During my undergraduate years, I recall a professor of women’s studies telling all the students, “My G-d, if you get pregnant, don’t tell them until you’re showing at least, if you can get away with it.” “At the time, I thought it was strange, but I didn’t really think about it again until I became pregnant. How do you know when to tell your boss you’re pregnant? Was it actually good advice?
Yes, it’s illegal to do so, but we all know there are ways around it (negative evaluations, downsizing, grievance airing that just so happens to line up with the time you announce your pregnancy). How many of us have heard stories about parents who were fired from their jobs when they told their boss they were expecting? Unfortunately, since women have been employed, this shit has been happening. When she revealed she was pregnant, Senator Elizabeth Warren was infamously fired from her job as a special education teacher, according to The New York Times. There is a real concern that many women who become pregnant have.
Even if you are aware that your job is secure, choosing the right moment to inform your boss that you are expecting can present challenges you may not have thought of. If you have a physical job, it might mean you have to change your responsibilities. It might imply that office setup will need to change. Let’s face it, telling your boss will probably never be simple, and you should be ready for a range of responses, whether they are favorable or unfavorable.
Additionally, there are the incredibly private reasons one might not want to disclose a pregnancy during the first few weeks of the pregnancy, when the risk of miscarriage is greatest. Having had several miscarriages, I am aware of the fine line we must tread when determining when something is “safe.” As scans are completed and blood is drawn, that date is frequently a moving target.
Kelly DuFord Williams, founder and managing partner at Slate Law Group, explains that there is actually no legal deadline for telling your employer that you are expecting. As an alternative, she advises Romper that at least “for planning purposes you will probably want to give them enough advance notice so that you know when and how maternity leave will work, and so you can figure out how to add your child to your insurance policy,” ”.
She acknowledges that “many women are concerned about backlash,” but you are in good legal standing. “You don’t have to tell your employer until you’re ready, and they can’t ask,” But as we all know, there are differences between what your employer’s human resources department thinks you should do and what you’re legally required to do. Knowing that whatever decision you make is protected by the law is crucial. And by all means, if you’re having problems or fearing retaliation, your decisions about what to disclose and when to do it are legitimate, protected choices. Knowing the company culture and speaking to others who have experienced it can help you anticipate how your situation might develop.
According to HR and employment expert Marissa Letendre of My Resume Seed, in an ideal world, you might think about telling your boss at the end of your first trimester or the start of your second to keep everything running smoothly and keep everyone satisfied with how things move forward.
To prevent your boss from finding out from other people, she advises telling your boss first before telling your coworkers. Ask them to keep it private until you have had the chance to talk with your boss if your coworker(s) are close friends with you and someone you would typically tell right away. When you have to take extra time for doctor’s appointments or if complications arise and you need to be out of the office, informing them in advance makes things easier.
But how to start? According to Letendre, planning the conversation is almost as crucial as choosing the right time to have it. “Enter the conversation as you would with anyone else, and let them know that you are expecting, the expected date of delivery, and the anticipated end date of your employment.” If at all possible, Letendre advises “expressing your confidence in your ability to continue with your responsibilities and offering a suggestion for handling them when you take maternity leave.” This demonstrates to your boss that you are considering both your own interests and those of the company, she says. ”.
If you work a job where you’ll probably need to train someone to fill in for you while you’re away, make a plan for how to handle that and share it with your boss. In order to meet the needs of the company, Letendre advises that you “ask them to keep you informed if there is anything they need before you go on leave.” This will balance both your needs and theirs. However, don’t anticipate that they will know right away; they must plan just like you do. Just be sure to keep checking in as time passes. And “always ask for help if you need it. Letendre advises reaching out to HR if accommodations are required so they can support your needs.
The right time to share your pregnancy news
Tips for preparing your pregnancy announcement
To make sure your pregnancy announcement contains all the necessary information, use the following advice:
Learn about your companys policies
To learn more about your company’s maternity leave policies, think about speaking with HR. You can also look in your employee handbook, which ought to have all the details on guidelines and regulations for disclosing your pregnancy and taking maternity leave. To process your leave, find out who you need to tell. For instance, you might have to inform a specific HR expert in addition to your immediate supervisor.
