When and How to Tell Your Boss You're Having a Baby

by Christy Bieber | Sept. 2, 2019

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Are you pregnant? Here's a guide to telling your employer the big news.

Pregnancy is often great news for moms- and dads-to-be, but it can bring additional complications. For example, pregnancy can affect your ability to work, and, for most parents, necessitates taking at least some time off after the baby is born. You'll need to plan for this by budgeting for leave so that you don't have to stick expenses on a credit card. 

Because your performance at your job is inevitably going to be impacted by your pregnancy, it's also important to make the right choices about when and how to tell your boss you're expecting. If you're not sure about broaching the subject, this guide can help. 

Pregnant woman sitting at her desk.

Image source: Getty Images

When to tell your boss you're pregnant

There's no one right time to tell your boss that you're expecting. In general, many people prefer to wait until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage declines. However, for some jobs, this may not be possible. 

If your position requires you to perform strenuous physical work, or could result in exposure to chemicals or substances that could harm the baby, you need to alert your boss ASAP. In most cases, your boss will be required to make accommodations, such as reassigning you to work that presents less risk. 

If there are no safety risks at work, it's OK to wait until you feel more confident in the pregnancy and are ready to share the news. Some women also prefer to wait until after an upcoming performance review if they're worried about the response from their boss, or decide to wait until after a big success at work. 

However, whatever time you choose, you should always tell your boss before telling any of your coworkers -- even if they are your friends.  And you'll want to provide your boss with ample time to plan for your maternity leave, especially if any big projects are coming up, or if you have company events that normally take place during the time when your baby will be born. 

It's also a good idea to speak up before you start showing, as you want to share the news with your boss on your own time, and not have your baby bump give you away. 

How to tell your boss you're pregnant 

Although your boss will hopefully be happy about your good news, it's natural that his or her primary concern will be what your announcement means for the company. 

If you're planning to return to work, make it clear to your boss that your maternity leave will not be permanent. And you should be ready to answer questions that your boss is likely to ask, including details about your due date, and when your maternity leave will start. 

To help put your boss' mind at ease about the time you'll be taking off, it can be helpful to come prepared with a suggested plan. Let your boss know how you'll handle wrapping up or transitioning ongoing projects, and the steps you'll take to position the person filling in for you for success.

If you have questions about your company leave policy or benefits, put together a list of these before the conversation, or ask your boss whom in HR you should speak to. It can even be helpful to research your company's maternity leave policy in advance so that you'll have an idea of what you're entitled to when discussing time off.

You should also make sure to tell your boss the news in person -- never in an email -- and set aside time to have the conversation. You can request a short meeting so that you can have uninterrupted time to talk, and not spring the news on him or her in the middle of a busy day. 

Know your rights when you tell your boss you're pregnant

Hopefully, your boss will react well to your pregnancy, and you'll have no problems. But it can be helpful to know your rights going in, just in case there's an issue. 

Federal laws prevent pregnancy discrimination so that you can't be terminated just because you're having a baby. And even if you don't get any paid leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles most employees to unpaid leave without putting their job at risk. 

The good news is there are plenty of companies out there that do offer paid leave, and that are family friendly. Hopefully, when you let your boss in on the news, you'll discover that you work at one of them, and the announcement will go well for you.

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