How to Tell Your Boss You're Pregnant

woman in office with baby bump

Telling your boss that you are pregnant can be incredibly daunting. But does it have to be?

Pregnant women are protected in the workplace, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn’t be mindful of the stage we are at in our careers. We can think about how best to balance the timing while also remaining respectful and in keeping with the legal requirements when it comes to telling your employer.


What Does the Law Say?

Legally, you are required to tell your employer that you are pregnant by the 25th week of pregnancy, so 15 weeks before your baby is due to be born, if you are going to be claiming statutory maternity pay. This is known legally as the ‘notification week’. Effectively, therefore, there is no immediate rush to tell your employer that you are pregnant.

There are some benefits to telling your boss sooner rather than later, such as:

  • If you have a pregnancy-related illness, or in common cases, sickness from an early stage, your employer will be more understanding of absences - Pregnancy-related absences/sicknesses are to be recorded separately. Such absences cannot be used against you in disciplinary, redundancy or dismissal decisions.
  • You are entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments, which includes but is not limited to: midwife appointments, doctor’s appointments, physiotherapy appointments and antenatal classes such as aqua-natal and pregnancy yoga that have been recommended to you by your midwife. Remember that although you are entitled to this, your employer can ask you for proof.
  • As soon as you have told your employer you are pregnant, you are protected from unfair treatment or dismissal.
  • Your employer will carry out the necessary risk assessments to ensure your workplace is safe for you.
  • Telling your employer early means that you have plenty of time to arrange your maternity pay and leave with the support of your employer.
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Do I need to write a letter?

There is nothing written in the law about how you should tell your boss that you are pregnant, but there are some things to keep in mind when you do come to share the news with them.

As mentioned earlier, you must tell your boss that you are pregnant by the 25th week of your pregnancy if you are claiming statutory maternity pay. Therefore, it is recommended that you tell your boss in a letter, date stamped so that there are no issues or questions regarding complying with the law relating to the notification week.

You can also use the letter as an opportunity to tell your boss what date you are thinking of starting your maternity leave. It is always better to have a paper trail in terms of looking after your interests, but you can, of course, have a more informal discussion with your boss as well as provide a letter if that is the type of relationship you have with them and how you wish to announce your news.
After all, this is a very exciting time and sharing your joy with others may be something you can’t wait to do!

Although it can be difficult, you should try and refrain from telling your colleagues in the office that you are pregnant before you tell your boss, to respect your employer and make the process a little easier.

As mentioned earlier, balancing the timing that works best for you and your career.
As long as you are in keeping with the notification week, if you have a pay rise consideration coming up or an employee appraisal, you may want to wait until after this to tell your employer that you are pregnant. Of course, your employer cannot discriminate against you in terms of a pay rise just because you are pregnant, but if you would feel more comfortable waiting until after this has occurred, then you can. Your employer cannot back-track or change the terms of your contract whilst you are pregnant or on maternity leave.

Try not to be scared!

The fact that you are having a family has no bearing whatsoever on your career. You can still be incredibly successful in the workplace while growing your family. Although it can be a bit scary approaching your employer with your pregnancy news, if you keep these tips in mind, doing so should be a straightforward, smooth and relaxing process.

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