How to Tell Your Boss You're Pregnant
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Telling your workplace you’re pregnant can be scary! In fact, 21% of expecting parents are worried about telling their boss they’re having a baby, according to a 2018 study. Part of the worry is simply not knowing when or how to tell your boss you’re pregnant. While there are no hard-and-fast rules that dictate the ideal time or words to share your news, we’ve got some helpful tips to follow that’ll make the process way less stressful. Here, the guidance you need for telling your boss you’re pregnant.
When to Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant
Technically, you don’t have to share your “I’m expecting” news with your boss until your third trimester. Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you only have to give your employer at least 30 days notice before you head out on parental leave. (If you work at a company with at least 50 employees for at least a year, you’re likely protected by FMLA.) Of course, that doesn’t mean cutting it that close is the best move! You should give yourself—and your team—time to prepare for your leave. Plus, once you spill the beans, you can be up front with your colleagues about needing to leave for prenatal visits. That’s why folks often tell their boss they’re pregnant around the end of the first trimester, when they may be starting to show—and the risk of miscarriage goes down. But, again, that’s not a rigid rule.
Should I tell my boss early that I’m pregnant?
To determine if you should share your pregnancy news early, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have significant morning sickness?
Are you experiencing extreme fatigue?
Will frequent doctor appointments cause issues at work?
Are you sharing your news with coworkers or folks on social media?
Does your job require strenuous or hazardous work?
Does your job put you in close contact with potentially harmful chemicals?
Do you need accommodations?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may consider telling your boss you’re expecting sooner rather than later. Perhaps most importantly, if you’re concerned that your early pregnancy symptoms may affect you on the job, sharing your news will help legally protect you from being fired and can allow you to get any accommodations you need. That’s because both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and—as of June 27, 2023—The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) protect you against pregnancy discrimination. The former makes it illegal to fire (or discriminate against) you based on your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and the later requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Is 20 weeks too late to tell your boss you’re pregnant?
No! You can share your pregnancy news whenever you feel comfortable. Just keep in mind the FMLA rules about 30-days notice. For many expecting parents, it’s better for them to tell their boss they're pregnant in their second trimester. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might want to wait until the 20-week mark or later, too:
Have you experienced a pregnancy loss in the past and feel uncomfortable sharing too soon?
Are you still adjusting to the idea of being pregnant?
Are you up for a raise or a promotion?
Are you set to have a performance review shortly?
It’s important to note that your workplace cannot legally retaliate against you for becoming pregnant by, say, refusing to promote you. However, some expecting parents may worry that their employer might try to discriminate against them anyway. If you’re on-edge about revealing your news, it’s perfectly okay to take your time sharing. In the end, figuring out when to announce your pregnancy to your boss is a highly individual decision.
When should I tell HR I’m pregnant?
You can chat with HR after you talk to your boss or beforehand, depending on your situation. HR will be able to fully fill you in on the ins and outs of your company's parental leave policies.
Workplace Rights to Know Before You Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant
Employment laws and parental leave programs vary from state to state and business to business, which is why you should educate yourself regarding laws and leave policies. Here are some key points to review:
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978: This legislation outlawed pregnancy discrimination under federal law and ensured that all pregnant folks who work for a company with at least 15 employees have the same benefits and accommodations as non-pregnant employees. For instance, if your company allows employees with medical conditions to do temporary “light duty” work instead, they must allow a pregnant person to have that option.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: As of June 27, 2023, the PWFA takes the above legislation further by stressing “reasonable accommodations” must be made available to pregnant workers under penalty of the law. According to the ACLU, PWFA was needed because despite the 1978 law, many employers still routinely denied pregnant workers temporary job modifications they needed. Now, employers cannot get out of offering proper accommodations unless it would cause an “undue hardship.”
Your state’s policies on pregnancy and parental leave: Look your state up on the A Better Balance website to learn all about the policies that impact you. It’s good to know tidbits like, in California and New York, some employers must offer a certain amount of paid leave to new parents.
Religious organizations’ “loophole”: At most organizations, pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees. However, some courts have noted that having a baby outside of marriage may “violate the organizations’ principles condemning premarital sex,” which may lead to discrimination.
Your company’s parental leave policy: Dig out the employee handbook to learn your company’s policy so that you can go into conversations about your pregnancy well informed.
FMLA: Regardless of your company’s policy, through this national policy, private companies with 50 or more employees (and public agencies) must provide new or expecting parents 12 weeks of leave over a 12-month period to care for themselves and/or their new baby. Just keep in mind that there is no national mandate for paid leave, so if you are relying solely on FMLA, you will need to prepare to take unpaid leave.
How do I tell my boss I’m pregnant?
