When And How To Tell My Employer I’m Pregnant

Finding out you’re pregnant is an exciting time, and telling everyone is something to be treasured. But after you’ve let your parents, siblings and friends in on the big news, the next step is to tell your employer. Here are the answers to some common questions which will hopefully help.

 

When do I have to tell my employer that I am pregnant?
There is no legal requirement for you to tell your boss and/or HR that you’re pregnant and intend to take maternity leave until the 15th week before your baby is due. A lot of women choose to announce their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester (around 12 weeks), as it’s at this time the risk of miscarriage starts to come down and your bump may get tricky to hide.

You need to provide your employer with proof of your pregnancy to receive Statutory Maternity Pay. You do not need proof to take maternity leave. At least 21 days prior to your SMP start date you should give your employer either, a MatB1 form from your doctor or midwife or a letter from your doctor or midwife.

What is the best way to tell my boss?
  • Don’t let them hear it on the office grapevine. Gossip always spreads, and you’ll be outed. 
  • Don’t rush it, unless you really have to. Although there’s an unwritten rule that you wait for your 12 week scan before telling everyone, sometimes it’s really hard to hide the dreaded fatigue and morning sickness. So if you’re not ‘obviously’ pregnant then choose a time you feel most comfortable to fess up, but remember your hand might be forced as you can only blame it on the flu for so long. 
  • Do book a meeting, don’t mention it in passing in the kitchen or corridor. It’s important news and shouldn’t be treated casually. Make an appointment to tell your boss and go somewhere private, quiet and where you won’t be disturbed. You could even go out for lunch or a (decaf?) coffee. 
  • Do have some facts at your fingertips when asked, for example your due date and your initial thoughts about maternity leave. Consider how your absence might affect both your own job and the business as a whole, and make some constructive suggestions. If you have any ideas about cover for your job whilst you’re away, make sure you share them. 
  • Do have a list of questions to hand, so you don’t forget to ask anything important.
What if the news isn’t received well by my employers?
The vast majority of employers will be pleased to hear your news, but occasionally you may not get the reaction you’d hoped for. After all, life can through you a curveball sometimes.

Remain calm, professional and try not to worry; it is illegal for a company to sack you just because you’re pregnant or plan to go on maternity leave. However, if you really are concerned about anything negative, it might be worth waiting until the 20th week to disclose your news (if you can). This then proves you’re still able to effectively do your job even though you’re pregnant and could therefore offer your employer some peace of mind.

 

When do I have to tell my colleagues?
That’s entirely up to you! Chances are they’ll be pleased and excited and want to make a fuss so go right ahead if you feel comfortable to. However, if you’re feeling cautious about telling them and want to hold off, remember that they may need to cover your work if you’re ill or anything unexpected happens, so it’s worth telling them as much for respectful reasons as anything else.
When do I have to tell my employer how long I would like to take for maternity leave?
Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) lasts up to 52 weeks. You need to inform your employer that you want to take SML a minimum of 15 weeks before the start of the week your baby is due. As long as you have given the right amount of notice, you are entitled to SML regardless of how long you have worked for your employer.
When should my partner tell his employer to qualify for paternity leave?
To qualify for paternity leave your partner must have been working for their company for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due. Or if the baby arrives before then, the 26th week of employment needs to have commenced by the 15th week before the baby was originally due.
When do I have to let my employer know I’m coming back?
If you plan to take the whole 52 weeks maternity leave then you don’t need to tell your employer your expected date of return. However, if you wish to come back to work earlier, you must give at least eight weeks’ notice before the date you wish to return.