I’ve written before on best practices around asking your boss for a raise. Other than asking for that raise, talking about being preggo — and the potential impact that will have on your career — is one of the most important conversations you’re going to have with your boss. No pressure, right? Well, don’t worry, I got you.
Here’s my advice.
When you do have that talk, you should have these documents on hand and filled out as much as possible, before you meet with your boss:
If you’ve already had conversations with your boss or human resources department over email regarding family leave, you should print those out and/or bring notes from phone conversations, so you can ensure that you and your boss are both up to speed with what’s been covered so far.
Protect yourself by keeping actual, physical copies of any applications or forms you submit in a folder that you can easily access. You should keep copies of any forms submitted by your partner, as well, and make sure to compare notes to ensure all of your bases are covered (and that you don’t experience delays due to failing to file the appropriate paperwork, or duplicating efforts!). Remember, it’s your job to know your rights so you can make the most of them.
Now it’s time to think about timing.
Ideally, you would have The Talk about how things will change during your maternity leave with your boss and coworkers before you start to show, thereby giving everyone maximum time to plan for your absence and diminishing any unnecessary office speculation. Set aside some actual time to talk through it, aka send a calendar invitation; don’t just blurt it out in the elevator. Be ready to discuss when your last day might be, how long you will be gone, and who will cover your responsibilities while you’re away. The better prepared you are with concrete dates and facts, the better prepared your team will be to crush it in your absence.
Still at a loss for what to say? Here is a little role-playing to get you started:
You: Thanks for making the time for this meeting! I’m excited to share the news that I am pregnant, expecting a baby in [insert your due date here].
You: I’ve taken a look at our company’s policies in the employee handbook, and have filed my FMLA application with HR. Here’s a copy of that for your records. I see here that we offer four weeks at full pay, then another four weeks at 80%. I plan to take the full 12 weeks allowed to me under FMLA, which will have me back in the office on [the date 12 weeks after your due date].
Boss: That sounds reasonable, thanks for letting me know. Have you given any thought to who might assume your responsibilities while you’re out?
You: I have! In the next few months, I plan to loop Stacy in to work with my existing clients, so that she will be up to speed with those clients before I leave. Any clients that come in while I am out can be managed by Emily, who has recently started ramping up her projects. And I think this would be a great time for Jared to step into a more supporting role, since he has been with the company for a year and was recently asking about opportunities to take on more responsibility.
Boss: Wow, you’ve really thought this through! That sounds like a reasonable plan. Is there anything else you need from me?
You: Yes, I’m glad you asked. I would like to discuss working from home one day per week while I’m pregnant and once I’m back in the office after maternity leave. This way I can line up my doctor’s appointments for one day per week, which I feel will be less disruptive to our workflow. After the baby is born, this will also help my family to cut down on childcare costs while giving me more time with the baby. I can use this day to catch up on email, filing expense reports, and other tasks which do not require for me to be in the office. I’ve noticed that we typically have few meetings on Fridays, so I thought that would be a good day for me to be at home. However, I am open to your suggestions and would like to work together to find a suitable day for the team.
Boss: Thank you, I appreciate that. You’ve always been a terrific employee and I think we can make that work.
You: Thank you, I am thrilled to have your support during this very exciting time and will keep you in the loop as things develop!
Be sure to send a follow up email with the details you discuss in the meeting so that your boss has a written summary to refer to later. And, while you don’t want to be “that girl” getting all TMI with the nitty-gritty details, do keep your boss looped in to when you need to be out of the office for appointments and other pregnancy-related obligations.
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