Dear Bossy

Dear Bossy #3: I'm pregnant, when should I tell my boss?

Dear Bossy,

I’m pregnant. it is kind of early in my first trimester. I haven’t told anyone at work (just our close family). I know that after the baby is born I don’t want to go back to work full time and I may not want to go back at all. When should I tell my boss I’m pregnant and when should we talk about my returning to work?

Thanks!
Baby Bump in Boston

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Dear Baby Bump in Boston,

Congratulations! So excited for you. Big life change coming at you. This is a great question and one I think most women who have children grapple with. Here are my thoughts for you.

I wouldn’t tell your boss about the baby until mid-2nd trimester. Lots can happen in your first trimester and you don’t need to share this news so early. Once you are solidly in your 2nd trimester you will definitely start to show and I would disclose to your boss about your baby and your due date. That said - if you are suffering from any first trimester health issues that require some workplace accommodations, then I would tell your boss sooner. But if you are managing just fine right now, then keep it your business for a bit longer.

I assume you are a woman of child bearing age, so your boss (male or female) has probably already made the assumption that you are going to get pregnant some day. So the news you are having a baby shouldn’t be a huge deal or a big shock. When you are ready to tell your boss, I’d focus on the due date, the maternity leave policy and making sure there is a plan in place to cover your workload while you are gone. More time for the team to plan is good, so don’t wait to start this conversation for too long.

However, I feel very strongly that you should not plan beyond the maternity leave with your boss right now. You don’t know what adding a baby to your life is going to be like and I wouldn’t make life plans that far in advance in collaboration with your boss. You should make all these decisions together with your family (partner, etc). My suggestion is to plan for a regular maternity leave, taking advantage of whatever policies your workplace has to give you. You do NOT need to start negotiating about part-time or not returning at all right now. Give yourself the full pregnancy and maternity leave to make these plans known to your boss.

Again, most bosses, make assumptions about women and babies. They assume some aren’t coming back or aren’t going to be as engaged when they do come back. So instead of tipping your hand about that - tell them you are planning on coming back on xy date and at full time.

Then once you’ve made up your mind about what you want for your family (once the little one has arrived), you can begin the negotiation process with your boss. If you are planning on not returning at all, you still want the maternity leave coverage and benefits through your labor/delivery and post delivery phase (this stuff costs a lot of money) and you may have a better sense of your availability and needs once you know about this kid and your needs.

If you decide you want to return to work in some part-time capacity, this is a different negotiation and depending on your workplace and flex time policies it may be hard or easy to have that conversation, but I’d wait until you know what you want.

I have one other piece of advice I give to ALL women who want to have families and have jobs and I stole it from Sheryl Sandberg - lean in to your work before they know you are pregnant and/or before your maternity leave. Get the raise, the promotion, the interesting project before you depart. If you do want to come back to work right away or later, you want something interesting to come back to. Don’t assume you will be less engaged or less productive and don’t let your boss assume that either. Get the raise and if you leave, you will have little more in your pocket for your time with your family and if you decide to go back to work you will have a higher salary expectation.

Good luck with the pregnancy. When you are on your maternity leave and decide what you want to do, write back and we can talk about the negotiation!

Best

-Bossy

Dear Bossy #2: I'm a teacher and want a new job

Dear Bossy

Quick note. I’m a teacher. have been for 20 years. I’m about to walk into a ed-tech career fair. Any advice??

Thanks for any advice

Teacher in NY

Dear Teacher

20 years as a teacher - you have experience. My advice

be upbeat - no one wants to hear how burnt out you are as a teacher or what little shits your kids are or how this new generation is lazy. Keep it upbeat and positive.

Remember your experience - you have 20 years of experience. Anyone building an EdTech solution would be lucky to have you. You know what actually works in the classroom and with learners. Lots of this will translate.

I truly believe that anyone who can get up in front of students and get their attention day in and day out can do anything. You got this!

- Bossy

Dear Bossy - my new advice column

I have been called bossy my whole life.

I take it as a compliment.

I’ve decided to share some of the advice I’ve given (and been given) over the years about being overworked, always on, dealing with co-workers, re-org’d (again), poor performance reviews, changing managers, downturns, promotions, crying at work… and share it in all in an advice column format.

Let’s learn from each other.

Please send me your letters at elizabeth@negotiatingatwork.com.