor or dentist but they could be flexible and allow you to. If your employment contract doesn’t specifically include having time off they can insist you have them outside working hours. 

Why is this blog about Does my employer have to give me time off for interviews important?

It is clear that your employer doesn’t have to give you time off so you can go to interviews, however, they may give you other options either paid or unpaid.

In addition, it is not recommended to tell your employer you need time off because you are on the job hunt looking for another position.

This will give your employer a bad impression, but lying shouldn’t be a choice either.

You may have to resort to making excuses to be able to get time off work but try to negotiate with them and also the recruiters to see if you can get into an arrangement that can benefit both parties. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Does my employer have to give me time off for interviews

Do employers have to let you go to interviews?

You are not normally allowed by your employer to go to interviews unless you have good communication and they give you the tome too, for example, taking annual leave or agreeing to pay the time off later on.

Can I take time off work for interviews?

You can’t take time off work for interviews unless your employer does operate under a flexitime scheme, and will probably ask you to take annual leave time to replace the time you spend on the interviews.

However, if it is an internal vacancy you are applying to they may allow you to take the time off for the interview.

How do you ask for time off for an interview?

If you want to ask for time off for an interview make sure you do everything to avoid needing to take time off, avoid telling lies to your employer since it can be detrimental, try not to pull a sickie if they deny your request, you don’t need to give out too many details and be prepared because probably the best option is to take a day’s holiday.

Can I be fired for interviewing for another job?

You should not get fired for interviewing for another job. In addition, you are not obligated to tell your employer you are having an interview, you can say you are taking a personal day but you don’t actually have to go into detail.

However, in the US your employer can actually fire you if they find out you are interviewing for another job.

Can an employer tell another employer not to hire you?

Your employer should not tell another employer not to hire you, however, if they call in to get references and you were fired, they may get their own conclusions and decide whether or not they should actually hire you.

This solely based on past employment but not just because you had an angry boss or a manager that didn’t like you and gave a negative reference.

References “5 secrets for getting time off work for interviews” “Am I allowed time off to attend a job interview?”

Doyle, A, (2018, Oct.) Excuses You Can Use to Take Time Off for a Job Interview. Retrieved from “Time off work – overview”

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