Thursday, May 14, 2009

How to Tell the Boss You're Pregnant (Part 2)

First, do your homework. Find out what your maternity leave options are. Do some research and review your employee handbook. Or discreetly contact a human resources representative who can inform you of your employer's formal policies regarding pregnancy and maternity leave. HR representatives will likely offer you informed and objective advice, since they've probably counseled many women in similar situations, and they won't be personally affected by your upcoming absence.

You may also want to confer with your co-workers who have already traveled this path. (Make sure you can trust them with your confidence, as you'll want to be the first one to tell your boss.) Ask them what their maternity leave proposals were like and what kind of a response they got when they announced their pregnancies as well as who in management was helpful -- and who wasn't.

Then, make a plan. Figure out how much time you think you'll want to take. If you're considering unpaid leave, think about how much time you can reasonably afford to go without your salary. Consider whether you'll want to take maternity leave in one block of time or whether you'd rather split it out over the year. Plan to offer your boss solutions rather than problems by having some ideas for how your work can be handled while you're away.

Your boss may want to know whether you plan to return to work after your leave. If you know that you won't be coming back, the ethical thing to do is to let your employer know up front even though it means forfeiting your benefits. That said, if there's any chance that you will return to work, it's smart to leave this question open. It can be hard to predict how you'll feel once you have a baby and what your needs as a family will be in terms of time and income. You have until the end of your leave to decide whether you'll come back full-time, part-time, or not at all, although it's nice to give your boss as much notice as you can.



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