Tips for Announcing Your Pregnancy at Work
Now that you’re pregnant, you’ve probably shared your news with the people closest to you. But what about work? You might wonder: When is the right time to tell your boss and coworkers you’re pregnant? And what’s the best way to bring it up?
Here’s what to consider before telling people at work you’re pregnant.
When to Share Your News at Work
Exactly when to tell people at work you’re pregnant is a highly personal decision. “There is no one clear recommended timeline,” says Elizabeth Gedmark, vice president of A Better Balance, a nonprofit organization working to combat discrimination against pregnant workers and caregivers. “It depends so much on the individual, their workplace, and their comfort level.”
It’s common to wait until the end of the first trimester, says Jennifer Daman, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts. “That's when you're out of the window of higher risk for miscarriage, and you may have had some genetic testing and are feeling more comfortable [about the pregnancy].” Some people wait until they’re starting to show.
You’ll want to find the time that’s right for your unique situation.
4 Things That May Affect the Timing
There are some factors that may affect when you should tell your employer about the pregnancy. Consider:
1. Your Job Description
Is there something you do at work that could affect your pregnancy? If so, you may need to tell people sooner rather than later.
“Physically demanding jobs or those with potential hazards may require earlier disclosure to ensure safety and necessary accommodations,” says Matthew Stegmeier, director of operations at Project WHEN, a nonprofit organization working to end workplace harassment.
In the U.S., you have the right to reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy through the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This means you can ask for changes to your job that can keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
For example, you may need a temporary job transfer to avoid heavy lifting or exposure to toxic chemicals. But to ask for those changes, you’ll need to share that you’re pregnant.
2. How You’re Experiencing Pregnancy
For example, you may ask for extra snack or bathroom breaks, time off for doctor visits, or the ability to work from home, says Daman. These types of accommodations are also covered under the PWFA.
3. Your Work Relationships
“Your comfort level with your manager and coworkers may influence when you choose to share the news,” says Stegmeier. Some people may be eager to share their excitement with their boss. Others may be worried their manager will question their ability to perform their job or their long-term commitment to the company.
4. Your Plans for Parental Leave
Do you qualify for family or medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? If so, you’re entitled to job protection while taking up to 12 weeks off to recover from childbirth and bond with your baby. However, legally you must give your employer at least 30 days notice.
“Although, many workers are not FMLA eligible,” says Gedmark. In that case, “an individual could work all the way until their due date without their supervisor knowing they're pregnant, and that would be perfectly legal under the law.” Even then, you may still want to give your employer a heads up if you plan to take even a little time off.
How to Tell Your Boss and Coworkers You’re Pregnant
Use these strategies to help you share the news of your pregnancy at work.
Do Your Homework First
Before you start the conversation, know your rights. “Learn about employer policies, try to find employee manuals, and ask around to figure out if other coworkers have used different policies that might be helpful,” says Gedmark.
You should also familiarize yourself with the legal protections that are offered under the PWFA and the FMLA, as well as any state-by-state laws, including your right to not be fired, have your hours cut, or be treated poorly due to your pregnancy.
Plan to Tell People In the Right Order
“Generally, you should start by informing your immediate supervisor or manager,” says Stegmeier. “They can help facilitate necessary accommodations and support your needs.”
Next, “you may choose to inform your HR department or the appropriate personnel responsible for managing leave and benefits,” he adds.
From there, you can share with other coworkers as you see fit, depending on your level of comfort, says Stegmeier.
Schedule Time to Chat
Request a private meeting with your boss or manager, says Stegmeier. You can use this time to share the news and start to discuss any accommodations you may need.
When you’re ready to share with other coworkers, it can be less formal, “like casually mentioning it in conversation or during a team meeting,” he says.
You simply need to state that you’re pregnant. There’s no need to share any personal information outside of that, says Daman.
Even if you need accommodations, you don’t need to share why. Any health information can come from your doctor when filling out the paperwork or forms your employer requests. “Let [your medical team] advocate for you, and help you advocate for yourself,” Daman says.
Voice That You’re Committed to Your Role
Even if they don’t say it, an employer may have concerns about how dedicated you’ll be toward your job now that you’re pregnant, says Gedmark. If that’s a concern to you, you may want to reassure them.
Gedmark suggests saying something like, “I’m very dedicated to my job. I will still be just as hard of a worker as before. I'm really excited about this new chapter in my life, but I don't anticipate that it will have negative effects on the job.”
Once you start meeting to share the news, document everything that’s discussed. “Take notes on what happened in the meeting, who was present, the dates, and who said what—especially if somebody said something that was offensive or potentially discriminatory,” says Gedmark. “This can be especially helpful if you’re in a workplace where you feel you don't have as much bargaining power.”
Try not to stress. For most people, these conversations go well, Gedmark says. And once the news is out, you can work with your employer on developing a plan that keeps everyone happy (and healthy).
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