You know your boss and colleagues will start noticing that bulge on your tummy sooner or later. The only question is when and how to inform them that you are pregnant?
While there is no such thing as a perfect timing (it all depends on your level of comfort and your job nature), it pays to be prepared before you make your announcement.
Rule 1: Always do your research
Read your employee handbook and speak to experienced colleagues on the maternity leave policies and benefits for expectant employees. Was it difficult to apply for medical leave when they felt uncomfortable during their pregnancies? How did they cope with requests for overtime? Ask also about the company’s policy on flexi-time arrangements and tele-commuting.
If, after researching, you realise that your company’s culture is unfortunately, not so family-friendly, you may wish to think about delaying your announcement until you begin your second trimester (or until you cannot hide it further, whichever is earlier).By then, you would have proven your ability to perform while being pregnant, and would be in a better position to negotiate for maternity-friendly work arrangements.
Rule 2: Always check with your doctor
While you may feel you are ready to work all the way until your final trimester, your doctor may think otherwise. In general, most doctors would advise stopping work during the final weeks before you are due for delivery. But if you do have pregnancy complications and health issues, your doctor may advise you to stop work earlier, and this will affect your work arrangements.
Rule 3: Always have a clear plan
You have done your research and your doctor has given you an indication of when you may need to stop working before delivery. But don’t go to see your boss just yet – not without a clear plan.
Will you be taking the full four months or do you intend to return earlier? Do you intend to return to work on a full-time or part-time basis? How do you plan to facilitate the handover of your work before you start taking your maternity leave? Is there a need to readjust your job scope if your current job is physically strenuous?
Think through these important issues and have your plan ready before you get ready to share the news with your boss.
Rule 4: Always tell your boss first
There’s always this urge to share the good news with your colleagues at work, before your tell your boss. Don’t. The last thing you want is to have your boss find out about your pregnancy because he happened to overhear your colleagues’ discussion at the pantry.
Choose an appropriate timing to meet your boss, and if need be, book a meeting timeslot with him or her. If he or she is not a morning person, you are better off scheduling your meeting in the afternoon. If there’s a deadline looming, you may want to wait for the project to be over before booking a meeting.
Your boss will likely have concerns over how your pregnancy will affect your working abilities and how your workload will be handled during your maternity leave.
Discuss your plans with your boss and reassure him or her that you will do your best to ensure a smooth handover before your go on your maternity leave.
In addition, take the opportunity to discuss possible flexi-time or telecommuting arrangements, or reallocation of work, in anticipation of discomforts during pregnancy that may make it more feasible and productive to work from home.
Rule 5: Always put it on record
You’ve finally plucked up the courage and spoken to your boss about your pregnancy. Before you congratulate yourself on a job well-done, always remember to put everything down in black and white to minimise any misunderstanding later on.
Summarise all the key discussion points: when you intend to start and end your maternity leave, any flexi-time arrangements, how you intend to facilitate the handover and so on, put these into a memo or email and send it to your boss immediately after the meeting.
After that is done, you can choose to inform your colleagues or let your boss break the news to them. Bear in mind some colleagues may react negatively to the news of your pregnancy. Whatever it is, by preparing yourself mentally, you will be in a better position to respond professionally to negative reactions from your boss or colleagues.