Telling your parents and your BFF you’re pregnant is not at all like sharing the news with your boss—no cute ideas necessary! Instead, you want to be prepared and professional. To help, follow this “how to tell your boss you’re pregnant” advice:
Tell your boss before colleagues. No matter how much you adore your “work spouse,” it’s always best to share your pregnancy news with your boss before you tell others in your workplace. After all, you do not want your supervisor to learn you’re pregnant through the workplace grapevine. The exception: If you have reason to believe your boss won’t be supportive—or will take your pregnancy news badly—consider speaking to a trusted HR colleague before sharing.
Put yourself on your boss’ calendar. To guarantee an uninterrupted chat, consider scheduling a brief meeting with your boss to share that you’re pregnant. Depending on your workplace, a more casual office pop-in with a “do you have a few minutes?” can be just fine, too. (If possible, pick a day and time that’s quiet.)
Have an in-person meeting. If you work in the same office, it’s best to share your pregnancy news face-to-face. If that’s not possible, consider a Zoom call. If neither are possible, over the phone is acceptable.
Anticipate specific questions. Run through what your boss’ questions might be—and be prepared to have answers. For example, if your boss asks about parental leave, you can say, “I have some initial thoughts, but would love to schedule a time to go over the details in X weeks.”
Jot down your own questions. If you’re unclear on your company’s policies or processes-— like who you should meet with in HR regarding your benefits—come prepared to ask about them!
Keep it brief. During your “I’m pregnant” meeting you do not need to delve into your maternity leave plans or the details of who will be taking over your responsibilities. You can nod to those points, but it’s best to schedule another meeting to dive into the nitty gritty later.
Get a follow-up meeting on the books. Mention that you’re already navigating the particulars of family leave and that you’re eager to have a plan in action. “I’d love to schedule another meeting where we can look over some concrete details about timing and who’ll cover for me.”
Talk about confidentiality. If you’re not planning on sharing your pregnancy news with your coworkers just yet, let your boss know so they don’t accidentally announce your pregnancy during the next staff lunch. Try saying something like, “I wanted to share my pregnancy news with you as early as possible, but I’m waiting to share with the rest of the office.” Or “I wanted to share my news with you first, but I’d love to tell my team myself down the road.”
Sample Scripts for Telling Your Boss You’re Pregnant
Finding the right words to tell your boss you’re pregnant can be tricky. To help, familiarize yourself with the following scripts. Remember, there’s no need to memorize these “how to tell your boss you’re pregnant” scripts word for word! Read, ponder, and tweak to fit your specific workplace vibe.
I’m expecting and due in XX month. I’m set to talk to HR to discuss my options on XX date, so once I know more we can start planning!
I am happy to share that I’m expecting! The baby is due in XX month. I know we’ve got plenty of time, but I’d love to start figuring out my maternity leave and return-to-work plan soon! I don’t have many details yet, but I look forward to starting an open dialogue on the process.
I’m pregnant and due XX month. In the next XX weeks, I’d love to put our heads together so we can prepare for my absence and return to work.
I’m thrilled to announce that I’m pregnant! The baby isn’t due till XX month, so we have a lot of time to plan. I’m just starting to pull together notes on my tasks and responsibilities, so we can devise a plan for my leave—and a smooth return.
I have some personal news. I’m pregnant and due XX month. Soon, I’ll have more info to share about my parental leave and work coverage plans. But for right now, I just wanted to share my that I’m expecting.
I wanted to let you know that I’m expecting. After the baby arrives in XX month, I plan on taking some leave and then returning to work afterward. I’m working on a plan now and will circle back in a few weeks with more details to go over.
I have some exciting news to share! I am expecting a baby on XX date. I've reviewed our parental leave policy and am working on a plan. We have time to delve into the specifics and logistics, but I wanted to let you know that I’m already on it!
I’m excited to share with you that I’m pregnant and due in XX month. I’ve already given some thought to coverage while I’m away. In XX weeks, can we get together and discuss?
More for Employed Parents:
- What to Write in Your Maternity Leave Out-of-Office Email
- 5 Benefits That Go a Long Way to Support Working Parents
- Returning to Work After Parental Leave? Here’s Your Game Plan
- All About Paternity Leave
- Bright Horizons: Modern Family Index Index 2018
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fact Sheet #28Q: Taking Leave from Work for Birth, Placement, and Bonding with a Child under the FMLA
- March of Dimes: Miscarriage
- U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commision: Pregnancy Discrimination and Pregnancy-Related Disability Discrimination
- U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commision: What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
- National Partnership for Women and Families: Pregnancy Rights in the Workplace
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Three Reasons Why Congress Must Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Now
- American Association of University Women: 7 Things to Know About Pregnancy Discrimination
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.