If you are working and pregnant, one of the big things on your mind may be telling your boss you are pregnant. Depending upon your work environment, you may be excited to share your news or dreading how your supervisor is going to react. Read on for the best ways to make this big work-life balance milestone go as smoothly as possible.
Know Your Rights
If you are a pregnant worker, your rights are protected via the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This blog post tells more about how these laws offer protections to pregnant people, but the short version is that you can’t be fired for being pregnant and that your employer has to make reasonable accommodations for your safety during pregnancy. There is also a law called the Family Medical Leave Act that offers job protection after time off that might be relevant to your pregnancy and subsequent parental leave. In the best-case scenario, you will not have any trouble with your rights, but it can’t hurt to be prepared before having a conversation with your boss.
Consider the Timing
When you talk to your boss can be a delicate issue. Especially if it is not your first pregnancy, you may look pregnant in your first trimester—perhaps sooner than you would like to be having the conversation. Or you may not look pregnant at all, but maybe you are experiencing nausea and vomiting in your early pregnancy, which could force you to have a conversation with your supervisor before you’re ready to do so. If circumstances do not push the timeline of the conversation up, you might wait until after the first trimester to talk to your boss, as then the risk of miscarriage will be lower. Speaking to your boss sometime in the second trimester could be a good choice, as it will give plenty of time for you to be ready to share and for you, your boss, and your colleagues at your workplace to figure out how to navigate any time off you take post-birth. It’s also a good idea to make sure your boss is one of the first people to know about your pregnancy at work, so that they do not find out through the grapevine and wonder why you haven’t spoken to them about it.
Schedule A Meeting
Depending upon your workplace culture, you probably communicate in any number of ways with your boss. Having a discussion with them about your pregnancy, though, is best done in person and in private at a time that has been scheduled in advance. You want a chance to prepare a bit, and it is nice to not spring any news on your boss in a group meeting or in a conversation earmarked for a different topic. If possible, set up an in person meeting or a video chat, if you’re a remote worker, which will help your boss feel as though you’re taking your responsibilities at your job seriously, despite big life changes coming up for you.
Plan Your Talking Points
Before your meeting, plan at least a basic outline of what you are going to say. Have an idea of when you would like to return to work—though of course you can always change your mind. Be prepared to ask questions about the company’s parental leave policy and be open to a discussion of how coverage for your job will look while you are away. It could be helpful to have ideas about who at the company could take over some of your responsibilities and how you can get your projects or role to a good break point before you leave, but ideally your first conversation should be brief and straightforward. If you need support from your boss in order to do your job effectively while pregnant, this is also the time to bring that up and ask for what you need.
Follow Up After
After you speak in person, write a summary email or memo covering the things you discussed in the meeting. You can then share it with your boss, as well as with the human resources department if that’s appropriate. Continue to have conversations with your boss as your due date approaches about your leave, return to work, and coverage of your job while you are gone.