As soon as you have a good idea of how long your maternity leave will be and when you'll need to take it, it's important to share this information with your employer. Deliver this exciting news in a written document addressed to your direct supervisor and any other pertinent people in your company, such as your HR manager.
A maternity leave request letter may seem formal but something as important as this should be documented in writing, dated and signed. The details of your leave cannot get lost. Put it to paper.
Head your letter with relevant personal contact information. While on 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.
Other important points you might include in your maternity leave letter are expectations of personal boundaries as you grow into parenthood and suggestions of co-workers versed enough in projects you're currently working on to fill in during your absence. If you're unsure how to compose your letter use our sample below.
Provide the Date You'll Begin 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 leave remember: It's much easier to come back early than it is to ask for more time off. So ask for more time initially. 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.
It's important to be honest with yourself and your supervisor about what you can and cannot accomplish prior to taking leave. Most employees' desks are broken down into short- mid- and long-term projects, so your ability to define these distinctions and outline clearly where you are or will be with each of them, and who among your colleagues might be of the aptest assistance in carrying forward certain projects, is a credit to your professionalism, not a deficit.
Communications During Maternity Leave
Feel free to tailor this part to fit your own needs. It may be best to stay off your work email during leave if at all possible. For some, it's quite easy to get sucked into work. If you're among this demographic, you risk using up precious time with your newborn.
However, if you are comfortable with working while on leave, set clear expectations in your letter. It's unpredictable how much sleep you'll get at first, so it's probably a good idea to set the parameter that you will check in once you're ready to be contacted regularly.
Ask to Discuss Your Transition Back
If you strongly expect that you'll seek to change your work schedule upon your return, you can include this in your leave letter as well. State that once you return you'd like to meet to discuss your schedule options.
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.
Once you have the above details figured out, it's time to write your letter. Feel free to tweak the following sample family leave letter if you'd like:
Maternity Leave Request Letter Sample
This is an example of a maternity leave request letter. Download the maternity leave request letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Maternity Leave Request Letter Sample (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee,
This letter is to inform you that I am pregnant and wish to take maternity leave.
My due date is January 15, 2019. 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 workload 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 which is firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-555-1234. 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.
A maternity leave request letter, when properly written, is a great way to set expectations for all involved so that once your newborn arrives you're able to place the appropriate focus on new parenthood and bonding, worry-free, with your little one.