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When Should I Tell My Boss I’m Pregnant?

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

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.

Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s weekly Pregnancy Calendar. You won’t regret it.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Opal

    June 19, 2009 at 10:02 am

    In Canada, you need to give your employer one month’s notice of your leave.
    Thus, you are not obligated in ANY WAY to disclose your pregnancy (congratulations, btw! 🙂 to your employer right now.
    What your intentions are in regards to returning after you leave, the duration of your leave from that Provincial minimum to the full year, and so on? No one’s business but yours until it’s time to announce it!

  • Alison

    June 19, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Of course, the other side of this is that in some situations it can be really crappy to take paid maternity leave without telling the company you don’t plan to come back. If you work at a big company, it may not matter. If you work at a small company, it can have a major impact on the workload of the remaining coworkers (who have to pick up the slack of your vacant position because the company is too small to hire someone to cover from you, if they think you’re coming back in a few months). Or if you work at a nonprofit, you’re taking money directly from their work, sent in by donors who want to support the nonprofit, not fund your time off. And it can be bad for other women too, since we face employers who look at us with skepticism because we might do what you did.
    Yeah, you’re legally entitled. It still doesn’t make it right in all situations.

  • Alison Green

    June 19, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I should add — I agree that you should wait for your review and raise before you tell them. My comments are solely in regard to taking leave without mentioning you don’t plan on returning.

  • Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom

    Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom

    June 19, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I think you should not tell until AFTER the performance review.
    On this one, I’m with Alison Green. Since you’re in Canada, you are not (directly) financially draining your employer, but there are other factors as she mentioned to consider. But only tell them you’re leaving when you are sure you are.

  • camille

    June 19, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I disagree with Alison about disclosing your plans to return to work. You PLAN on going to grad school after your leave, but those plans may change if your life circumstances do. For instance, your husband may lose his job and you may need to put your Masters degree on hold. If you disclose that you don’t plan on returning in advance and end up revising those plans, you will no longer have your great job. Having a baby changes everything, and a year is a long time. You should wait until the end of your leave to announce that you’re not going to be returning. Amy is right…you’re protecting yourself and your growing family so NO GUILT.
    Also, you most certainly shouldn’t worry about what your boss might or might not feel about other women down the line….you can’t control what your boss thinks any way, and the population of child-bearing women who may or may not face skepticism from an employer aren’t paying your mortgage.
    I should add that I’m Canadian but have been living in the US for 11 years (and CURSING the fact that we’re not in Canada because I had a baby 3 months ago and had to go back to work after 8 weeks….waaah!). I feel this way regardless of the side of the border you live on.

  • Bitts

    June 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    ITA with Amy. Don’t tell. A LOT CAN CHANGE in the next year+. Who knows what the situation might be once your leave is up and you may or may not decide to come back?!? Why shoot yourself in the foot by saying you’re not coming back now? Burn that bridge and your employer will be IN NO WAY obligated to rehire you if you need to go back to work. By the time your leave is over and it’s time to really make the decision, things may be VERY DIFFERENT. Protect yourself, your income and your options. Don’t tell. You don’t owe them a thing. Business is business.
    Also, look at it in terms of what Amy said: if you were a MAN and thinking of leaving in the next year and a half for reasons NOT related to pregnancy (obv.), would you feel guilty? No? This is no different.

  • Miss Anna

    June 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    First off, congrats! And secondly, I agree with Amy in terms of the performance review–your raise is based on your prior year’s work. You’ve been there, worked hard, etc and have earned that bonus. You being pregnant has nothing to do with that.
    As for the maternity leave/not planning on coming back, what are the possible consequences if you tell them you won’t be returning? Since the gov. pays your salary would they actually fire you? And if they did, wouldn’t you be eligible for unemployment (at a similar percentage)? (Not sure how it works in Canada)
    Best wishes for the raise AND the pregnancy!

  • Tracy

    June 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    M’s situation is different because it is in Canada. Regarding Alison’s comment, the company can hire a replacement as a) they don’t have to pay M, the government does, so they have saved all the money from M’s salary to give to another, and b)it’s for a year, not a few months, so it would be hard to get by without a replacement, even at a small company.
    M, you should also take into consideration how much you make. The Canadian government will pay 55% of your salary, but there’s a cap. I can’t recall the amount, but I got nowhere near 55% of my salary when I went on mat leave. Therefore, get your raise and get as much money as you can now! Also, some companies in Canada will provide a mat leave top-up beyond the government’s money. This is not a requirement, just a perk, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I got a sliding scale top-up for the first 15 weeks of my mat leave. And many companies will use the benefits plan to pay six weeks disability after the birth. There are a lot of options to look into. We are definitely lucky to live in Canada.

