How Can I Best Deal With Working Around a Pregnancy?
January 4, 2008 1:32 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to deal with informing my employer of my pregnancy? The benefits situation is questionable at this point. Details below.

I'm just past 13 weeks. My due date is July 7. I work for a large company where almost all of the employees in my group are contract employees. As a contract employee I get benefits, 401K--everything a "regular" employee would get--except that I have an end date for my work (and benefits). This date, for me, happens to be July 15.

The project I am currently working on has been delayed, and probably won't finish until the fall. After that, there's another big project coming up that I'm well suited for. If I weren't pregnant, I wouldn't be worried about having my contract extended.

However, given that I am pregnant, if the company didn't extend my contract, they would get out of paying me the company's generous maternity package (3 mo off paid + an additional 3 mo paid while working reduced hours).

Any advice? I actually asked HR about this, and they said that they've never had to deal with this issue before, so they would deal with it "if and when it arose." Gulp.

I think legally they could just cut me off, after all the contract says that I only get benefits for the length of the contract.

Thanks in advance for any advice. Any information on rights is appreciated, too--although the idea of suing my company (which, in general, I really like) is not exactly appealing.
posted by tk to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How do you have grounds to sue them if you are a contract employee? It is you who might not be able to fulfill the terms of the contract given your due date and the contract end date. I think you should be upfront with them. It isn't uncommon for people to want to clear the 3rd month before making the big preggers announcement, but you are already at that point so if you hide it much longer they might feel like you weren't upfront with them and feel less inclined to keep you. I think they'd be more open to a flexible solution if you give them more time. Of course, they might be doing contracts to save money so they may feel no obligation to you. Good luck with it, happy baby!
posted by 45moore45 at 3:01 PM on January 4, 2008

Yes, congratulations!

But beware of the possible repercussions of hiding the pregnancy while negotiating for the contract extension. One could argue that you were negotiating in bad faith.

IANAL, and I agree with sondrialiac that you should chat with one very soon.
posted by flexiblefine at 3:03 PM on January 4, 2008

You might be interested in what the federal law says. A possibly useful quote: "Employees with pregnancy related disabilities must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases and temporary disability benefits."

Would a man who has shoulder surgery scheduled for mid-July tell his employer now? It seems very early to me.
posted by PatoPata at 4:59 PM on January 4, 2008

Hmm, are you in California? (I believe the only state where the state will pay disability at 55% of your previous salary iirc.)

I can't help legally (and I'm hoping more HR people drop into this thread). Jus politically, I'm wondering if you could spin the project delay to your advantage, presuming that they need you to be the one who finishes it: "As you know, we delayed the project, and it won't be finished until the fall. However, before it was delayed, I had planned on (ahem) something else, and in fact, I'll be giving birth in mid-July! But I want to reassure you I won't be leaving you in the lurch -- I fully intend to keep working afterwards and finish the project, so you won't have to train someone else and pay them while they're getting up to speed. I'm wondering, though, if we could we revise the project schedule again so that I can take some family time off. We could? Great! Can it be that same three months of paid time off everyone else gets?"
posted by salvia at 5:42 PM on January 4, 2008

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