How to tell the boss you are pregnant

You're pregnant and can't wait to tell the news to family and friends.

But while you may be filled with excitement at the thought of spilling the beans to your nearest and dearest, when do you tell your boss you're expecting... and what's the best way to do it?

For many women the prospect of revealing an impending baby to their employer can be stressful.

Could you be passed over for promotion, chucked off that great new project or face a battle getting time off for your antenatal visits?

You could, of course, avoid the issue entirely by faking a mystery illness to mask the morning sickness. Or don a baggy blouse and double your workload to stave off guesses... for a while.

Alternatively, arm yourself with all the information you need to make that announcement safe in the knowledge of your rights. There is legislation that protects a pregnant woman from discrimination at work, from how much time you can have off to how much maternity pay you get.

According to UK law, you are not obliged to tell your employer you are pregnant until 15 weeks before the beginning of the week your baby is due.

Most women will wait until after the first trimester, and the greatest risk of miscarriage, has passed. But sometimes confiding in your boss a little earlier is wise.

[See also: Does your other half feel pregnant too?]

National charity Maternity Action points out: "Special health and safety rights during pregnancy and the right to paid time off for antenatal care apply when your employer knows you are pregnant."

If you have a very strenuous job, or one that exposes your unborn baby to a potentially harmful environment, you may wish to inform your supervisor as soon as you know you are expecting.

As the DirectGov website notes, risks to your pregnancy might include "lifting or carrying heavy loads, standing or sitting for long periods, exposure to toxic substances or long working hours."

By law, your employer must do all that is reasonable to remove or reduce any risks to your health and that of your unborn child.

If necessary, he or she must alter your working hours or conditions, or offer you a suitable alternative job. If the risks are unavoidable, you have the right to be suspended on full pay for as long as is needed to protect your safety.

When you do formally tell your employer about your pregnancy, put together a letter stating your due date and when you would like your maternity leave and pay to start.

Try to make sure you are the first person to tell him or her the news which means keeping it zipped around your colleagues. It wouldn't appear too professional if your boss were to hear you are pregnant second-hand.

It is also worth talking to Human Resources to find out exactly what you are entitled to, because some companies offer enhanced parental leave or might be prepared to let you vary your hours to avoid the rush hour.

Whatever you decide, the most important thing to remember is that you cannot be legally fired, singled out for redundancy or given worse conditions simply because of your pregnancy.

For more information and advice call Maternity Action on 0845 600 8533 or see Citizens Advice Guide

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