When do I have to tell my boss I’m pregnant?

Florist working mum

You’re probably desperate to tell anyone who’ll listen that you’re having a baby, but how do you feel about letting your boss know?

No doubt there are a few questions floating around your head about pregnancy at work, like when do you actually have to tell your employer that you’re having a baby, and what information do you have to provide?

When do I have to tell my boss I’m expecting?

In Australia, there isn’t any law that says you have to tell your boss you’re pregnant by a certain point in your pregnancy. But it’s a good idea to check your employment contract, just in case it contains something specific about disclosing pregnancy.

If you are planning on taking unpaid parental leave, your employer will need to know (in writing) at least 10 weeks before, including the start and finish date. They may also request evidence that you are pregnant. Yup, technically that big baby bump you’re hauling around might not count!

If your employer provides paid maternity leave (lucky you!), take peek at your individual employment contract because it may have its own set of processes to follow.

What am I entitled to?

According to Fair Work Australia, your parental leave entitlements include:

  • maternity leave
  • paternity and partner leave
  • adoption leave
  • special maternity leave
  • a safe job and no safe job leave
  • a right to return to old job

In Australia, if you’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months before your expected due date you’re entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave, and you can ask for an extra 12 months of leave.

If you’re employed as a casual you’re eligible for unpaid parental leave if you’ve been working for your employer on a ‘regular’ basis for at least 12 months, and there was an expectation this work would continue if you weren’t having a baby.

When do I have to start maternity leave?

While it’s generally accepted that women begin maternity leave six weeks before their due date. You are still able to work during this time, however, you may need to supply a doctor’s certificate confirming you’re fit to continue in your role.

We asked the Mum’s Grapevine community at what stage they stopped work and this is what they had to say …

“I finished at 36 weeks. I slowed down from 8.5 hrs to 6.5 hours a day at 33 weeks due to high blood pressure and on my feet all day, causing swelling. You finish when you feel you need to.” – Zara 

“I’m a teacher in Adelaide and had planned to work until 37 weeks with our first baby – he surprised us and came at 29 weeks so this time round I am starting my leave in two weeks time – I’ll be almost 30 weeks. Do whatever is best for you.” – Bec 

“I’m a nurse in high care and dementia. My first was born in July I finished one week before due. My second was due November I was really sick and hot, felt horrible, finished at 32 weeks. But overall you need to listen to your body and if you need to finish at 28-34 weeks you will know and you do what is best for you and bub.” – Simone 

“I’m a teacher. I worked for 37 weeks with number one and number three, and to 35 weeks with number two. I’m about to go on leave with number four at the end of this term, and just because of when the terms are it will be the earliest ever – 31 and a half weeks. Part of me feels that it’s too early, but I’m having a lot of trouble with my hips this time so it’s probably the right call. You do what feels right for you.” – Amy 

“You know yourself and your conditions, so if you think you will be ok financially and better off for your body, enjoy the extra rest finishing up early! I finished around 33/34 weeks. My iron got really low after that and I started a supplement, but in general, there was no way I could continue my full-time job as a property manager. I loved the rest and opportunity to finish off some things at home. Never know if they will make an early arrival too.” – Kirsty

Head over to Fair Work Australia for more information about pregnancy rights at work.