When you discover that you are pregnant, it's likely you will be bursting at the seams to share the news. However, when notifying your employer about the impending arrival of your bundle of joy, it's important to do your research about the benefits your company offers and know your rights when asking for maternity leave.
Even though you may want to shout the news from the rooftop once you find out you are pregnant, it's best to wait until you are at least 12 weeks along to ensure the pregnancy is viable, according to Tammy Gold, New York-based psychotherapist and parenting coach. "Do not discuss any plans for the future if you are at all uncertain about the pregnancy," says Gold. Once you receive the all-clear from your physician after 12 weeks, the time is right to approach your boss.
Before asking for maternity leave, consider how long you have been in the position, how connected you feel to your work and to relationships in the job place and your sense of your own performance in your job, suggests Lisa Danylchuk, California-based psychotherapist. The stronger you feel about yourself as an employee and about your relationships at work, the more likely it will be that people will receive your request well, especially if you plan to ask for an extended maternity leave or request to work from home after the baby is born, she says.
Know Your Rights
Find out your company’s maternity leave policy before having a discussion with your boss, recommends Maren Thomas Banner, founder of LittleLane, an online resource for parents. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to grant up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period to care for a newborn child. Contact your company’s human resources department to determine if you have vacation or sick leave time you could use during maternity leave, especially if you prefer to take more than 12 weeks.
When meeting with your boss, be clear about what you need but also emphasize your commitment to your job, recommends Thomas Banner. Talk with your boss first before telling any co-workers and come to the meeting with constructive ideas for how to cover your duties during your absence. “It’s important to demonstrate your commitment to your employer, but also remember that your life is about to change dramatically, so you may want to leave some room for flexibility,” she says.