When you find out that you’re pregnant, you immediately go into super prep mode — from loading up on maternity wear to researching baby name ideas. For me, I ate an organic diet and even patted myself on the back for waiting until the right time in life to have the smartest baby. And of course, you start figuring how who you’re going to tell first. But what I wasn’t expecting was how hard it would be to tell my boss that a big, life-changing event was coming my way.
At work, I decided to keep my pregnancy private for the first five months. In that time I mulled over how to break the big news, and it soon became a pregnancy anxiety. I needed help! So, I asked a few close friends and family members — two of whom are HR professionals — for advice. Scroll on for their tips for telling your boss about being pregnant and how to prep yourself for every kind of reaction.
1. The timing is truly up to you. There’s no hard and fast rule about when to tell your employer that you’re pregnant. Many people wait until the risk of miscarriage significantly lowers, which is around 12 weeks. But while it’s common to wait until after the first trimester is over, this may not be the best time for everyone. If your job involves any activity that may be hazardous to your pregnancy, it’s best to speak up sooner than later. If you’re not sure about whether or not your work is safe for pregnancy, than talk with your doctor. They should be able to go over any health-related concerns and may also be able to write a doctor’s note for your employer.
2. Tell your boss first. Once you have the timing down for when to share the news, make your boss’s office the first stop. It’s important to be able to deliver the news to your boss your way, with your words and when you’re ready. By telling your boss first, you can avoid letting the gossip mill do this for you. When the big day comes to tell your boss, ask for a meeting at the time of day when your workplace is typically the calmest. If you can, avoid timing the meeting around any high-stress activities.
If you’ve decided to wait until a little later to share the news (like I did), than it’s best to keep it all to yourself. Even your work BFF can slip up when excited. This even goes for announcements on social media, which you should keep quiet until you’ve talked to work.
3. Know your employer’s family leave policies and have a personal plan outlined. Whatever you do — don’t think about your pregnancy as a problem for your boss. This is an amazing thing for you that your employer should be super supportive of and well-equipped to handle! But, you can only up your odds of gaining as much support as possible by walking in with a plan or an outline of a plan.
Start by reading your company’s employee handbook. Your employer may have already outlinedoptions for pregnancy-related leave, such as short-term disability. If not, you can check out the Department of Labor’s site to see if you are eligible for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The more information you have about what your company offers and what your rights are as an employee, the better prepared you will be for your own maternity leave.
4. Keep the details professional. When sharing the big news with your boss, remember to treat this meeting as professionally as any other meeting. You don’t need to discuss your pregnancy symptoms or any other personal details. The point of the meeting is informational, and to plan for what happens with you and your role while you’re pregnant and on leave.
5. Know when to ask for help. In most cases, this kind of talk ends with a lot of congrats and happiness. But if your talk ends up with you getting demoted, terminated or any other kind of discrimination due to your pregnancy or maternity leave, it’s important that you know how to ask for the right kind of legal help.
First, write everything down as soon as possible. Details will get fuzzier as time goes on. If you have to file a discrimination claim, you’ll need to have as much accurate info as you can get. Save all written communication that was used to notify you of your job change or to inform you of any decisions made — even if they seem like kind messages concerning your well-being. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re being discriminated against, talk to an employment lawyer. For more on how to file a claim and how you’re covered by law against pregnancy discrimination, check out Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website.
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