When Should I Tell My Boss I’m Pregnant?
I have a short question for you that I’m hoping you can answer as soon as possible! I am 14 weeks pregnant and trying to decide whether I tell my boss a) before my annual performance review (which usually contains a spectacular raise) on June 23 and hope that they still give me the raise, or play it like a man and b) tell them afterward, after I’ve sucked their money by pretending that I’m going to work there for another year.
First things first, our business is doing really well even in this depressed economy so I expect that I would be getting a raise. Also, I live in Canada where we get 55% of our salary paid for a year of maternity leave. That is paid by the government, not by my employer, so it isn’t like I’m screwing over my employer — they won’t be paying me after the baby comes in November. I won’t be returning to work, I’ll be starting my master’s after my year of paid parental leave is up. Should I play it cool or tell them now? I just have a tiny tummy so I think I could hide it from them for another month.
Oh, tell them afterward. I know this topic is a touchy one and can really rankle some people who view newly non-showing pregnant women as sneaky, calculating, flight-risky lying liars for daring to accept a new job or raise before disclosing a pregnancy, but…I just not cannot get on that bandwagon. It’s WORK. It’s a JOB. Separation of personal and professional life, whenever possible.
I have seen the most caring, wonderful family-friendly companies lay off loyal employees without prejudice or severance when it’s in their best financial interest. They might feel badly about it, but…sorry, here’s a box for your stuff, and Carl the security guy to walk you out.
If you honestly think there’s a chance your boss would PUNISH YOU for taking the maternity leave to which you are LEGALLY ENTITLED, then it’s in your best financial interest to keep your news to yourself. Big ol’ flipping thumb-and-index-finger W formation from me. Perhaps your boss WOULD do the right thing and give you the raise (that you’ve already EARNED, may I point out, over the last year, hence the words “performance review“) even if he/she knows about the pregnancy. But I would not give them the chance to do the wrong thing. Put yourself first. Get a really glowing and unbiased performance review in your file as insurance against any weirdness that could crop up when you do tell them about the pregnancy. (If you think pending maternity leave will make things awkward, just imagine what a discrimination suit would do!)
I’m perhaps even more dogmatic about this in your case than something similar here in the States, where you really WOULD be leaving your employer with the bill for your leave (in a sense, via short-term disability insurance premiums, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have any paid leave benefits at ALL, gaaaaaaahhh). The government will pay your upwardly-revised salary. You will (I presume) continue to work just as hard and be just as good at your job in the next five months or so as you have in the past 12 months.
As for any “I’m not going back to work after my leave” guilt you may be feeling: Don’t. That’s the beauty of being an at-will employee. People quit jobs ALL THE TIME. They go back for their Master’s too. They change careers, cities, commutes. Remove the pregnancy from your situation: would you turn down a raise just because you were thinking about applying to grad school the next semester? Currently awaiting news on a small business loan to finally get your dream of running a dog-walking service up and running? Would you disclose that you were applying for jobs at other companies for whatever reason in the world? Probably not. (Or at least…I wouldn’t. Or didn’t. Perhaps that makes me a jerk, but I’m a jerk with EXCELLENT references.)
Pregnancy is a more emotionally-charged issue for whatever reason, but essentially it’s just another path in life that may or may not cause an employee to reassess her situation and make changes as necessary. You aren’t bilking your great-grandma out of her retirement fund here, you’re protecting yourself and your family. No guilt.
Published June 19, 2009. Last updated March 27, 2018.