How to Write a Maternity Leave Email to Colleagues
Employees taking parental leave usually face a few administrative tasks to ensure normal workflow before their temporary departure from the organisation. Constructing a well-written parental leave email ensures that colleagues have the information they require to continue their normal working schedule and recognise who to contact in your absence. Understanding how to create a suitable email can help your colleagues maintain normality and ensure a manageable workload when you return to your role. In this article, we discuss parental leave emails and provide step-by-step instructions on how to write a maternity leave email to colleagues with a template and two examples.
What is a maternity leave email to colleagues?
A maternity leave email to colleagues refers to the email sent automatically in your absence while you're on maternity leave. Maternity leave is one type of parental leave offered in Australia, and you might customise your email message depending on the type of leave you take. These emails aim to provide your colleagues with all the information they require while you're out of the organisation. This can include the contact details for them to follow while you're away and when they can expect you to return to the business.
Out-of-office emails are an important part of maintaining professionalism in your absence while allowing your colleagues to retain a sense of normality. This is especially important if you're in a leadership role where colleagues may turn to you for information on tasks, customers or processes. Out-of-office messages are also a convenient way of reducing the requirement to check your email inbox while you're away. With these emails, you can redirect interested parties to a colleague who is familiar with your team or responsibilities and can answer any important questions.
How to write a parental leave email to colleagues
Consider preparing your parental leave message well in advance of your leaving date to account for any unexpected absence or if you begin your leave earlier than planned. Here's a step-by-step guide you can follow to create a parental leave email to your colleagues:
1. Mention the reason for your absence if possible
While there's no obligation to state that you're on parental leave, consider providing your team, customers or clients with a reason for your absence. This can help senders decide whether their query is urgent and motivate them to find another point of contact if they know you won't be returning to the business in the near future. It's unnecessary to go into detail if you decide to mention that you're on parental leave. You can simply state that you're away on parental leave and are not returning to the business for an extended period.
If you choose not to state the reason for your absence, you can advise that you're on extended leave and intend to return to the business at a given date. Providing you give the right information so colleagues can direct their queries elsewhere, you can make your own decision on whether to list your reasoning.
2. Add your return date if known
Typically, when organising your parental leave with your employer, you're given a return date based on the expected due date or adoption date and how much time off you require after the birth or adoption. While it's important to account for unexpected delays, arrivals or any other type of leave, such as for medical requirements, you can include this return date in your email. Including your return date allows your colleagues to plan their time and ensure they follow up on their queries with you when you return to the organisation.
If you're unsure of your exact return date, you can simply provide a general date for when you expect to be back at work, such as a mid-point in the month. You can update this to account for any unexpected delays or changes to your timeline. This also helps your colleagues decide whether they require the help of your point of contact in the meantime.
3. Decide whether to have any involvement in email responses
If you have a long period off before the birth, you might consider occasionally checking in on your email inbox if you have important projects or customers to respond to. Determine whether you'd like to respond to emails up to a certain point or not to respond at all. Doing this can help you direct your colleagues and tell them whether to notify you if their email requires your urgent attention. If you do decide to read your emails, you can advise your colleagues to place an urgent response requirement in the subject line of their message.
Setting these expectations prior to your parental leave allows you to communicate your intentions to your colleagues. From this, your team members know what to do in the event of an urgent query and can either contact you directly or take their query to another person. This can also help you manage your stress and workload when you return from maternity leave.
4. Find a point of contact
One of the most important stages is identifying a point of contact and highlighting this in your maternity leave email. A point of contact refers to the person you direct your colleagues to in your absence. For example, if you have a very large workload or liaise with many professionals daily, you may wish to provide contact details for multiple professionals in your email.
Typically, these professionals are also responsible for completing your tasks while you're away. When you include a point of contact, it's important to notify them prior to setting your auto-reply. This helps your colleague plan for a larger workload. If you're unsure of who to list as a point of contact, consider speaking to your manager, as they are likely to have a clear understanding of your workload and who to delegate this to in your absence.
Parental leave email template
Here is a template you can follow to construct your parental leave email:
[Express your thanks for the sender's email.] [Explain that you're out of the office on extended/parental leave until a certain date.] [Include details of your availability, such as checking your email weekly/monthly/on an ad-hoc basis.] [Explain whether the sender can insert an 'urgent' tag in their email if it requires urgent attention.] [State that you're available to read their email upon your return if it's not urgent.]
[Provide details of who the sender can contact if they require immediate help.] [Include the name, email address, phone number and job title of your point of contact.] [Explain the best contacts if the query is about a specific topic or project.]
Examples of parental leave emails
Here are some examples of parental leave emails:
Here's an example parental leave email:
Thank you for your email. I'm on parental leave, returning to the business mid-May 2023. During this time, I plan to check my emails on a monthly basis for urgent queries or updates on my projects. If your email requires my urgent attention, please include 'URGENT' in the subject line of this email. Otherwise, I look forward to reading your email on my return.
If you require immediate attention, you can contact my colleague Phillip Harper, Head of Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can contact him on 3-9999-9999. If your email is about a product or you require general customer help, please contact our customer helpdesk at email@example.com.
Thanks again for your email,
Here's an example parental leave email that doesn't specifically mention parental leave:
Thanks for your email. I'm currently on extended leave, returning to the business on 2 November 2022. As I'm not monitoring my email inbox during this time, I can respond to your email upon my return.
If you require immediate help, please contact my manager Susan Hopkins, Office Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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