Telling an employer that you or your spouse is expecting a baby can be a nerve-wracking experience. It can be hard to know how a boss will react and whether it will impact your career. As a result, many people take different approaches to disclosing a pregnancy and starting the discussion on maternity or paternity leave, but there are a few things that employees can do to make the process easier.
To start, it can be helpful to talk with a coworker who has already been through the process. Their experience may offer insight into how things will go for you and what types of challenges to expect. If this discussion reveals that your employer could react badly or discriminate against an employee in some way because of a pregnancy or upcoming paternity leave, then this is an important time to consult with an experienced employment law specialist to find out about your options and your rights.
Next, plan the approach. A lot of expecting parents try to wait until the latest possible time to share the news, but this could make matters worse if it could put a rush on finding accommodations for an upcoming leave. Thinks carefully about timing and whether disclosing the information early might help make life a little easier for your employer.
As a part of planning the approach, also consider the best way to pitch any needed accommodations. For example, if some type of pregnancy-related illness means it would be easier and more comfortable to telecommute, think of a way to propose this as an advantage to your employer rather than an accommodation they won’t be happy with.
It is illegal to discriminate against employees who are pregnant or who have taken or will take a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. However, these things still happen in workplaces across the country, so it is important to be prepared and know your rights.
Source: USA Today, “On the Job: Maternity leave can be good for mom, firm,” Anita Bruzzese, Oct. 13, 2013.