How To Write a Parental Leave Out-of-Office Message

Don't leave your out-of-office message in someone else's hands

illustration about how to create a maternity out-of-office message

The Balance / Danie Drankwalter

Creating the right out-of-office reply is important, especially when out on parental leave. The message creates a personal boundary that alerts the sender that you will be unavailable during your leave and informs them about who they can contact during your absence. Setting this up early can allow you to craft a purposeful note. You will feel confident in your message, and your co-workers and clients will feel cared for.

Key Takeaways

  • A clear parental leave out-of-office message sets clear boundaries and expectations.
  • Write your parental leave message weeks or months before your planned absence.
  • Writing a parental leave message early will give you time to write it carefully, and it will be in place in case you must leave early.
  • Use our template to help you compose your own parental leave out-of-office message.

Learn more about the importance of your message and why you should schedule time to work on it.

A Parental Leave Out-of-Office Message Sets Expectations

The parental leave you take after your baby is born is private and very special. The moments with your newborn can never be recaptured, and parental leave is known to be beneficial for the health and wellness of both parent and infant, and for family security in general. So, it's important to protect this period in your life.

You know how it feels to get a work email while on vacation. You feel compelled to send a quick reply. But while on parental leave, you don't really have time for that. Also, that quick reply can balloon into a bigger issue to address.

But after the birth of a child, you are welcoming a new member into your family. This time of bonding will be filled with sleepless nights, an unpredictable schedule, recuperation, doctor appointments, visitors, and much more. There will be a lot of change that you need to manage. Writing emails and responding to crises at work under these conditions isn't fair to you, nor to your work colleagues. 


Your parental leave out-of-office message will protect you from work interruptions, as well as poorly thought-out emails. 

Setting boundaries is important during this time. To help put your work life on hold, establish that your newborn is your top priority. When you create the right out-of-office message, people will understand what your current priority is and will respect the boundary it sets.

So how do you create a message to help protect such a special time?

Give Your Out-of-Office Message Some Thought

About midway through the pregnancy, start working on the out-of-office message. If given the option to save a title for this, title it "Parental Leave - Out of Office." 


Preparing the message ahead of time gives you more control over what your message will say.

You are the one who knows how to do your job, who will be taking over your responsibilities, and when you may be back to the office. Decide if you want to include a specific return-to-work date or week, or consider not mentioning a date if you're unsure. If you don't list a specific person the sender can contact, decide if you want to provide your manager's email and/or phone number.

Writing the message early saves you, your employer, and your contacts time. You may need to leave the office unexpectedly (to deliver your baby). Having a prepared message gives your IT admin or your manager a message to use, rather than attempting to write one themselves. The lack of a pre-written message can also cause confusion or misunderstandings with clients, especially when if you'll be out for an extended period of time.

Inform your manager when your message is complete. They'll likely appreciate that you're prepared for your exit, and there's one less thing they'll need to do to support you.

What To Include in Your Parental Leave Message

Below is a sample out-of-office message you can use. Once you enable the message in your email software, it will automatically respond to any emails sent to you during a specified time.

It is up to you if you'd like to inform recipients where you are. You could simply say you are out of the office, or you can announce that you are on your parental leave. You can use a variant of this email message for extended vacations or business trips, as well. Or even if you're taking parental leave for something besides the birth of a child, such as looking after a child with an illness.

Where you see (parentheses), insert the appropriate words or phrases for your circumstances.

Parental Leave Out-of-Office Sample Email Message (Text Version)

Thank you for your email. I am out of the office on parental leave until (date you expect to return).

If you need immediate assistance please contact (name of colleague covering for you, with contact details, your manager's email, or a phone number).

(If you have certain projects you cover list the project name and the person covering you).

If your matter is not urgent I'll reply to your email upon my return.

Kind regards,

(Your name)

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. "The Urgent Necessity for Paid Parental Leave."

Related Articles