How to Announce Your Pregnancy at Work

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Telling your boss about your pregnancy can be scary. Even though there are laws protecting people who are pregnant from discrimination at work, you may worry about how announcing a pregnancy may change the dynamic between you and your employer. 

Researching your state’s pregnancy protection laws, your company’s policies, and the family and medical leave laws in your state ahead of time may help you feel more prepared for what lies ahead. Here are some tips for how to share the news of your pregnancy at work.

Know Your Benefits

Before you drop the big news, be sure that you are prepared with knowledge about your company’s family leave policy and which family and medical leave laws apply to you. 

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for the birth of a child and to care for a new baby. FMLA does not cover every employed person, though.

You may qualify for FMLA if:

  • Your employer engages in commerce and employs more than 50 people
  • Your employer is a public agency, regardless of the number of employees
  • Your employer is a private or public elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees

Your employee handbook will likely detail FMLA benefits and any other extended leave benefits that your company offers. If you need help accessing your handbook, your human resources department can help you. 

Consider Timing

Waiting too long to tell your employer about your pregnancy can cause anxiety, but telling them too early can put you in a vulnerable position. So, what is the right time to announce a pregnancy at work?

Often, people wait until after the first trimester to share their pregnancy news with their boss. At this stage, the greatest risk of miscarriage has passed. Plus, it won’t be long before your bump starts to show.

Sharing news early in the second trimester gives you time to consider your own needs, research your company’s benefits, and prepare for the conversation. It also offers your employer many months of advance notice.

Some situations may throw a wrench into your ideal timing. For instance, if you are experiencing morning sickness or have a lot of doctor’s appointments that interfere with work, you’ll have to break the news sooner. 

Similarly, if you have an upcoming performance review you may want to consider whether sharing your news ahead of it could negatively influence the review. Some people choose to wait until after a review to share their big news with their boss.

If you are working in a hazardous environment or with hazardous chemicals, you should consider telling your employer sooner so that they can offer safe accommodations.

Tell Your Boss First

It may be tempting to tell your coworkers about your pregnancy before you tell your boss. After all, your coworkers might be friends you spend time with over breaks and even outside of work. However, there may be pitfalls involved in telling others at work about your pregnancy before you tell your boss.

Be Professional

The biggest risk in telling coworkers before your boss is that your boss may end up learning about your pregnancy from someone else. This can lead to an uncomfortable situation where your boss is afraid to ask you about it. 

While federal law does not prohibit an employer from asking whether you are pregnant, employers are advised against it since it can be perceived as an intent to discriminate. Telling your boss first is the most professional thing you can do.

Be Prepared

Choose a time when your boss is not in a rush or overwhelmed by other things. Scheduling a time for the conversation is a good idea. If there isn't a quiet, private place where you work, ask to use another office or see if you can grab a cup of coffee or a quick lunch with your boss to have the conversation.

Be prepared to answer questions your boss will likely have, such as whether you plan to return to work after you give birth. Assure your boss that you are prepared to train your temporary replacement and that you are committed to making the transition as seamless as possible.

Make Adjustments to Your Duties

If you are working a physically demanding or stressful job or are working in a hazardous environment, you may need to request accommodations that are safer for your pregnancy. 

While a majority of people report needing accommodations at work during pregnancy, most people don’t ask for it.

Some common desired adjustments include:

  • More frequent breaks
  • Less lifting/more sitting
  • Time off for prenatal appointments

Every state has different laws with regards to an employer’s responsibility to provide accommodations to pregnant people. Before engaging in a conversation with your boss about accommodations you may need, be sure to familiarize yourself with the laws in your state.

Figure Out Who Will Cover for You

Depending on your workplace, you may have very little or a lot to say about who will fill in for you while you are on leave. Regardless, coming to the table with ideas for coverage tells your boss that you are committed to the company and ensuring a smooth transition. It also demonstrates your desire to return to your position after your leave.

You may want to talk to others at the company who have taken a leave of absence and had to find or train a temporary replacement. Ask them what worked well and what didn’t. 

In addition, consider your own boundaries. What kind of access will your workplace expect to have to you while you are on leave? Will you be expected to tend to emails or calls from management or clients? If so, think about how to set limitations, such as agreeing to respond on certain days or after certain hours.

Know Your Rights

Many people are frightened about telling their boss. They fear that they will lose their jobs. Losing your job because of pregnancy is considered discrimination, and there are laws in place to protect you. You can't be fired for being pregnant.

Federal FMLA laws provide 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave in a 12 month period for the following:

  • The birth of a child and to care for a newborn
  • Adoption or foster care placement
  • To care for a spouse, parent, or child who has a health condition
  • To receive care or recover from a serious health condition
  • A qualifying demand of a spouse, child, or parent who is on active duty military

In addition to federal FMLA, some states have family and medical leave laws with even greater protection. Look into the family and medical leave laws in your state to determine which protections apply to you.

If You Are Discriminated Against

Discrimination against pregnant people in the workplace is illegal. You may experience discrimination if you are treated less favorably than others or impacted unfairly by policies or practices. If you feel you are being discriminated against because you are pregnant, there are things you can do.

Steps to take if you experience workplace discrimination:

  • Document instances of discrimination
  • Report discrimination in writing to your human resource department
  • File a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

A Word From Verywell

Telling your employer your pregnancy news can be unnerving. Learning about your company’s policies and family and medical leave laws can help you feel prepared and more at ease. 

Remember, there are laws that protect pregnant people from being discriminated against in the workplace. If you feel that you are being discriminated against because you are pregnant, document the experience(s) and report the situation. 

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  2. LII / Legal Information Institute Cornell Law School. 29 CFR § 825.104 - Covered employer. Updated January 9, 2017.

  3. Dugas C, Slane V. Miscarriage. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Updated January 29, 2021.

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  6. Center for WorkLife Law. Pregnancy accommodations.

  7. National Conference of State Legislatures. State family and medical leave laws. Updated December 2014. 

  8. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs U.S. Department of Labor. Know Your Rights, Workplace Rights.Updated 2016.

  9. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Filing a charge of discrimination