The law on pregnancy at work is straightforward: An employer cannot fire you because you are pregnant, if you are still able to perform the basic duties of your job. Still, it makes sense to think carefully about how and when to announce a pregnancy, and here are some ideas (but not actual legal advice):
1.) Be sure you know your employer’s maternity leave policy and your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Make sure you know whether you are covered under the FMLA.
2.) Consider talking to trusted co-workers with children to see if they had any problems with your employer’s reaction to their pregnancy, and if they can identify any particularly helpful (or unhelpful) managers or HR employees.
3.) Consider waiting until after the first trimester, just like many women do with their friends and family anyway. If morning sickness or other issues are affecting your work, however, then you should consider disclosing the situation earlier.
4.) If it is possible, consider waiting until after a scheduled review of your job performance or other occasion where you expect to receive praise for your job well done.
5.) Have a private conversation with your supervisor to announce the pregnancy and expected due date. If you are covered by a leave policy or the FMLA, discuss the pending birth based on the assumption that you will be returning to work. If you already know that the pregnancy might have some affect on your job, consider discussing those issues, too.
6.) If you are not covered by the FMLA or your employer’s maternity leave policy, consider trying to get a written commitment from your employer to give you a leave (of a certain duration) and hold your job open for you.
7.) Be sure to keep a written record of all conversations regarding the pregnancy and save any communications on the subject.
If you are subjected to a negative action by your employer, such as a demotion, denial of a promotion, or firing shortly after announcing you are pregnant, you should consider consulting an employment lawyer. (See my Work It, Mom article “Suspect Your Employer is Discriminating Against You?”)
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