Win a Winner!
Writers & Photographers
Berlitz Summer Camp
by Regina Leeds
Editor’s Note: One Year to an Organized Life with Baby, by Regina Leeds (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2011), is a different kind of week-by-week pregnancy guide. Each week presents tips to help the pregnant mother get ready for baby and keep her family organized. This excerpt comes from “13 Weeks Pregnant.”
My client Sandy is a people person. Turn her loose in a store and within minutes she’ll know all the sales staff and most of the other customers. When Sandy found out she was pregnant, she couldn’t share the news fast enough. And because she is gregarious and open by nature, she never looked back or regretted one shared moment. At the opposite end of the spectrum is my client Dale. She’s a career corporate attorney determined to make partner before she turns 40. When she found out she was pregnant, she carefully planned when and how the people in her life, from her parents and family members to her colleagues at work and her postman, would find out.
Do you hold things close to the vest? Or do you follow the old saying, “If it’s on her lung, it’s on her tongue!” Wherever you fall in the personality spectrum, there is no right or wrong.
Just as people are different, so are corporate cultures. The bottom line is twofold: You want to follow company-mandated protocol to telegraph to your superiors that you are a team player. You also want to control the news so that you are always in charge of who knows what and when. Tailor a program that’s just right for you. That’s the goal.
Unless your boss is the character on whom Michael in the TV show The Office was patterned, you should have no problem letting him or her know that you are having a baby. As happy as your boss may be for you, the reality of your position being vacated for any period of time is likely to cause some concern. Before you go in to share the good news, take some time to outline a plan. For example, your boss will want to know:
• Who will cover for you during your leave? Does that person need training or do they now work so closely with you that you are already an effective team?
• Is there someone you’d like to nominate to cover for you? What makes this person qualified? When and how will you train her?
• What are your projects listed from highest priority to low? Let your boss know how each will be handled in your absence.
• What are your thoughts on informing clients, vendors and colleagues about this blip on their business radar?
I am not suggesting that you have a detailed plan worked out at this moment in time. I am suggesting you let your boss know that you are on top of the transition and will cover all the bases in a timely fashion. Change, whether positive or negative, makes most people a little nervous. Even if you don’t intend to return to this job after the birth, it would behoove you to take the same precautions for a smooth transition. You never know when a few good words from this boss about your performance will be important in the future. As you take your leave, tell him your next step is to visit HR (the human resources department). Be sure he knows that you would like to be the one to share the news with your coworkers.
One of your big tasks is to speak to HR. Something as important as a pregnancy needs to be discussed in person, not via phone or impersonal communication forms like e-mail or voice mail. Your leave has ramifications for the company, whether it’s the local fast food joint or a big corporation. There is a lot to be discussed.
Investigate your maternity benefits. Chances are when you were hired at your company, you received a packet full of information delineating your medical and other benefits. Don’t panic if you tossed them. Your HR rep will most likely hand you an updated maternity packet that outlines current company protocol and benefits policies, including your eligibility for maternity leave and, if you are entitled to maternity leave, whether all or a portion of your leave will be paid. Be sure you understand exactly what your benefit package and applicable law guarantee for your position. With the recent financial upheaval in the world, benefit packages are changing all the time. You don’t want to make assumptions based on old information.
Here are some items to check:
• Am I entitled to maternity leave? If so, how long is the period and will I receive my full or partial salary?
• If the company provides medical insurance, are maternity benefits covered? If so, are these for a certain number of checkups and the delivery?
• What about tests? And more to the point, what about tests recommended by your doctor that are outside the norm? Will there be full, partial, or no coverage?
• When will your leave begin?
• When will you be expected back?
• What if you intend to return to work but there is a medical complication with the birth or the baby that delays your return? What happens to your benefits?
• Your spouse should take a variation on these questions to his HR Department to see if there is any coverage available to supplement what you are to receive from your medical policy through your place of employment.
You need to decide exactly how you want to do this. If you have any close friends among your coworkers, you’ll want to tell them in person. After that, in today’s world, a clever e-mail announcement would be acceptable. However, before you hit Send, there is another group who should be notified at the same time: your vendors, your suppliers, and, most important of all, your clients. You don’t want anyone in this group to hear from another source that you are pregnant. If your contribution to a particular project is vital, for example, a client may panic if he finds out you are going to be gone for a few weeks or months. Share the good news and assure everyone that not only will your projects be up to speed when you leave but talented people in the office will be covering the projects in your absence.
– Reprinted with permission from One Year to an Organized Life with Baby, by Regina Leeds, Da Capo Lifelong Books.