Research Your Rights as a Pregnant Worker
After you have told your boss that you are pregnant, there will probably be plenty of questions regarding maternity leave. Thoroughly research your options before committing to a specific time frame for your maternity leave. The task of talking to your boss about your time away from the office will go smoother if you are prepared.
Time It Right
Unexpected situations may arise during your pregnancy, such as preterm labor or bed rest, which may lead to you needing to leave work sooner than you planned. If your baby requires medical care after the birth or you have a Cesarean section, you may need more time off than originally planned. If management wants to know what your plans are as soon as you announce the pregnancy, let them know you need time to do research and would like to discuss maternity leave later in your pregnancy.
Don’t wait until your ninth month to let your boss know what your plans are. Try to schedule the talk sometime at the end of your second trimester or beginning of the third. If you let your boss know your plans in advance, he or she may be more accommodating to your requests.
Know the Laws
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees all pregnant women 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, during and after a pregnancy. To be eligible, you must have worked for at least one year and at least 1,250 hours during one year’s time at your current place of employment. Your employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, as well. This law states that the employer must also maintain your health benefits during the time you are on maternity leave.
Contact the human resources manager at your place of employment to discuss the options your company offers. Read through your copy of the company’s handbook to see what type of maternity leave they offer. Make sure to ask your boss if you can use your vacation and sick time during your maternity leave.
Talk to Your Coworkers
If you know of any other women who have recently gone on maternity leave at your company, ask them how much time they were offered. While some women may not wish to discuss all the details, consider asking around to find out what other women were able to negotiate.