Have a preliminary plan
Create a rough plan for coverage while you are away from work if you intend to resume your employment. Make a list of potential strategies your team could use to handle your tasks while you’re away. You should also think about how long you want to take off. Making a plan will ease some of the pressure from your manager and coworkers and signal that you intend to keep working.
Make it official
Plan a time to meet your manager face-to-face so you can talk about the next steps. If the employee handbook advises consulting HR first, think about setting up a meeting with both parties. In addition to announcing your pregnancy, use this time to discuss your maternity leave schedule. By discussing the plan’s specifics with HR and your supervisor, you can make sure that everyone is aware of the same information.
Record your conversation so that everyone will be able to easily refer back to the specifics. Send a thank-you email to your manager for the meeting and a summary of everything you discussed in a follow-up email after the conversation.
How to decide when to tell work you’re pregnant
You can use the following steps to decide when to inform your employer that you are pregnant:
1. Consider how far along you are
Most women typically wait until the end of their first trimester or the start of their second trimester before getting pregnant. This period also happens to be when the majority of women begin exhibiting pregnancy symptoms.
2. Think about any complications youre experiencing
If you experience severe morning sickness or require frequent doctor visits, you might want to tell people pretty soon after conception. This can help your employer accommodate your schedule.
3. Base part of your decision on your responsibilities
Consider discussing it early on if you are a member of a small team that heavily depends on you for production. To prepare for your absence, your team should have as much time as possible to switch workloads and responsibilities.
How to tell your workplace you’re pregnant
When you’re prepared, you can take the following actions to inform your coworkers that you’re expecting:
1. Choose a time
Once you have informed your manager and an HR representative, you can typically inform your coworkers. To make sure everyone is given the same information, it might be helpful to confirm any specifics with your manager before making your announcement public.
2. Document the announcement
A great way to inform everyone about the upcoming changes is to share documentation of your maternity leave with your team, department, and any other pertinent people. This is crucial if another team member will be in charge of handling your workload while you are away.
Consider sending an email to those in your department. Heres a short template that you could use:
I want to share some news with you all. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to prepare for my maternity leave because I am expecting a child. I’ll meet with you to go over the next steps while I’m working on [projects] with [team members].
If everything goes according to plan, I intend to keep working until [approximate date]. I want to emphasize that I will be accessible for any emergencies during my maternity leave, but I plan to take a leave of [duration] Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns. During my maternity leave, I’ll be developing a strategic plan to ensure that everyone is covered.
3. Communicate often
Throughout your pregnancy, stay in touch with your team and HR to let them know about any timelines, expectations, and workload changes. As soon as changes occur, communicate them to your team so they can adjust.
Frequently asked questions
The following are some of the most typical queries regarding pregnancy at work:
When should expecting fathers or partners tell their work about the pregnancy?
An expectant father should probably notify their employer as soon as possible if they plan to take time off. Additional time can help the team prepare for their absence. Ahead of time communication is also beneficial if the partner intends to attend doctor appointments during regular business hours.
Can your employer require a doctors note for your maternity leave?
Sometimes. Some employers have policies in place for approving leave time, such as requiring a doctor’s note to be submitted. If so, speak with HR to learn more about the procedures and types of paperwork required for maternity leave approvals.
What should you discuss with human resources?
You can get assistance navigating the Family and Medical Leave Act from a human resources representative, which should grant you the right to up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave if you are eligible. Ask your HR representative if your employer provides any type of paid maternity leave and if there are childcare options if you intend to return to work.
When should I tell my boss I am pregnant?
One specific recommendation is to inform your employer at the conclusion of the first trimester (12–13 weeks) Some women start to show around this time, and the chance of miscarriage is lower.
What week should I announce my pregnancy at work?
If you can keep the pregnancy a secret until the 20-week mark, you might want to wait to tell your boss (or company) so you can demonstrate your ability to perform well at work even while pregnant.