When to Tell your Employer, “I’m Pregnant!”
The news of a pregnancy isn’t always welcomed with wide smiles and warms hugs. Especially in the context of your job and employer. For most women in the corporate world, pregnancy and subsequent childcare means a pause to their careers. It is a threat to their progression in the ladder. A reprioritize to their ambitions.
Sandra, 34, is in senior management in a local consultancy firm. She is expecting her second child now. Her company/employer has put in place structures and policy to support the woman’s and the new-moms agenda. Structures she appreciated, says Sandra. But there was a reality on the ground that the structures couldn’t capture. “Balancing career and motherhood isn’t easy. Especially for the first-time mom in a high-paced environment as ours. I couldn’t be posted to out-of-town or out-of-country assignment because of my breastfeeding baby. I obviously needed these assignments to be promoted. There were some important meetings I couldn’t attend because the hours were either too early or too late for me.”
Sandra was justifiably passed over for promotions. In some companies, there is blatant discrimination against the pregnant employees. Some are not confirmed on permanent terms because it means higher health insurance costs for the company. Others are not considered for particular positions or assignments.
While other pregnant employers are even fired. And because of this, some female employees chose not to tell their employers they are pregnant.
Getting pregnant is your employer’s concern because it means you will no longer be working in the duration prior and after childbirth. Your pregnancy is their business. (Literally). You need to alert them. Question is, when?
For mid-level employees, HR experts we consulted and the Law recommend that you officially alert your employer about your pregnancy two months before your expected date of delivery (EDD). Of course, it doesn’t hurt if she alerts them earlier. That depends on the nature of your work. Making this official alert means you are can now also apply for your three months of maternity leave.
For lower-level employees, especially those in the non-formal sector, it depends on the type of relationship you have with your employer. But two to four months before your EDD is as good a time as any to alert your employer of your pregnancy. This window gives her enough time to find and train your replacement.
For the upper level employees, depending on the nature of your work and your position, this duration is also recommended.
The window is wide enough for prior planning on yours and your employer’s end. Matters around hand-over and training your replacement need not be rushed. The smoother the hand-over, the less likely you are to be bothered during your maternity leave.
You are advised against making the announcement before you hit your 13-week mark. The risk of miscarriage in the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy is still very high. In response to the blatant discrimination in the work place, HR expert say, “Only the employer setting himself up for a lawsuit would discriminate against a pregnant employee in the workplace. He continues, “The new Constitution and the Employment Act 2007 consider this in detail. The laws are now tougher.
“The courts more unforgiving on employers who don’t support the labour laws. The constitution set up a new court called the Labour Court. It’s a branch of the High Court that handles only labour-related cases. Discrimination in the workplace, especially on matters touching pregnancy, bears a heavy cost.”
Employees need be aware of these laws and how to apply them to their favour.
You might also like: HR Regulations for Pregnant Employees