Women Fear Sharing Pregnancy With Employers: Do You Know Your Family and Medical Leave Act Rights?

Women Fear Sharing Pregnancy With Employers: Do You Know Your Family and Medical Leave Act Rights?

Parenting Without A Parachute is pleased to introduce Shari, our new contributing columnist! Shari is a thirty-something new mom, enjoying the challenges of raising a preemie baby. As graphic designer for a luxury travel company, she is lucky to work from home. She proudly wears the badge of a hockey wife and one day will be a hockey mom. She enjoys all things domestic and will challenge anyone to a game of Euchre. You can catch her quoting Sex and the City and Friends on a regular basis. Swimming and gardening are her favorite hobbies during the warm months in Chicago.

We anticipate her unique perspective and know you will easily connect with her journey through parenthood!

Hey boss, I’m pregnant and need 3 months off… Easy, right??

Recently, I spent a lovely evening with two of my girlfriends at a local Mexican restaurant. One friend is a new mom like me and the other will become a mom this summer. We were chatting and sharing mom stories. We got on the subject of the chore of telling our employers that we were pregnant. We shared our stories and I realized we all had one thing in common: we were scared to tell our bosses that we were pregnant.

This is not the first time that I have heard about this fear. It seems to be a very common concern. I was petrified to tell my boss since I was a brand new employee of only three months. My mom-to-be girlfriend was also scared but is a loyal employee of 10 years at her company.

What’s up with this fear? Hasn’t society burned it into our brains that we need to pair off and multiply? So, it shouldn’t be shocking to our bosses when we get pregnant. Or are we scared that we look weak? Or are we worried of what our co-workers will think of us? Or are we scared that we lose our place in line for the next promotion while we are off eating bonbons and changing diapers? Or is it the fact that people don’t talk openly about maternity leave like it’s taboo? I don’t know. All I do know is that I was scared of what my boss’s reaction was going to be.

Now on top of this fear, we have the grey areas of maternity leave. This mom-to-be has had multiple meetings with management and HR and still doesn’t have a clear understanding of what she can get for her leave. Another friend of mine had to write a proposal to fight for what she expected of her maternity leave. At this day and age it is ridiculous that we have to jump through so many hoops to have time off to heal and bond with our children (or eat bonbons). We are very lucky to have FMLA (which a past manager of mind never heard of). As being an employee of only 3 months, I did not qualify for FMLA. I was lucky that my company has a quality HR department with a clear policy for medical leave (unpaid). But what do you do if your company doesn’t have a clear medical leave policy or you don’t qualify for FMLA? Do we have to arm wrestle for time off? Or are we just screwed? Now, I’m starting to understand the fear…

Were you scared to tell your boss you were pregos? Was your leave clear or did you have to fight for it?

Know your rights!

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  • I believe in the U.S. we get the least amount of maternity leave in the world. Sweden gives 16 months off paid! And it's definitely a situation that can be stressful for some. I waited until I was 5 months along before telling my bosses. I had the fears you mentioned--becoming obsolete, or being passed over. My bosses (men) were very happy for me and excited, thankfully!

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