May 9, 2009
How to tell the boss you're expecting
Make no mistake: Employers can and do legally lay off pregnant women all the time; they just can't lay them off solely because they're pregnant, not legally anyway.
With everyone who's still employed jostling to prove themselves worthy of keeping around should layoffs darken their company's door, pregnant women may feel especially vulnerable this year.
That's why, when it comes to telling an employer that you're expecting, you need to be proactive, says Cali Williams Yost, CEO of Work+Life Fit, Inc., a firm that helps companies design flexible work programs. In addition to recommending that moms-to-be tell their employer the news as soon as possible (that is, once they've begun telling friends and family), Williams Yost offers these suggestions:
Plan to transition your projects to coworkers at least a month before your due date. That way, "You've created a cushion where junior's unplanned arrival doesn't cause chaos," she says.
Meet with your boss ahead of time to review your transition plan. Your boss will appreciate you taking the initiative. In fact, many are so worried about saying the wrong thing and breaking the law that they'll welcome you taking the lead.
Once your boss approves the plan, present it to your colleagues. Make sure you share all necessary e-mails, meeting invites, documents, and project background with those who will be filling in for you. Ditto for making any key introductions.
Resist the urge to delay handing off your responsibilities. Letting go and entrusting your projects to someone else may be harder than you expected, Williams Yost warns. But putting off the transition until the last possible moment will far more stressful -- for you and your coworkers.
Meet with HR to review FMLA, family leave, and disability policies. Make sure you're clear on the dates your various leaves and payments begin and end. Then give your boss the schedule. But remember, Williams Yost says, "This is just an estimate; babies have due dates but often arrive unannounced."
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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