Telling your employer that you are pregnant can be daunting for some women. Speaking to my friends who have been pregnant this seems an issue for a multitude of reasons and so I felt it was important to address this in a blog. At PregnaPouch we also care about women having low stress in their pregnancies and feel that addressing this issue which can cause worry might help women have a healthy pregnancy.
When to tell your employer?
It is worth checking out your contract as to when you need to tell your employer you are pregnant if you want to take maternity leave/pay. It is usually by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of confinement (the Sunday of or before the expected due date). So, if your due date was Wed 4th April 2018 your week of confinement would start on Sunday 1st April 2018.
However, it is also worth saying that frequently the date by which you have to tell work will fall after it is very obvious you are pregnant from your changing shape. Therefore, it is best to consider when it would suit you to tell work and there are several factors to consider. For example, if you are feeling really unwell in your first trimester, it might be worth telling them early so that you can alter your working pattern to suit your health or take time off if required. The other thing that is worth noting, is that if you feel you need to tell one person at work for support, it is within your rights to ask them to keep it confidential. You might also want to consider whether there is anything you want to have sorted in your mind before you tell them e.g. when you would like to go on maternity leave, whether you want to take their maternity pay (you might not take it if you plan to leave the job after you have your baby as you might otherwise have to pay it back – check this in your contract).
Furthermore, many women have work related factors that may determine when they feel it is best to share the news. For example, if you have recently started a new project you may feel you want to wait until its better established before sharing the news so to not destabilise it but this is totally up to you, everybody is different. Another example might be that you are in a new role and want to wait until l you are better known and feeling confident in the job before you share the news so that it is easier for you. There is no right and wrong here and you must not feel you have to share the news immediately. Do bear in mind though that it is probably best your work hears it directly from you rather than from the grapevine so bear in mind how much your personal and work life overlap.
How to tell your employer?
It is also worth thinking about how you want to tell work. You need to consider who the key people are that need to know first and this will be different for everybody. Initially, it might be your line manager and a supportive colleague and later other team members. You might want to get a plan together for your time off with your boss before telling more junior colleagues so that you feel you can give them a plan and some degree of certainty. You may feel you want to tell lots of people together and then you might want to consider the best environment for this – perhaps do it at the end of a meeting where people are all together anyway? It is totally up to you and might be worth talking through with your partner and/or friends/family first so you are clear in how you do it.
Do feel free to share your stories on how you did this by tweeting us (@PregnaPouch) or commenting on the blog or by emailing us at PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
Determining your rights
There are many sources of information to find out your rights of leave and maternity pay. The UK government website is helpful – here is a link to a page which helps you work out your rights: https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents.
Furthermore, your employer may outline your rights in your contract or in a handbook or other similar document with the policy of your organisation outlined in it. Many people find that it is helpful to understand your rights before telling your employer to make you feel more confident in the meeting. For example, one of my patient’s employer asked them how long they would take for their maternity leave when they were only 14 weeks pregnant which is not appropriate. This was quite daunting for the employee and she wasn’t sure what to do or say. Unfortunately, we still live in an era where often the woman has to educate the employer on HR Policies and it is important for women not to assume they will be treated fairly. It is worth checking what they are offered and that it is fair.
Having said that, many companies are now brilliant and have really flexible arrangements for pregnant women and women returning to work. If you feel you are not being treated well and feel a bit daunted, it could be worth taking somebody to the meeting with you who is confident in the area (for example another person in the organisation who has already had a child).
Other options for getting support about your rights include talking to friends and family to see what they think and to give you encouragement. You can also consider talking to your union if you have one or alternatively the citizens advice bureau.
What do you want?
Although it is clear that there are certain rights that you have – this should just be the foundation for how you then plan what you want and how you shape your pregnancy, your maternity leave and your return to work. It is important to know how much time off you are entitled to and what pay but these form simple parameters for you to help you think what you want. Furthermore, sometimes they are flexible and if your plan doesn’t seem to fit, consider how to flex the parameters.
I hope that this blog helps support you in considering telling your employer you are pregnant.
Any questions or comments do get in touch @PregnaPouch or PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
The PregnaPouch team
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