Pregnancy can be tough for any woman, however add in the balancing act of a career and workforce politics and you can be facing a stressful nine months.
Your legal rights
You have a legal right to be pregnant while at work and keep your job. Additionally, if your job requires stressful activity not approved for pregnancy, your manager is required to provide you reasonable accommodations.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website highlights the different discriminations that are illegal to hold against pregnant women. Furthermore, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has information on the reasonable accommodations employers must make for pregnant women. Lastly, you should check with your local and state laws to ensure your employer’s treatment is in regulation with the law.
Tips for informing management
Most women wait until the end of their first trimester to tell their manager that they are expecting. Unless your company requires notice for an anticipated leave, i.e, most companies’ policies state a minimum of two weeks’ notice for foreseeable leaves, you are under no obligation to tell your manager about your pregnancy by a specific time. When you do choose to inform her, here are the steps to help the conversation run smoothly:
- Identify the deadlines: Set up a one-on-one meeting with your manager and come prepared. Including a list of your key dates, including your due date, important doctor appointments that interfere with work and your anticipated return date. It also is helpful to include any projects you know you will miss and the steps you have taken to ensure a smooth transition to your temporary replacement.
- Keep good notes: If you know you are going to miss a major project, inform your manager of the notes you’ve taken to ensure the individual covering the project will be well informed. Include electronic file locations, hard copy notes, previous year samples, etc.
- Reassure your manager of your commitment to your job: Managers will often feel a slight panic as they worry whether you will return after you have the baby and who will cover your job while you are out. Help ease the anxiety by reminding your manager that you are committed to your career throughout and after your pregnancy and that you do not anticipate any interference to your day-to-day ability to work while you remain on the job.
Know when to get help
While you can take ever responsible step to ensure a smooth conversation and transition during your pregnancy, sometimes employers still will not treat you properly. Know when you need to get additional help. Be sure to document your conversations and communications with your manager and consider consulting your company’s HR department if you feel you have been treated improperly. Perhaps your manager’s actions fall outside of the company’s guidelines and a simple conversation with HR will help resolve the issues. However, if you feel you still are not receiving adequate support from your company, consider hiring a workforce attorney to review your case. It’s important that your legal right to work is not compromised by your pregnancy.