Updated on March 21st, 2023
A letter of intent for maternity leave is sent to an employer by a pregnant employee to ask for time off for the birth and care of their baby. The letter relays the employee’s job position, expected delivery date, and the dates they wish to begin and end their maternity leave. By drafting a letter of intent (LOI), the employee puts their request in clear terms and shows respect to their employer by delivering a formal letter.
An LOI for maternity leave will generally include the following information:
- Salutation and introduction – In a formal letter, it’s customary to begin with a salutation addressing the recipient, such as “Dear _____,” and a brief introductory paragraph that presents the reason for the letter in simple terms.
- Contact information – The sender should include a mailing address, phone number, and email address so that they can be easily contacted by the letter recipient as needed.
- Expected delivery date – The date that a medical professional has estimated for the baby’s delivery should be included to provide context for the requested time off.
- Maternity leave period – The sender will need to indicate the desired start date and duration of their maternity leave. Although they are guaranteed a certain amount of time off, the exact start date may be negotiated with their employer.
- Job position – Due to the fact that the sender will be returning to their current position at the end of their leave, they can include their job title to ensure that there is no confusion with their employer.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (§ 29 U.S. Code § 2612(1)) grants new mothers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with the guarantee of maintaining their job position. Individuals approved for adoption or foster care can also request maternity leave. However, the employing organization must have at least 50 employees and the person requesting time off must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the prior year.
Paid Maternity Leave
In addition to the federally-mandated unpaid maternity leave, the following states have laws that provide for paid maternity leave:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
How to Use
Once an individual discovers that they are pregnant, or has been approved for adoption or foster care, they have the right to take time off work. To request maternity leave, the person should draft an LOI addressed to their employer and send it to them by hand, mail, or email.
The employer may negotiate a period of time off that is different from what is expressed in the letter, and some employers will offer paid family leave. As long as the employee is within their rights, they will be guaranteed up to 12 weeks time off without pay while retaining their job.
To retain their right to maternity leave, the employee will likely require the following documentation (Dept. of Commerce):
- Birth certificate
- Consular report of birth abroad
- Healthcare documentation
- Hospital admission form for baby’s delivery
- Adoption placement agreement (for adoptions)
- Foster care placement record (for foster care placements)
Download: PDF, Word (.docx), OpenDocument
LETTER OF INTENT
FOR MATERNITY LEAVE
[SENDER (i.e., EMPLOYEE) NAME]
[SENDER STREET ADDRESS]
[SENDER CITY, STATE, ZIP]
[RECIPIENT (i.e., EMPLOYER) NAME]
[RECIPIENT STREET ADDRESS]
[RECIPIENT CITY, STATE, ZIP]
Dear: [EMPLOYER NAME]
I am writing to inform you that I am pregnant and intend on taking maternity leave.
My physician has estimated that the baby is expected on [DATE] and I would like to remain working until [DATE]. I plan to take [NUMBER OF WEEKS] weeks off and, barring no medical issues or complications, I anticipate no problem with resuming my current position as [POSITION TITLE] following my absence.
If you have any questions, I can be contacted via email at [EMAIL ADDRESS] or by telephone at [PHONE NUMBER]. Please inform me of any forms, doctor’s notes, or other information you require to enable this transition into my maternity.
[SENDER PRINTED NAME]