Work and Maternity Leave

You’re “out of the closet” to your friends and family…but there is still one other important person to share your news with: Your Boss!

When do you tell your employer that you are expecting? And what’s the best way?

There may not be a perfect time to tell your employer that you are expecting but you can at least prepare yourself to do it appropriately.

First, find out what the official company policy is when it comes to maternity leave. Now is the time to dig up that employee handbook and make an appointment with your HR representative to find out any new policies or protocol.

Next, try to talk to colleagues who recently had a baby about their experience. Ask them how much time off they received, how much of it was paid vs. unpaid leave. Find out how they broke the news. But remember to be discreet! You don’t want the office grapevine reaching your boss before you do.

Then figure out how much time you want to take off and how much you can actually afford to take. Try and allot for more time than you think you might want. Many first-time moms think they’ll want to go back right away while they’re pregnant but then change their minds after the baby is born. You may decide you don’t even want to return at all.

Before you spill the beans it’s also wise to have a plan in place to see how your job will be handled while you are out or while you are still on the job. For example, what if your position involves heavy lifting or any other activities that are typically restricted during pregnancy. Will your frequent doctors appointments become an issue? Consider your childcare options when you return to work, are you able to afford full-time help or is daycare a better choice for you?

Typically, most women wait to tell their employers at the beginning of their second trimester or after the fourth month when the risk of miscarriage dramatically declines. For some it may be really hard to keep this “secret” because you can no longer zip up your jeans (tip – try bella bands!), and you look like you’re wearing your husband’s hand-me-downs to work. Luckily in recent years, fashion has been on our side and peasant tops and maxidresses have become the norm. Stock up on loose-fitting tops now and you can wear them right after having the baby too until you are back to your pre-pregnancy size.

Remember – this is an exciting time in your life and you want others to share in your happiness. Be confident when you are discussing this with your employer. If you plan on going back to work after your maternity leave you should make it known to your superiors that you intend to resume your duties at full capacity.

Important resources that cover this topic:

Family Medical Leave Act: