You’re not pregnant yet, but you could be in the near future, which means you’ll soon make some important decisions about your health, your finances, and, if you’re employed, your work. Speaking of work: you will need to disclose your pregnancy with your manager or human resources.
Deciding when to reveal your pregnancy at work is a very personal decision, and it’s yours to make. When the time comes, there are several things to consider when deciding when to let your employer know.
Things for you to think about
Different women tell their employers that they’re pregnant at many different points in their pregnancies, for many different reasons. The following are some of the things that many pregnant women take into consideration before revealing their pregnancy to their manager or HR.
- Who to tell first: You’ll need to decide if you want to tell HR or your manager first. Your manager is probably your best bet, but HR is a good backup. When it is time to have the conversation, feel free to keep it short and simple. It’s fine to just say, “I’m pregnant, I feel great, and I’m doing fine at work. I’m due on [this date] and I know at some point we’ll need to begin thinking about my maternity leave.”
- Discrimination: Many women have questions about their rights as a pregnant employee, but the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is in place to protect workers. This law applies to U.S. employers with 15 or more employees. You can read more about the PDA at this link. If you have questions about pregnancy and work-related laws and issues in your state, you can click here to find the contact information for your regional US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau office.
- Safety: Women whose particular job demands or work environments may pose a safety risk for them when pregnant may need to tell their employers about their pregnancies earlier so they can ask for certain work accommodations to keep them and their babies safe.
- Pregnancy-related factors: This one’s a little harder to plan for in advance, but women often tell their employer earlier rather than later if they’re showing, if they’re experiencing visible symptoms, or if they have a high-risk pregnancy and will need to go to a lot of appointments.
Your next steps
At this stage in your pregnancy journey, you’ve got some time to plan your next steps.
- Learn your benefits and rights: First, try to learn more about your company’s specific maternity policies and your legal rights. Do you get paid time off? Short-term disability? If you live in the United States, do you qualify for FMLA? What are your state’s specific FMLA policies? You can read more about your state’s FMLA laws by following this link and selecting your state of residence from the map. HR can also be a great resource for all of this information — and they’re there to help guide you through this process.
- Talk to your partner: Set aside some time to have an honest, open conversation with your partner about your jobs, how the two of you are going to manage time off when Baby arrives, and how your finances should be managed.
- Document your value: Start collecting written or verbal notes of positive feedback that you receive around the office. It never hurts to know your value in the workplace.
- Stay engaged at work: A pregnancy shouldn’t change how you see yourself as an employee. You’re a valuable employee, and an integral part of your company’s success.
When and how a woman discloses her pregnancy at work is a very personal decision, and it’s understandable if the idea of disclosing pregnancy at work seems a little daunting right now. But it’s great that you’re thinking so far ahead! This will serve you well in the long run, and it will give you even more time to savor all the exciting steps along the way to meeting your baby.
- Lisa Abraham. The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave. Amazon Digital Services LLC, April 29, 2017. Web.
- “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.” EEOC. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 10/31/78. Web. Accessed 7/24/17.