How to Deal

After Childbirth, Return to Work?

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By Lily Garcia
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, September 13, 2007; 11:34 AM

I am 12 weeks pregnant and need to tell my boss. As of right now, I have no plans to return to my job. I'd like to, however, use all of my sick leave and annual leave when the baby is born.

I want to know what and when do I tell my boss?

Be careful about what you say to your employer. If you let them know about your plans to not return, you could lose your job and most of your leave along with it.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ordinarily protects your job if taking time off for the birth of a child. The FMLA regulations, however, also state that, "If an employee gives unequivocal notice of intent not to return to work, the employer's obligations . . . cease."

If you do express a desire to return to work, the FMLA protections will remain in effect even if you mention to your employer that there's a chance you may not be able to. You can either allow your employer to believe that you'll return or be up-front about your real plans.

Not being honest about your true intentions will allow you to take advantage of leave benefits. But you are likely, however, to lose face within the company once you finally inform your manager of your departure. This can have a negative impact later on, should you need your former employer as a reference.

In the end, you have to do what feels right to you given your relationship with the company and the needs of your family. I imagine that your organization allows departing employees to cash out on some amount of leave. And you, therefore, should have some sort of "cushion" for a period of time.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail lilymgarcia@gmail.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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