Your partner knows,your family know and so do all your friends, but now you are building up the courage to tell your boss that you will be needing maternity leave sometime soon. It can be pretty nerve-wracking breaking the news to your employer, so here are few tips to make sure that sharing the news is easy.
Do your research before you let slip to your boss that you are pregnant. Re-read your contract, or speak to your HR department, to see what maternity leave or parental policies you are eligible for. South African labour law states that every pregnant woman is entitled to four months unpaid maternity leave – however many companies have additional clauses in place which you need to understand.
Some, for example will give you paid maternity leave or a percentage of your salary if you agree to return to your company for a set period once your maternity leave is complete.
How to: Maximise your maternity leave
It's all about timing
Most people plan to tell their employers about their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester, but this depends on your job. If your job could in any way affect your pregnancy, for example you work with dangerous chemicals, then you need to tell your boss as soon as possible.
Chat to your doctor about it too. You also need to tell your boss before he or she guesses – the key is to be as open and honest as you can. If you are disappearing off to the loo with morning sickness every ten minutes – this is a sure giveaway,especially if it is affecting your work performance in any way.
As exciting as your pregnancy is for you, remember that your boss will be most concerned with how it will affect business. Go in with a plan so that you can assure your boss that, apart from a few minor exceptions, you will handle your job in the same way that you did before. Think about how your maternity leave will affect your job – will your due date be near a big deadline? Will you need to alter your travel plans because of your pregnancy? Try to think of some ideas and solutions on how to deal with any changes before you tell your boss.
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Where and when?
Think about where and when to tell your boss – at the Christmas lunch with all the other staff around is a really bad idea. Make an appointment to talk to your boss when things in the office are calm –no looming deadlines or client meetings. Depending on your relationship with your boss and your company’s policy, you many need to write a letter rather than a face-to-face meeting.
However, in general, it is always best to break this kind of news to your boss personally. Many women are frightened about telling the boss because they fear losing their jobs. Losing your job because of pregnancy is considered discrimination and you are protected from this by law –you can’t be red for being pregnant. But when you tell your boss, reassure them that you are committed to your job and the company.
In the end, this is happy news for you and if you can show your boss that you will remain professional and that your job will get done – then it will be happy news for your boss too.