Most working women can keep working during their pregnancy, even right up until their due date. If you plan to work during pregnancy, it's important to plan ahead to help you and your employer transition during this new phase of your life.
When should you tell your boss?
Deciding when to announce your pregnancy at work is a personal choice. Lots of women wait until after their first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is lower. Others can't wait to share the news. Whatever you choose, there are some things to consider. Whether your working relationship with your boss is friendly or strictly business, it's best that you be the one to break the news to your boss directly, rather than risk her hearing it from the rumor mill. If you're dealing with common pregnancy discomforts like having to run to the bathroom often or feeling tired all the time, your boss will know it's because of your pregnancy and not a change in your work ethic.
How can you plan your leave?
Before telling your boss, you might want to come up with some solutions for how your responsibilities can be managed while you're on maternity leave. If there are projects coming down the pipeline, think of how much you can accomplish before baby arrives and offer suggestions for how the workload can be handled in your absence. As best as you can, create a plan for tying up any loose ends before you're gone. Be prepared to work with your boss to come up with additional solutions for potential conflicts. You'll also want to think about the timing for leaving and reentering the workforce. While you may have a general idea for when you'll begin your leave, it may change as you get closer to your due date. While most women have healthy childbirth experiences and babies, you'll want to keep some flexibility should things not go as planned.
What questions should you ask your employer?
Talk with your human resources manager or boss to learn about your company's maternity leave policies. You'll want to know:
- Does your company offer paid time off for maternity? What is the pay rate while on maternity leave?
- How much paid maternity leave time is available to you?
- What does your health insurance cover? Do you need to change your health coverage plan once baby arrives?
- Does your employer offer disability benefits?
- Will your benefits continue while on maternity leave?
- Does your company offer flexible time or telecommuting to help you transition back into the workforce?
- What additional resources does your employer offer to new moms?
What are your rights?
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees can take time off without pay for pregnancy- and family-related health issues. The act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that your group health benefits be maintained during the leave. To qualify, you must have:
- Worked at a location where the company has 50 or more employees within 75 miles
- Worked for your employer for at least 12 months
- Completed at least 1,250 hours of work over the past 12 months
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act says it's unlawful to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related health conditions. Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same way as other employees with similar abilities or limitations.
Last reviewed May 2010
Most common questions
What are my rights for maternity leave?
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) employees can take time off from work without pay for pregnancy- and family-related health issues. The act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that you can keep your health insurance benefits during the leave. To qualify, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months, and worked at a location where the company has 50 or more employees within 75 miles. This time off is in addition to whatever maternity leave your company offers. Ask your company's human resources representative about maternity leave and FMLA.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act says it's unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related health conditions. Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same way as other employees with similar abilities or limitations. If you feel you're being discriminated against at work because you're pregnant, contact your company's human resources representative.
When should I tell my boss I'm pregnant?
That's up to you. Some women tell their bosses as soon as they find out they're pregnant. Others wait a while. Whichever you choose, make sure that your boss hears the news from you. You don't want him to hear it from a coworker or as a rumor. If you're having common pregnancy discomforts, like having to go to the bathroom a lot or feeling tired all the time, you should tell him so he understands why you may be acting differently at work.