  • Marnie

    June 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I absolutely agree with Amy on waiting until after the performance review. There are too many variables in the process. Some companies have limits on department raises or ratings, and so, while your boss may be the nicest person, s/he could decide to reduce your raise in favor or increasing someone else’s who isn’t planning on going anywhere.
    As for when to tell you’re not coming back, I disagree a little bit with Alison and Isabel. While I think it’s important to discuss plans with your boss, you need to leave yourself some options. Things change, including your own mind and your financial siuation. I know women who were absolutely sure they were going back to work, but after a few months on leave changed their minds. I also know a woman who told her boss she wasn’t planning to come back to work, but while she was still on the medical leave after birth, her husband lost his job, and she had no choice but to ask her boss if she could still come back to work.
    Discuss your thoughts with your boss, and find out when s/he truly needs to know whether you’re coming back to understand when you absolutely have to give your final decision. You may have more time than you think.

  • Kate

    June 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I was in this situation 5 1/2 years ago. But because I had experienced infertility, I did not want to tell anyone (outside of my parents/ILs) until I had to (about 16 weeks or so it started getting obvious–winter clothes helped the situation). I had my annual review in December and went public in January.
    Although I was 90% sure I was not going to go back after my (tiny) maternity leave, I did not tell my company until four weeks before I was due to go back–I had floated a proposal to go freelance/WAH for them and waited for the final nail in the coffin to arrive before I told them of my plans.

  • Ashley

    June 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I did tell my boss I was pregnant before my review (it was becoming obvious), and got a very low raise that year. After confronting my boss about the situation, he lied and said it was the going rate for my position…too bad my co-workers in the same position informed me of their raises which were all high. I would NOT tell until after the review, no matter how nice you think your boss is, you just never know!

  • Sid

    June 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m totally with Amalah on this. If it makes you feel a bit better, I work for the federal government and I purposely competed for a higher-paying job last year because I wanted to get my salary up before going on mat leave. I felt very little guilt about leaving my last job when I got the higher-paying one and I feel very little guilt about leaving this job after only a few months. I know we‚Äôre lucky to be in Canada but money is still important and if you can make more while on leave then take that opportunity.

  • Tiffany

    June 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I wouldn’t tell before my review. It’s not their business, and I think the example from a man’s position is a good one.
    And I wouldn’t mention not coming back either, until it’s absolutely necessary. I waivered on my decision while pregnant on whether or not I wanted to stay home with the kiddo… my husband’s job made that decision for us when they fired him three days before my induction. Here we are 8-1/2 months later, and he doesn’t have a job. He decided to go back to school. If I had made that decision before I went on leave, I would have been screwed. I’m glad I kept my mouth shut.

  • Kate

    June 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    As a supervisor, I’d like to know sooner than a month before someone is due to come back from maternity leave that they decided not to return.
    Searching for a replacement, after struggling to make do with one less employee for months, is not an easy something to deal with.

  • charlotte

    June 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Don’t tell. Seriously. DON’T.
    I didn’t even tell them when I started showing–I mean, my bump was obvious to anyone with eyes (so was my aversion to the Chinese food from the cafeteria, ugh!).
    When I was at 32 weeks, I brought my boss a doctor’s note saying that I wasn’t supposed to travel more than 50 miles from the hospital in which I was registered to give birth and asked to transfer to an office only 20 miles from my home as a reasonable accomodation. I also had put my maternity leave plans on a PowerPoint slide, with milestones and durations, etc., so that they knew my plans.
    Of course, before that conversation, I had made myself thoroughly knowledgeable about my company’s and the State’s maternity benefits. The HR agent I spoke to is required to keep these things confidential, so I could be assured there was no leak until I decided to share the information.

  • cagey

    June 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I would have said “don’t tell” either if she had planned on going back after her maternity leave. But. She isn’t planning on going back.
    I had a co-worker do the whole “taking the maternity leave, then taking OFF” thing. And guess who it really screwed? US. While she was on maternity leave, her job had to be held open, right? Guess who did her work? US.
    Now, I am not saying that the reader should tell her boss right now, but I do think the responsible thing is to give a reasonable notice before she leaves for good.
    I did leave my last job while pregnant. While I did not take a maternity leave, obviously, I did give the normal 2 week notice to wrap everything up. I knew that it would take some time to fill my position and wanted to give my group a heads up.

  • Liss

    June 19, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Don’t tell. Seriously, don’t. When I had my second, I had absolutely no intention of returning to work when my maternity leave ended.
    And then my husband got laid off three weeks after the baby was born, so I didn’t have a choice. Back to work I went, and HOLY WOW was I glad I hadn’t made it clear that I didn’t intend to return.
    The company will almost certainly be filling your position while you’re on leave anyway (because if they could just do without you for a year, why do they have you there anyway?) – you’re not going to be putting your coworkers out the way you would be in the US. Chances are good that if everything goes the way you hope, your temporary replacement will be offered the chance to go permanent when you notify them that you don’t plan to return from leave.
    Reap the rewards for what you’ve earned over the past year, then let them know your happy news, then go enjoy your baby before you decide for sure what to do next.

