Preparing for the birth of your baby is an exciting but stressful time – especially if it’s your first child. You’ll need to make sure you’re fully prepared for the arrival of your little bean. But first things first, you need to get your time off work approved to ensure you’re covered by your statutory pay while you’re on leave – and have a job to go back to.
Maternity leave will give you the time to recover from childbirth and bond with your little one before you’re thrown back into the real world as a working mum. But in order to get your full maternity allowance, you need to put all the details in writing.
This guide will walk you through the steps of preparing a professional maternity leave letter, with some useful samples.
Structuring Your Letter
Official requests in the workplace need to be put in writing and formatted correctly. These tips below will help you deliver your message in a professional manner.
- Sender’s address: Start your letter with your address in the left-hand corner of the page. In the US, it’s acceptable to have this address in the right-hand corner. (Skip this step if you’re going to send your notice via email.)
- Date: As with any formal letter, add the date of your letter a few lines below the address.
- Subject line: Keep the subject of your email short and to the point. It could be something like: ‘Maternity Leave Request’.
- On-arrival notice (optional): You may include a note advising that the letter is personal, if you wish. Make sure you use uppercase for this, eg: ‘PERSONAL’ or ‘CONFIDENTIAL’.
- Inside address: Your company’s address should appear a few lines below the above. You can skip this if you’re sending an email.
- Salutation: As with any professional letter, you need to open with the correct formal salutation. Even if you’re best buds with your boss, you need to address him properly, eg: ‘Dear Calvin’.
- Opening paragraph: This is where you should advise what the purpose of the letter is for and how long you plan to be away during your maternity period. Do you want to take the full allowance or just part of it? You will also need to specify the dates you will be leaving and returning to work, as well as the date your baby is due.
- Body: In the letter’s body, you should specify how you plan on covering your projects while you’re out of action.
- Final paragraph: in this paragraph, you can state how you plan on returning to work; you should also provide your personal contact details for when you are on your maternity leave.
- Closing: It’s important to close your letter by showing appreciation for your job and thanking your employer for their understanding during this important period of your life.
- Your name and signature: If you’re giving your employer a printed letter, opt for a handwritten signature. If you’re sending an email, simply write your name.
Tips for Writing Your Letter
- Emphasise your excitement to re-enter the workforce: Although you’re probably thrilled to have a change of scenery for at least 12 weeks, do not let your employer catch wind. It’s important to stress how you will be looking forward to returning to the office once you’ve settled in at home with your baby.
- If you’re unsure, request the maximum amount of leave: It can be hard to tell how much time you will need off work after you’ve delivered your baby. With postnatal depression being common among first-time mums, you might not feel up to returning to work just a month after giving birth. As such, it’s best to request the maximum time of absence you’re entitled to – you can always change this later down the line if you feel ready to return to the office before your entitlement is over.
- Hand in your letter ASAP: It’s advisable to hand in your maternity leave letter as soon as you have the all-clear from your midwife that you’re in your pregnancy’s safe period (this is usually after three months have passed). By law, you should tell your employer that you are pregnant no later than 15 weeks before your baby is due.
- Be sure to have all the correct paperwork: In addition to your formal letter, you will also need a maternity certificate from your doctor (MAT B1) confirming your pregnancy and your due date. This is usually given after you’ve reached 21 weeks of pregnancy.
Printed Letter Sample
This sample letter can be used for an employee who is planning on taking the full maternity allowance. Of course, it can be tweaked to fit your specific circumstances.
Pregnancies are often unexpected, and a few mothers seem to experience pregnancy difficulties that force them to take their maternity leave sooner than expected. The following email template can help you inform your manager and HR department about these kinds of situations.
Things to Remember
- Request a gradual return: Going back to work after spending a long period at home with your newborn baby can be challenging. To help you ease back into working life, ask your employer if you can have a flexible schedule or if you can work reduced hours for the first month until you get back into the swing of things.
- Speak to your HR department: It’s wise to contact your HR department in the weeks and months leading up to your maternity leave. They will be able to advise on healthcare, childcare and any additional benefits the company offers.
- Make recommendations on your replacement: Leaving your duties in the hands of another employer can be scary – especially if it’s someone that you don’t know or trust. If you think your tasks can be handled by your colleagues, propose this to your manager. Alternatively, if you know someone that can be a good match in your absence, suggest this scenario to your boss.
Asking for maternity leave can be stressful, especially if you are quite new to the team. However, as a mother and a working woman, you’re entitled to this allowance. By following the right procedure, a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders, knowing that your leave has been accepted without affecting the future of your career.
Have you recently asked for maternity leave? If so, let us know how you went about submitting your application in the comments section below…