What You Should Say in Your Maternity Leave Letter
Use and tweak our sample letter
Now that you have a good idea about how long your maternity leave will be it's time to share this information with your employer. Deliver this exciting news in a written document addressed to your boss and any other pertinent people in your company, such as your HR manager.
This letter may seem formal but something as important as this should be put in writing and include your signature. Sure, you could sum this up in a quick email, but you know what happens with email. It gets lost in the shuffle. The details of your maternity leave can't get lost. Put it to paper.
Start by placing your contact information at the top of your letter. It makes your letter good reference material if someone wants to get in touch with you. How often does work call your personal cell or send an email to your personal inbox? Hopefully, not often. And while you're on maternity leave you won't be checking your work phone or email, so give them a quick way to get in touch with you, if needed.
Here are some other important items you could include in your maternity leave letter. If you're unsure how to compose your letter use our sample below.
Give Them the Date You'll Begin Your Leave
In the letter, inform your employer of:
- Your due date
- How many weeks you plan on taking
- When you believe you'd like to start your leave
If you're unsure of how long you will be out on maternity leave remember this. It's much easier for you to come back early than it is for you to ask for more time off. So ask for more time initially. Then later on, if you feel the need to return earlier than expected, you have options.
Provide a Work Load Proposal
Take this opportunity to outline the work you plan on completing prior to your leave, work that you believe you won't be able to complete, and work that will need to be done while you're on leave.
First, tell them what work you will complete by the time you leave. Next, share the details about the work you know you won't finish in time. This isn't because you're not a hard worker. It's because you only have a certain amount of time left and you won't be able to finish everything. There are only so many hours in the day and, yes, you are going through a pregnancy. So be honest about what you can accomplish before you leave.
Last, let them know about the work that needs to be taken care of while you're away. This way there are no surprises. Recommend co-workers who could fill in while you're gone. Or suggest that the company should hire someone temporarily to help out while you're out.
Communications During Pregnancy Leave
Feel free to tailor this part to fit your own needs. It may be best to stay off your work email during maternity leave if at all possible. You know how easy it is to get sucked into work and if this happens you're using up precious time with your newborn.
On the other hand, if you are comfortable with working while on leave set clear expectations in your letter. It's unpredictable how much sleep you'll get while on leave. You could check in once you're ready to be contacted regularly.
Ask to Discuss Your Transition Back
If you feel strongly that you'd like to change your work schedule once you return you can include this in your maternity letter. State that once you return you'd like to meet to discuss your schedule options.
But if you are unsure about changing your schedule don't mention anything quite yet. Who knows how you'll feel once the baby is born. Many unpredictable things can happen in 12 weeks. Be patient and make your choice when the time feels right.
Use and Tweak This Maternity Leave Letter Sample
Once you have the above details figured out tweak the following sample maternity leave letter. Where you see parentheses () insert the appropriate words, number or phrases for your circumstances.
Here's the sample letter:
Dear (employer name),
In this maternity letter, I'll share my due date, maternity leave request, a work load proposal, and how I'd like to stay in touch during my leave.
My due date is (your due date). I would like to continue working until (date or you could state you'll work up until your due date on a work-from-home basis, if possible). I plan to take (number) weeks of maternity leave. I anticipate no problem with resuming my current position and delivering the same high-quality work that I do now.
While I'm on leave I suggest (co-worker's name) be in charge of my workload. (Add other details of your work load proposal here). Please consider this return to work proposal the beginning of a conversation. If you have concerns about anything I've suggested, please inform me so that I have an opportunity to address them.
While I'm on leave please contact me via (email or text messages) which is (email address or cell phone number). This way the baby and I are not disturbed if asleep. (If you plan on working while on leave mention that here).
Please let me know of any information or forms, such as a doctor's note, that you will require from me before or during my maternity leave. I look forward to working with you to ensure a smooth transition to maternity leave and back to work.
If anything changes I'll be sure to inform you as pregnancies can be unpredictable. Thank you for allowing me this time away from the office to bond with my newborn. Please let me know if you have any questions.
This point of this email is to tie up any loose ends that you can predict. It's also a great way to set expectations so that your manager and co-workers know what you're thinking. It's best to get everyone on the same page so that once your newborn is born you can have the maternity leave that you want.
Updated by Elizabeth McGrory