The free-electron relaxation time is a crucial property to be considered in the design of optical devices, because it determines the dielectric function. Thus, an accurate understanding of this relaxation time is essential for design optimization. Some simulations showed that the relaxation times of Au thin films with thicknesses below 30 nm are different from those of the bulk material. Therefore, we deposited films with four different thicknesses below this value and used near-infrared spectroscopic ellipsometry to show that the relaxation time is dependent on the film thickness. We fitted the ellipsometry spectrum of Au thin films with a thickness and found the imaginary part of the dielectric function of the thin films to vary with the film thickness in the near-infrared region. Furthermore, different relaxation times were used to simulate the reflectance of a Fabry–Pérot absorber and a plasmonic metamaterial absorber. The simulation results indicated that the obtained relaxation time enables a more reliable evaluation of optical device design.