Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, and many women look forward to getting pregnant. For some women, sharing news that they are pregnant, especially with their employer, can bring about a lot of anxiety.
The worry is about the implications on the job or the reaction of the boss.
For the boss at work, news of your pregnancy might be a sensitive matter because it affects your performance at work and your work output, and the company in general.
When to Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant
There is no stipulated time for you to announce your pregnancy. Finding time to tell your boss about your pregnancy depends on several things.
You might want to consider the following before deciding when to tell your boss you’re pregnant.
How you are feeling
Pregnancy brings a whole change in the body, and while the body is adjusting to the growing baby in the womb, it might experience severe symptoms.
Most women experience nausea, fatigue, body ache, and mood swings. If you are experiencing severe cases of these symptoms, you can consider telling your boss about your pregnancy earlier so that you can get day-offs and closer attention.
Having a history of miscarriages might mean that there’s a higher chance of miscarriage even for this pregnancy. Most women wait until the first trimester (considered to be a high-risk stage of pregnancy) is complete and announce their pregnancy in the fourth month.
Also, if your pregnancy is categorized by the doctor as a high-risk pregnancy, then you can consider telling your boss earlier.
What kind of work you do
Does your work involve heavy lifting or turning big machinery? You do not want to be lifting heavy things while pregnant; therefore, you can consider telling your boss about your pregnancy early enough.
But if your work is light and not strenuous, it’s okay to wait for some time before breaking the news. This doesn’t stop you from telling your boss about your pregnancy early if you want to.
How family-friendly the company is
From history, does the company support pregnant workers? Are they treated with respect? What’s the company’s policy concerning pregnant workers?
You can take some time to find answers to these questions and more that may arise and would be of concern to you in relation to your pregnancy.
Do Your Homework
Take your time and prepare to make the announcement. Here are some of the things you should check off the list.
Review the company’s parental leave policies.
Before you talk to your boss, you must learn everything about the company’s policies about maternity leave. Some offer a paid leave, others unpaid.
Most of these policies are outlined in the employees’ handbook, therefore take time to read it and understand what the policies state.
These policies also highlight the kind of treatment you should receive during your pregnancy period. Getting knowledge of these will help you point out any cases of discrimination at work.
Know your rights.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 protects you from being discriminated against and offers pregnant women the same treatment as that accorded to temporarily disabled employees.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) stipulates that all public agencies and private entities with 50 or more employees should provide new or expecting parents 12 weeks leave over 12 months to take care of themselves and/or the baby.
For smaller working places, the leave period is determined by the boss, so it’s important to get some history on that.
Plan coverage for when you’ll be absent.
The news of your pregnancy may come as a new headache for your boss, trying to get someone to fill in for you during your leave.
To make things easier for him/her, arm yourself with a list of ideas and potential solutions to how your job can be managed in your absence.
At this point, you should also think realistically about coming back to work so that you know how to tell it to the boss.
Think of the responsibility adjustments that you may need.
Depending on the kind of job you do, you might need to request some adjustments to your responsibilities so that you can do the easier work.
Can you swap responsibilities with another employee until you deliver? What did other colleagues do when they were pregnant in the past?
Break The News!
After proper planning and preparation, you are now ready to tell your boss about your pregnancy.
Before you can tell your friends and colleagues, tell your boss first. Let your boss hear it directly from you and not from social networks or some gossip at work.
For this process to go smoothly;
Choose the right time
This news is important and personal, so you don’t want your boss to be in a hurry or just brush it off.
You can speak to the secretary to book an appointment with him/her so that you can have ample time to share your news and he/she will be attentive to you.
Also, about your pregnancy, it’s up to you to decide at what stage of the pregnancy you’ll tell about it. It would be best for you to tell your boss before the pregnancy starts showing.
Don’t be nervous
Women out there are working hard every day to avoid being judged as uncommitted to their careers. The news of your pregnancy could give you such a subtle feeling, but you should hold your head high.
Take time to talk to parents around you in your working place and find out how they were able to get around even after motherhood.
Have a plan in place
Let your boss know that you took time to plan for when you’ll be away and even for the adjustments you need in the remaining time of your pregnancy.
Be open to discussion and suggestions from him, being ready to compromise if need be. You can also let him know the plans you have concerning the maternity leave.
Deliver the news happily and positively
You are not sorry for being pregnant, so don’t start with apologies. Your tone should be filled with excitement because you are talking to another human being who understands.
If your boss responds positively, the rest of the conversation becomes easy and flows.
If your boss is taken aback by the news, relax and hold your cool. He could be still processing the news and not sure what to say yet.
Explain to him your plan and let him know that your work will continue uninterrupted, and the output will be as required.
Put it in writing
After discussing everything and coming up with a workable plan, it’s important to write everything down to avoid confusion in the future.
A written document can always be referenced. That is why even toddlers get to learn how to read through the Children Learning Reading program so that they can read and understand policies written for children. The program is highly recommended, by the way.
What to Say
Have you thought of what to say? How exactly are you going to deliver the news to your boss?
There is no perfect template to use for such news, but you can consider this as a guide to your own words.
“I’m excited to let you know that I’m pregnant. My expected due date is on [date] and so, I expect to go on maternity leave on [date] and be back to work on [date]. I have made a plan for the work I’m expected to complete by then and also made arrangements for who will handle my projects in my absence. Can we go over it now?”
The boss is likely to cut in before you can complete saying all that, but let the conversation flow. The most important thing is to deliver the news in a way that creates less tension and is productive by the end of the meeting.
What If You Are Treated Unfairly?
Once your boss is aware of your pregnancy, you are protected from any kind of unfair treatment.
In case you are treated unfairly, seek intervention from the Human Resource Department. There should be some policy in the company that provides for your protection while pregnant.
Make sure that all the suspected cases of discrimination, harassment, or victimization just because you are pregnant are documented.
If the HR is irresponsive to your complaint, you can file a case of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or discuss it with a lawyer.
The step to filing a complaint with EEOC would benefit even other pregnant mothers out there who are afraid to come out or do not have the means to do so.
Above all other things, your health and that of the baby you’re carrying are paramount. It’s important that the decisions you make concerning this matter be subjective to keeping you and your baby safe.
Remember that your boss is a fellow human being with feelings and emotions. He probably has a family of his own, so he understands the cautions that come with pregnancy.
And in case his response to the news is less enthusiastic and not as you had imagined, know that the law protects you from any form of ill-treatment while you are pregnant.