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Congrats! You’re expecting. Along with all the fun planning and prep happening during this exciting time, there are admittedly some serious logistics to think about, too. Like, how (and when) to break the big news to your boss. What’s more, will you qualify for Maternity Allowance and what is your company’s policy on leave? Ahead, the top tips that will help ensure the conversation with your employer goes well.
Wait until you’re out of the first trimester to say anything
There’s no need to break the news the second your pregnancy test is positive, given that early miscarriages are, sadly, very common. “Roughly 10 to 25 percent of pregnancies result in a miscarriage, so you don’t want to spill the beans too soon,” cautions Lakeisha Richardson, an OBGYN at the Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville, Mississippi. The one caveat: “If you work in a hazardous environment, tell your boss as soon as you find out to prevent any complications or risk to your developing baby,” she adds. (You may also have to reveal the news earlier if you’re dealing with severe morning sickness.) But do make sure to have the conversation before you’re showing. “You don’t want to have coworkers playing the guessing game or discussing it behind your back. The news needs to come from you, not your belly,” adds Dysfunctional Ever After blogger Samm Bonawitz.
Do your research ahead of time
In the meantime, do your due diligence so that you’re well informed about your company’s maternity leave policy prior to the big meeting. “It will be helpful during the discussion, and you may even be able to enlighten your boss on some details he or she is unaware of,” says Millennialist Mom blogger Ashley Dicarlo. This might entail reaching out privately to HR, who can provide you with official info on your eligibility for FMLA or short-term disability pay, she adds. FYI, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles you to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, while maintaining your healthcare benefits. As long as you’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where there are more than 50 employees or more within 75 miles, you’re eligible for this. Still, policies vary greatly, so considering company specifics is smart. Dr. Richardson advises inquiring about medical leave and maternity policies, as well as both short-term and long-term disability policies.
Keep it positive
It can be an admittedly nerve-wracking conversation, but keep the vibes and energy positive, advises Bonawitz. “If you walk into that office confident, enthusiastic and positive, your boss will likely reciprocate that energy. If you go in there anxious and apologizing, how do you expect him or her to be outwardly excited for you?” Take Dicarlo’s experience: “I was one of the anxious ones, but I didn’t need to be. My manager was excited and reassuring of my rights since she had two young kids as well.” Expect the best.
Save logistics for a longer conversation later
While you definitely want to go in well-informed, this initial meeting should just be about breaking the news, and, to the point above, focusing on the excitement and positivity. Feel free to mention what you think your post-baby plans may be, but the first meeting shouldn't be a time where any final decisions are made. “You never know what could happen in the course of your pregnancy or workload in the coming months that might change your decision. This should be a conversation that continues between you, your boss, and human resources for a while,” advises Bonawitz.
Wait to announce it to the entire office
“I didn’t tell my coworkers immediately. I didn’t want to be a distraction and attract a crowd,” says Dicarlo. “Being excited and positive is one thing, but there is still work to do and leadership will appreciate modesty.” The caveat: If there is someone who you know recently went through the same thing, it can be helpful to speak to them before you tell your boss; they can share any advice they have about breaking the news, notes Bonawitz. Just be sure to then tell your boss who you told, so that he or she knows whom to celebrate with and whom not to discuss it with.
Consider the relationship you have with your boss
Like any relationship, only you know and can properly gauge the dynamic between you and your boss, which will play a pivotal role in this important conversation. For Bonawitz, it was all fairly informal. “My relationship with my boss is professional, but also causal. He knew about my issues getting pregnant. So, when I told him, I literally just walked into his office and said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that as of tomorrow I am fourteen weeks pregnant!’ With that, he celebrated with me. It was overall a really good experience that not all women have. If I would have walked into his office with a file of the HR policy on parental leave, calendared dates, and other expectations, it wouldn't have been true to our relationship.” The key is to keep the conversation in line with your usual dynamic and rapport.