Examples of a Return to Work Letter

Dominique W. Brooks
woman typing with baby

If you're preparing to return to work after a maternity leave, it can help to have some examples of letters you can use to communicate to your employer. Clear communication with employers is an important aspect of success in the workplace, and letters are effective because they offer a tangible record of the correspondences you make regarding your maternity leave. One of the following printable examples may be perfect for your situation.

Special Circumstances for Returning to Work

While the basic return to work letter will work for most circumstances, you may find that you need to make some modifications to your original maternity plans. In that case, you'll need a specific type of return to work letter that fits your situation.

If you need help downloading the printable letter, check out these helpful tips.

Letter for Returning to Work Early

There are several reasons you may need to shorten your original maternity leave. These can include a neonatal death or a change in the situation with the baby (like putting the baby up for adoption). You may also want to return early if your financial situation has changed.

If you're not taking your entire maternity leave, you'll need to notify your employer that you are returning early. This situation may not require a lengthy letter, but you may have to have a conversation with your supervisor to clear the way for your return and explain any details you feel comfortable sharing. You do not need to include your reasons in the letter, unless your human resources department says otherwise. It's also important to be aware of what constitutes sufficient notice for your employer.

Extended Leave Letter

Although many employers are receptive to conversations about getting extra maternity leave, it's important to make your wishes known in writing. This type of leave length change will also require discussion with the supervisor in person or on the phone. You also need to know what your company's leave policies are and how much time you have available to use with pay or without pay.

Be sure to send your letter well before your scheduled maternity leave is over. That way, your employer can plan as needed to cover your absence.

Return to Work with a Schedule Change

Sometimes, you may find that the schedule you agreed upon with your boss prior to your maternity leave will no longer work for you and your family. If you're switching to part-time work, need to work different hours that your typical schedule, or have to make some other alteration to your daily routine, it's important that you document your request in letter form. This example can help.

Send this letter after you discuss your proposed schedule change with your supervisor. You should also have a plan to make this work and not go to your supervisor totally unprepared when requesting a schedule change. Your letter needs to summarize your ideas for making this change convenient for both you and your employer.

Breastfeeding Accommodations

Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work may mean that you need some accommodations. These can include a quiet place to pump milk, scheduled breaks for pumping, and other alterations to your schedule and workplace.

Although your employer should be receptive to these requests, you should make sure your wishes are presented in writing. This example letter is easy to modify according to your own circumstances and will serve as documentation of your requests. You should send this letter early enough prior to your return to work date to allow the company to make arrangements.

Unable to Perform Job Duties Letter

Sometimes, you may not be able to perform all of your original job duties after the birth of your baby. Problems may include lifting heavy objects, sitting for extending periods of time, and other issues. If this is a temporary problem such as needing additional time for c-section incision to heal, you can discuss your modified needs with your supervisor. However, if the problem is longer term, you will need to have a more intensive talk because you may not be able to keep your previous job. Many companies have policies for this outcome.

Regardless, if you plan to keep your current job but can't perform every task, send a detailed letter about the situation. It's best to use this letter as a follow-up to a conversation with your employer.

Enclosures to Include with Your Letter

Some employers may require written consent for return to work from a healthcare provider, depending on the circumstance. It helps to have this documentation in order and ready to mail right along with your intent to return to work correspondence.

You should also include a copy of your original maternity leave letter as an enclosure as well. It probably has been months since the original maternity letter was sent out; having the document available will allow the HR department to remind themselves of the original terms of your leave.

Tips for Crafting the Best Letter

While these letters do not have to be very long, it is important to make sure that they are clear and accurately reflect your situation. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make sure the letter is necessary for your company. Some companies accept an email while others may want something on letterhead.
  • Check with other moms at the company to get advice on how to handle return to work letters. These women can also tell you about alternative employment options that might be available at your company.
  • Make sure your letter clearly states your return date and any scheduling changes.
  • If your situation or plans change, let your company know as soon as possible. This is an example of good will and also establishes the need for discussions about your needs and the needs of the company.
  • Be familiar with company policies and your employment contract. If your company has specific rules or your contract states guidelines for maternity leave and work returns, you should be aware of these. If you write a letter that requests something that is against company policy, you may have some problems.
  • In addition, you may want to put your "voice" into the letter. For example, some employees may want to add a sentence expressing that they look forward to returning for duty. Some might want to note how thankful they are that the company has been so accommodating during this life-changing event.

More Resources

If you still need more examples of return to work letters, check out the select at your local library. Books about letter writing like Webster's New World Letter Writing Handbook and 1,001 Letters For All Occasions: The Best Models for Every Business and Personal Need can provide models that you can adapt depending on your situation.

If you are struggling to find the right words for your return to work letter, you can order one through a company like Letter Rep. The company subcontracts writers to compose correspondences on request. There is a fee for the service. In most cases, it simply isn't necessary.

Eliminate Some of the Stress

No matter what your circumstances, returning to work after your maternity leave can be challenging. You can eliminate some of the stress by clearly communicating your plans to your employer in written form.

Examples of a Return to Work Letter