'I'm 5 weeks pregnant - when should I tell my employer?'

Ask Jo

I’m 5 weeks pregnant – when should I tell my employer? 

Lorraine, 32, business analyst

First of all, a big congratulations! This is an exciting time but I know it can also be incredibly nerve-racking. I hope everything has been going well and that it will be smooth sailing over the coming months. 

There are no strict rules about when to tell your employer you’re pregnant. The best time to tell them is when it feels right to you, but many women prefer to wait until the end of their first trimester. If you are having complications such as morning sickness or have a job that is either highly stressful or requires physical labour, then you might want to have a conversation with your employer sooner rather than later. Besides, if you’re anything like I was, your food cravings (icy poles at 8am, anyone?) might give you away! 

Start by reviewing your company’s maternity leave policies (available through human resources) and find out how much notice you need to give before going on leave. If you are feeling concerned about how your employer will react then I suggest erring on the side of caution. 

Make sure you arrange a time to meet with your manager, rather than talking to them on the run. You can let them know if you are uncertain of when you will be finishing – you might be feeling great and work up to the final week or you might need to finish work earlier than planned. If you do get asked your intentions regarding returning to work, it is OK to let them know you haven’t decided yet. Remember that you are entitled to 12 months of parental leave.

The last thing you want is for your employer to hear about your news through office gossip or even worse – on Facebook! It’s best to be open and honest. Even if you choose to wait until you are showing, it’s only fair to give your employer ample notice of when you are planning to go on maternity leave. 

It’s important for you to know that it is against the law to discriminate against employees because they are pregnant. A pregnant woman has the right to continue working unless there are occupational health and safety-related issues. I suggest that you read the information on the Fairwork Ombudsman website in relation to pregnancy and parental leave. If you feel that you are being unfairly treated as a result of being pregnant there are formal avenues to pursue (see below).

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s contact details are:
Complaint Info Line: 1300 656 419 (local call)
TTY: 1800 620 241 (toll free)
Fax: (02) 9284 9611
Email: complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au
Website: www.humanrights.gov.au

Jo Messer

Jo Messer is a Career Development Specialist who has many years of experience in supporting and guiding students and graduates of some of Australia’s most respected universities, as well as mature-aged clients, across all facets of their career. She is a Professional Member of CDAA and an active member of NAGCAS. Whether you have a specific question about how to achieve your career goal or something more general, Jo is available to provide you with up-to-date advice.

Email Jo your career questions

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