When you're going on parental leave, you probably have a lot of items on your to-do list: tying up loose ends, making sure the people who are taking on your responsibilities in your absence have all the resources they need, meeting with HR—and oh: having a baby.
Your out-of-office message is probably pretty low down on your list of priorities (right after, oh, say, birthing a child). After all, you're just going to say something along the lines of, "I'm on maternity leave until X time." Right?
You could do that...or you could have a little fun with it.
Take Erin Grau. The VP of Operations at The New York Times praised her employer's generous policy in her auto-reply message. “I welcomed a new baby girl into the world and am on maternity leave until May 1 thanks to the generous parental leave policy offered by The Times in response to a proposal by the Women’s Network,” she wrote. “If you’re not familiar with the business case for paid family leave, it increases retention, earnings, and retirement security among workers—especially women—as well as the chance that women will keep working after kids.”
(Be sure to check out our interview with Grau and other members of the Women's Network to learn how they created the proposal that led to this terrific policy.)
Looking for more ideas? Try The Romper's list of super clever maternity-leave automatic replies. (My personal favorite: "I just birthed a human being. What did you do today, Angela? Also, please contact Compliance with any questions.")
Whether you go traditional with your out-of-office message or have a little fun with it, make sure you address all the key points. Your email should include:
• How long you're planning on being out and when you expect to return
• Whether you'll have limited access to email or will be completely offline
• The person or people to contact in your absence
• Any other pertinent information, such as general company contacts, phone numbers, or emails
It's a good idea to type out your auto-reply message ahead of time, because you don't want to have to urgently draft at the last minute...when you'll certainly have other things on your mind!
I am on maternity leave until X date. I will not be checking email during this time. If this is urgent, please contact [name] at [email address]. Otherwise, I will respond to your message when I return.
Thanks to my employer X's generous maternity leave policy, I'll be out of the office until [date]. For immediate assistance, please contact [name] at [email address].
Thanks for your message. I'm on maternity leave until [date]. For immediate assistance, contact:
X at [email] for [matter/department]
Y at [email] for [matter/department]
Z at email for [matter/department]
I'm on maternity leave but occasionally responding to emails. I'll get back to you as soon as possible. In case of emergency, please contact [name] at [email].
Instead of working, I'm bonding with my new child at the moment. I expect to return on [date] and will likely have a pile of messages waiting, so I suggest you contact me again at that time. If this is urgent, please contact [name] at [email].
While you're waiting, please view photos of my baby at [link]. They're far more entertaining than any response I could send you by email.
For more help navigating and preparing for your maternity leave, visit our database of maternity leave resources, where you'll find articles, advice, company policies, laws, community discussions and support, and much more.
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