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  Pregnancy eMagazine

Telling your employer

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you'll find yourself wondering who to tell...and when? Some women are so excited they want to tell everyone their good news; others may be cautious at first, telling only the baby's father and close family members.

Eventually, you need to decide how and when to tell your employer you are pregnant.

Every situation is different, and you will have to consider the specifics of your own work environment. For example...

  • Will pregnancy affect your ability to do your current job?
  • Will you and your employer need to discuss changing your job responsibilities?
  • Are your job surroundings safe for you and your unborn baby (e.g., Do you work around chemicals or other irritants? Are you on your feet for long periods of time?)
  • Are you in a union? If so, what does the contract say?

What is the law?

Under Minnesota law, if your company has 21 or more employees, you are entitled to unpaid leave for birth or adoption of a baby.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), federal law allows 12 weeks for family/medical leave.

  • Medical leave refers to the period of time during which you are physically unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, recovery and related medical conditions.
  • Family leave is the time you take off not because you need to, physically, but because you want to be home with your new baby. In addition, Minnesota allows up to 16 hours per year for leave to participate in children's educational activities, such as field trips.

The law states you must give your employer 30 days notice before using family or medical leave. But may be a good idea to allow more time than that for negotiating if you think your job duties will need to change. This can cut down on any stress or tension between you and your employer. Let your company know that the leave is for birth (or adoption).

To play it safe, it doesn't hurt to mention that you are requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). That way everyone has the same understanding.

Your employer has the right to ask you to report periodically on your status and intent to return to work. However, your employer may not do this in a discriminatory way — for example, by requiring only women who are on leave following childbirth to check in.

Companies with fewer than 21 employees are free to determine their own policies for pregnancy leave. So find out in plenty of time about your options for maternity leave.


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Source: National Partnership For Women and Families (www.nationalpartnership.org)

First published: 09/05/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic