One of the big things on your mind during pregnancy might be how you are going to navigate working and parenting, and one of the first steps is figuring out how to tell your boss you are pregnant. What follows is a discussion of things to consider leading up to that conversation, including your legal rights and your plans for after baby.
When to talk to your boss
Most people share their pregnancies with their coworkers and supervisors sometime in the late first or early second trimesters. If you are doing any first trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities, you will likely want to wait until the results of those test are back before having any conversations. Sometimes, especially if you are very sick, you might need to have the conversation sooner, but early second trimester usually feels like a good time to communicate the news because often your baby bump isn’t too obvious yet and because the risk of miscarriage drops after the first trimester.
Before you have the conversation
First, you should know that there are two laws that specifically protect pregnant people on the books in the United States: the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The PDA prohibits your employer from discriminating against you for being pregnant, for having been pregnant, or for planning to become pregnant at some future time. FMLA means that you are entitled to a certain amount of unpaid leave and preservation of a similar level job upon your return to work. Both of these laws include stipulations based on the size of the company you work for and the duration of the time they have employed you, so educate yourself on these laws to find out whether they apply to your situation before sharing your pregnancy. This Pregistry blog post explains more about these laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which also applies to pregnant people.
Another thing to look into is your company’s policies on pregnancy and parental leave. If you have an employee handbook you can probably read about the policies there. If not, be prepared with questions for your boss or for your human resources representative when you have the conversation to disclose your pregnancy. It is also possible that your company does not have parental leave policies, so before you discuss your pregnancy and plans with your boss it is not a bad idea to have an idea of what you might want your pregnancy and parental leave to look like.
How to have the conversation
It is best to make your supervisor one of the first people that you discuss your pregnancy with at work, so that she does not hear the information second hand. Plan to speak with her in person, if you can, and schedule a time that works for you both so that you do not spring the conversation on her when she is swamped with other things. If you have concerns about continuing to do your work—for instance, if your job is difficult to do or should be avoided during pregnancy—you can bring them up, but try to have a straightforward, brief conversation with your boss initially in order to share your estimated due date and preliminary plans for parental leave. You can always bring in a human resources representative or have further conversations with your supervisor later to iron out the details of special accommodations you might require or your planned leave. The website FairyGodBoss has some great ideas with a list of tips for talking to your boss and a detailed checklist to look over before you announce your pregnancy at work.
Planning for after baby arrives
There are a number of things you can talk to your employer about once you’ve shared your pregnancy news with them. If you are planning to return to work, things you might be wondering about and can ask about before baby comes are:
- Accommodations for breastfeeding and pumping at work
- How your accrual of paid time off—sick and vacation time—will be affected by your parental leave
- Whether there is childcare onsite where you work and whether childcare subsidies or a pre-tax childcare reimbursement is something that your employer offers
- What the employer plans to do to cover your work load while you are gone—will there be a temporary employee you need to train or someone else you need to bring up to speed before your leave?