Telling your boss you’re pregnant

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Telling your manager, you’re pregnant can be quite a daunting experience and there really is no perfect time to broach the topic of pregnant. Your decision to tell your manager is based on personal preference. There can be many different factors as to why you want to tell them earlier rather than later and this can be down to how you feel, how pregnant you look, the type of work you do and how family/friendly your company is (or isn’t!)

Some women find it incredibly difficult to tell their boss that they’re pregnant. It’s such an exciting moment for the individual and her partner, family and friends but the idea of the company not being so warming to the idea can be incredibly stressful, worrying and scary. With so much negativity in the press of late about pregnant women in the workplace – whether applying for a job, or already in employment, telling your boss your big news, may be the one thing you don’t want to tick off your list of ‘to do.’

In a recent report, MP’s demand urgent action, calling on the Government to publish an ambitions detailed plan within the next two years or risk a further rise in pregnant women and mothers being forced out of their workplace. Pregnant employees have 4 main legal rights:

  1. Paid time off for antenatal care*
  2. Maternity leave
  3. Maternity pay or maternity allowance
  4. Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination and dismissal

Even though these guidelines are pointed out GOV.UK, there are a fair number of pregnant women and mothers who report more discrimination and poor treatment in work now than they did a decade ago. According to a report by The Women and Equalities Committee “with record numbers of women in work in 2016, the situation is likely to decline further unless it is tackled effectively now. Urgent action and leadership is needed, but the approach that the Government is taking forward lacks urgency and bite. There is a lack of detail about the Government’s objectives, how and when it expects to achieve them, and how the effectiveness of its approach will be assessed. We welcome the awareness-raising work that the Government is doing with the EHRC and businesses, but it needs to set out a detailed plan outlining the specific actions it will take to tackle this unacceptable level of discrimination. This work must be underpinned by concrete actions to increase significantly compliance by employers and so improve women’s lives.

The Government must make changes in laws and protections to ensure a safe working environment for new and expectant mothers, to prevent discriminatory redundancies and to increase protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers. It must also provide incentives and ensure better enforcement to encourage better employer practice. Currently, the burden of enforcement rests with the individual experiencing discrimination, but the number of women taking enforcement action is low. The Government must take urgent action to remove barriers to justice and should seek ways of reducing the burden on women and making it easier for them to take action. It must also set out how it will monitor whether outcomes are improving for women.”

You must tell your employer before a certain time

You need to tell your employer that you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the week when your baby is due. If you didn’t realise you were pregnant, you must tell your employer as soon as possible. You should also tell them when you’d like to stat your Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay.

The earlier you can tell your employer the better for two reasons:

  1. Your maternity leave
  2. To carry out their legal obligations to you for health and safety reasons

*You must know that you cant take paid time off for antenatal appointments until you have told your employer you are pregnant. 

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If, like me, you work in a physical environment, the earlier you tell your boss, the better. I work part time in a pub, a pub that in the summer months and at weekends can get extremely busy, which means a lot of running up and down in the cellar retrieving extra stock, refilling the ice buckets, emptying and reloading the glass tray, amongst other heavy lifting duties. In this instance, due to the stage I am within my pregnancy (I’m 27 weeks + 3 days), I can’t physically pick up heavy items, as per my risk assessment.

In line with most jobs, whether physical or not, the employer needs to assess the risks of work to the woman and her baby. Risks can be caused by:

  • Heavy lifting or carrying
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time without adequate breaks
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Long working hours

Where there are risks, the employer should take reasonable steps to remove them, eg by offering the employee different work or changing their hours.The employer should suspend the employee on full pay if they can’t remove any risks, eg by offering suitable alternative work.

Pregnant employees who think they’re at risk but their employer disagrees should talk to their health and safety or trade union representative. If your employer still refuses to do anything, talk to your doctor or contact the Health and Safety Executive.

 

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