  • cagey

    June 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I do want to chime in and say that I don’t think the reader should tell before the review. No way!
    My main point is that I think it is unethical to take a maternity leave when one knows she is not returning after it. While in Canada, with it being a year, there is an option to hire a replacement, in the US it is a very different story. Three months is simply not long enough to get a replacement and train them. Furthermore, I am a CPA, you don’t just hire a temp to help out with data security auditing and systems reviews. We always ended up on the short end of the stick during maternity leaves.

  • natalie

    June 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    To the OP:
    Before you make a decision, look at your terms and conditions of employment. You might be required by contract to disclose a pregnancy by a certain point – e.g. by 16 weeks. Usually this is only in jobs where there might be an occupational risk to the woman or fetus (e.g. policing, manufacturing), but it can be in any job. If you don’t you could be in breach of your employment contract. So you’ll want to check that.
    But on the substantive point, I would not tell either. Since you’re not having your EI topped up by your employer, they are not losing out financially. This also means you will not have to pay back maternity benefits when you don’t return to work after leave (except you might have to pay back any health benefits that they’ve paid for you while you’re on leave – look into that).
    The performance review and bonus are based on your past performance, which is not affected by the fact you’re now pregnant.
    Congratulations and good luck!

  • Kim

    June 22, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I generally like my employers, but I know that every penny they don’t give me, they keep for themselves. With that thought in mind, I kept my mouth shut until I got my raise Friday before last. While I wasn’t excited about it, at least I’m confident that it was as much as they were ever going to give me.
    This past Friday, I hit my 2nd semester mark, so I spilled the beans and started maternity leave negotiation. Fun times all around.

  • Karen

    June 22, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I haven’t read all the comments so I’m sorry if I’m repeating anything…
    Tell them after! You still have 8-9 months of working there, so you deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Also (and I don’t want to be all Debbie Downer) you should know that although EI does pay 55% of your salary, there is a maximum of just over $42k – so the most you’ll receive is about $450 a week and they will deduct federal and provincial taxes. It’s still great to have some money coming in, but it’s not exactly a windfall. You and your spouse will still be taking a hit on income – I say get your $$ while you can 🙂 (Oh and one other bit of ass-vice, SAVE the amount of your raise every week and keep it aside for when the baby comes 🙂

    • Ender

      June 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      OMG Karen!! I’m so glad I read this. SAVE THE AMOUNT OF YOUR RAISE FOR BABY!

      I am in the same predicatment (from Canada). I, on the other hand had my preformance review last week (I got OUTSTANDING accross the board) , which was EXACTLY 1 day before the official three month mark and so, as per my doctor, I couldn’t tell before then nayways. However, because our salary recommendations are submitted to the Boss by my supervisor AFTER the performance review I wouldn’t know what my raise is for possibly another 3 weeks to take effect July 31. My supervisor alluded to the fact that my raise should be between the 4k – 7k mark but that is not a certaintly. I am visibly putting on a bit of weight and may need maternity clothes within the next 2 weeks. It will kill me if I disclose now and end up with less than that 4k I was expecting but think it would be rude to start wearing mat. clothes without telling my Supervisor I was expecting. HELP!!

  • Della

    June 22, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    In general, I would advise holding off on disclosing information about EITHER your future plans until they’re set in stone. Or at least set in drying cement.
    The fact that you’re asking this question at all indicates to me that you and I are in the same moral camp. I’m not a “stick it to the man” kind of person. Like many of the others here, I think it would be wise to let them make any raise decisions in a completely unbiased manner.
    Look at it from the opposite perspective. Would it be fair for them to say you’ve earned a raise but they’re not going to give it to you because of your life situation? What if they made the choice not to give you the raise, based on your disclosure, but then you don’t end up leaving the company?
    For instance, God forbid that this happen, but hypothetically imagine if the pregnancy did not make it to term, and you decided to stay at your current job after all. You wouldn’t be able to go back and say “hey um, about that raise you didn’t want to give me when I was leaving. now that I’m staying, can I have it after all?”
    Like many of the others above, I feel that it’s perfectly reasonable – and moral – to remove any temptation for them to act with bias by not telling them what might bias them.
    And… congrats!

  • Stephanie Elizabeth

    June 23, 2009 at 7:51 am

    That was an excellent post with some great information. We published some information on this topic too.

  • danica

    June 25, 2009 at 10:49 am

    You should tell them after but if you are already 14 weeks they may have an inkling before then anyway.
    As well you will get 55% up to a maximum of $780 every two weeks so if your take-home pay is higher then that it won’t matter what your raise would be.