Part I: Hey boss, I’m pregnant!
Published: April 5, 2016

Diana Merian (pseudonym) has just finished her master’s degree in aquatic ecology when she found out after a few months that she was pregnant. On the one hand, she is happy that she will be a young mother, but at the same time, there is a fear that her impressive CV will become worthless. How can she increase her chances to stay in touch with the labour market during pregnancy?

She already has a job offer to continue her student job, but only verbally. She absolutely wants to keep the offer, but her boss doesn’t yet know that she is pregnant. Well prepared, she goes into the “Hello-boss,-I’m-pregnant”- conversation and tells us how it went.

“I wanted to wait until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy to tell my boss about my pregnancy. During my studies, I was employed on a mini-job basis. Shortly before I graduated, I was offered the opportunity to increase my contract to a part-time position. A few days later, I was holding the positive pregnancy test in my hands with trembling hands. It was a tremor of joy and fear at the same time. Although I had the verbal offer from my boss, I still had nothing in writing. German labour law contains protective provisions for me, so that I should sign and then deliver the news to my boss, I was advised. But I was uncomfortable with the idea. I didn’t want to disturb the good, familiar relationship by hiding the facts. Since there are often natural losses in the first three months (especially with first pregnancies), I made up my mind to wait until then to notify him.

I wanted to have thought through all the things that we can plan in advance and present them to my boss. [/ quote] I prepared myself well for the conversation and learned about the legal framework. How long does maternity leave apply? Who pays my salary during this time, the health insurance or the employer? What does the salary level depend on during maternity leave? I talked long and hard with my partner about what options there were so that we could both stay at work and be parents together. What types of parental leave are there? Can we both work part-time? How many blocks can we divide parental leave into? Of course, we cannot influence many other factors, first and foremost the child himself. But all the things that we can plan, I wanted to have thought through and presented to my boss.

My hands start to sweat, my heart is racing. What if he backs down and I don’t get the part-time job? [/ quote] The three months are over; I’ll write my boss a short email asking if we can meet. I have something important to discuss. Although I made up my mind to deliver my message at the very beginning, we only talk about everyday things. My hands are starting to sweat, my heart is racing. What if he backs down and I don’t get the part-time job? By the time I find another interesting job offer, I am sure that the pregnancy can already be seen. Will I still get a job by then? If not, I won’t be able to apply again until after giving birth, in about a year. What if a second child comes along? Then suddenly, five years are over and I missed starting my career. I notice that my mind is getting out of hand and that I no longer listen to my boss. I only get half of the last sentence, then he talks about the new contract. Now is the moment, then I burst out: “Yes, that’s why I wanted to talk to you. I’m pregnant.” My boss blushes, and at the same time, his hand flies across the table. “Congratulations!” Then I present my practiced plan: that I don’t need to take full advantage of maternity leave if I can work from home, that my partner supports me and we share parental leave, that there are two enthusiastic grandmas. My boss didn’t want to hear that much, he has two children himself and knows how easy it is to change your own plans. I have to be present during the main office hours, otherwise more home office would be possible, we can somehow manage that. In any case, the contract is running, maybe he could even set up a quiet corner in the office and I should now have a good meal. I smile back, confused, and explain that my partner makes me and the little creature in me a vitamin shake every morning.

I’m glad I told my boss about the pregnancy before I signed the contract. Certainly not everything will be going according to plan, but it was essential to have one and show my interest in the job. I also know that now.

I am supported and my skills are valued. So much so that after only two months of work I can go on maternity leave for three months with the guarantee that I can return to work afterward. A week ago I found an exciting job offer. Although I now have half a position that is enough for me for the first time, I will apply for it. I’m just looking forward to the interview – especially the reactions to my pregnancy.