When to tell the boss you’re pregnant

There are no hard and fast rules around when you should tell the boss you’re pregnant, but the savvy approach is to plan the announcement before you start showing or friends and colleagues realise somethings up. It’s important to allay any fear about how the boss might react to your need to take maternity leave and/or how it might impact your standing within the business and opportunity for future promotion.

Relax, you’re not the first female employee to have a baby and you won’t be the last, even prime ministers are doing it. It’s equally important to recognise that there are laws and guidelines that outline how you and your employer should handle your pregnancy.

For starters, you needs to familiarise yourself with the company’s maternity leave policy. Assuming there is one, find out how much notice you are obliged to give (your employer) before going on leave, and when you can apply for unpaid parental leave.

Under Australian law you are entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave.

As a general rule, pregnant women are encouraged to give their employer at least ten weeks’ prior notice, particularly if they want to take any form of paid leave. There’s an expectation under National Employment Standard (NES) that most parental leave arrangements, including unpaid parental leave, will commence six weeks prior to your due date.

Assuming you’re planning to do this, you’ll need to tell your employer about your pregnancy no later than the end of your second trimester – which is week 27.

But that doesn’t mean you have stop working at that point. Whether you work during the last weeks of your pregnancy depends on A) whether you want to, B) you’re fit to continue working, C) it is safe for you to continue your normal duties, and D) your boss is comfortable for you to do so.

But remember, as a pregnant woman you do have the right to continue working, unless there are occupational health and safety-related issues.

Once you decide to tell your boss you’re pregnant, make sure there’s sufficient time to discuss how you’re both going to manage the ‘before and after’ periods. For example, are there deadlines that need to be met before you leave, who will you assign unfinished business to?

Equally important, how will you manage the return to work, will it be staged, will you resume a five-day week immediately, and what other considerations does your boss need to be mindful of? As with most things in life, the best win-win outcome for you and your boss will require an element of give and take.

However, that doesn’t grant your boss the licence to discriminate or treat you unfairly due to your pregnancy. If you feel you are being unfairly treated as a result of being pregnant, you need to familiarise yourself with your rights by visiting the Fairwork Ombudsman website.

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