Maternity Leave: Creating Your Plan and Telling the Boss

It seems congratulations are in order! Like most new moms, you’re probably feeling a mix of excitement and quite a few questions regarding the arrival of your baby. These questions may include things like how to plan for maternity leave and how to let your boss know that you are pregnant.

It’s often said that there’s no perfect time to get pregnant. While the timing may not always be ideal, the way you handle your pregnancy in the workplace can be perfect. All it takes is a little advanced preparation and good communication.

Here is the essential information on how to inform your boss you’re expecting and how to create the perfect maternity leave plan.

Telling Your Boss

First things first, when is the right time to make your big announcement at work? Ultimately, it’s your decision as to how and when you want to tell people at work that you’re pregnant. Nevertheless, whenever you do decide that you’re ready for people to know, I recommend starting with your boss.

Avoid the awkwardness of employee gossip reaching your boss before you can be the one to properly inform him or her. And when it comes to finding the right time to tell your superior, consider the following factors:

  • The risk of a miscarriage. Many women choose to wait until after their first trimester before telling coworkers of their pregnancy. At this point, your risk of miscarriage will be significantly lower.
  • How you’re feeling. If you’re throwing up at work, feeling exhausted, or are starting to show, you may want to consider letting your boss know why you are feeling this way.
  • The nature of your work. If your workplace is more hazardous, such as a construction site or a lab, it may be wise to inform your boss so that you can be reassigned to a safer location.
  • Your status at work. Be strategic when you tell your coworkers that you’re pregnant. If you know that a big performance review is coming up or if you’re in line for a promotion, it wouldn’t hurt to wait on making your announcement.

Once you’ve established when you want to tell your boss, ensure that you are up to speed on your company’s policies and your rights for maternity leave. Set up a time or an appointment to properly sit down with your boss. And don’t forget to be confident and happy when you announce your pregnancy. After all, this is a happy time and you have no reason to be apologetic!

You should have somewhat of a plan mapped out in your head so that you can tell your boss what your expectations are right from the start. And once you have gone over the details, remember to put it in writing so as to avoid an unnecessary game of ‘he said, she said’ down the road.

Your Maternity Leave Plan Checklist

Now, onto creating your maternity leave plan. This is not a mandatory document and many women don’t even make one. But if you want to stay on top of your work, communicate efficiently with your colleagues, and avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, a maternity leave plan is the way to go.

This will be the document that you, your managers, and coworkers can refer back to for any questions related to your maternity leave.

  1. Start with your due date and work backward from there for your planning.
  2. Set a schedule of what projects and tasks you realistically plan on accomplishing before you leave.
  3. Assign people tasks that you won’t be able to complete during your leave. Make sure to notify them of this and get your manager’s approval if necessary.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask your manager or HR department for help if you can’t find people to assign your tasks to. This will give them adequate time to interview and hire a temporary employee to fill in for you.
  5. Establish how long you intend to be on leave for. Of course, things change and don’t always go according to plan, especially when it comes to babies. But this will serve as a general time frame of what your intentions and expectations are.
  6. Answer questions that relate to the work you will be or will not be doing while you’re gone. How much contact will you have with your team? If so, how can they reach you? Will you do any work while you’re gone? These are important questions to answer for both your knowledge and your coworkers’.
  7. Think about how you want to make your return to work. Do you want to come back little by little, starting with part-time work? Or do you plan on coming back full-time right away? And will you need to make changes to your schedule? It’s best to think about this now so that you can speak with your boss and managers in advance about schedule negotiations.
  8. Consider how breastfeeding may affect your work. If you decide to nurse your baby, you will have to pump during the workday. This will require time away from your desk.

Benefits for You and Your Company

A maternity leave plan is a wonderful way to avoid unnecessary confusion, stress, and anxiety. Answering the necessary questions that your coworkers and superiors may have will establish strong communication and success.

Most importantly, your plan will help you to have a smooth departure and return to work while you’re experiencing the first moments of motherhood.