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maternity-rights

How to tell your employer you’re pregnant

How to do it, when to tell them and what rights you’re entitled to

Tips on telling your employer you're pregnant

What you need to know about informing your employer your pregnant

Pregnant woman at work

When you find out you’re pregnant, you may be thinking about when to break the happy news to friends and family, but you may not have yet considered how to go about telling your employer that you’re pregnant.

Depending on your work life, the thought of doing so may feel like a lot of pressure, but it shouldn’t be. You’re perfectly within your rights (and protected by them) to tell your employer when you’re pregnant and to take leave at the appropriate times throughout your pregnancy.

When should I tell my employer I’m pregnant?

Legally, you need to tell your employer that you’re pregnant at least 15 weeks before your due date; this is known as your ‘notification week’. However, it’s likely you’ll want to tell them before this, in part because it’s fantastic news, but also because you’ll want to take time off for antenatal appointments.

It’s quite common to tell your employer after the first trimester, and it can actually be quite beneficial for both parties to tell them earlier for a number of reasons

• Once you’ve let your employer know you’re pregnant, you’ll be protected against unfair treatment or discrimination that is pregnancy-related. Any days off you have through illness that are related to your pregnancy will be logged separately so as not to be used against you

• The sooner you tell your employer, the easier it’ll be for you to both put things in place in preparation for when you go onto maternity leave.

• Your employer will need to carry out a workplace risk assessment once they know you’re pregnant to ensure the workplace is safe for you to work. If it isn’t, responsibility falls upon them to make necessary improvements, or provide you with alternative work at the same rate of pay. 

• You will be given a reasonable amount of paid time off for antenatal appointments. After your first appointment your employer is allowed to ask for proof of these appointments, either as a note from your doctor or a stamped MATB1 certificate usually given 20 weeks before your due date. You’ll start to get a better idea of what maternity pay could receive and how to claim it. 

What does my employer need to know?

When you tell your employer you’re pregnant, you’ll need to give them a few details including:

• That you want to receive statutory maternity pay 

• The date you plan to go on maternity leave 

You’re entitled to take up to 52 weeks and you must tell your employer the date you want your maternity leave to start by no later than the 15th week before your baby is due. The earliest you can go on leave is 11 weeks before your due date. Your employer should then write to you within 28 days to confirm the start date and when your expected return date is. You’re allowed to ask for a different date to start maternity leave, but you need to give 28 days’ notice 

Do I have to tell my employer in writing or can I tell them in person?

You can arrange a meeting with your employer and tell them in person, but it’s best to get certain details in writing including when you’re set to start maternity leave and any return dates.

What rights do I have from my employer and what if they react badly?

You’ll get protection from unfair treatment related to your pregnancy, and you’ll be exempt from any kind of discrimination due to your pregnancy or work related absences as a result of it.

Depending on how long you’ve been with your current employer, you may also be entitled to statutory maternity pay. If you don’t qualify for maternity pay, you might still be able to claim maternity allowance.

Often mums-to-be are worried that their employer may react badly to the news of their pregnancy, but don’t let this be a worry or a reason not to tell them.

Legally speaking you have rights to protect you and it’s usually easier once you have told them so that you can start planning with them.

Should I also tell my colleagues?

Once you’ve told your employer, it’s usually then time to tell your colleagues. You don’t have to tell them straight away, but you may find it hard to keep the happy news to yourself.

How to tell your employer you’re pregnant