When to Tell Boss I May Not Come Back After Baby #2 Is Born.

Updated on February 18, 2010
K.H. asks from Davison, MI
25 answers

I work for a small company of mostly men. Until I had baby #1 they had never even dealt with anyone who was pregnant let alone have a maternity leave policy. I've worked here for almost 9 years. It's a family owned business and I love the people I work with. I don't want to burn any bridges. For baby #1 they gave me 6 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. I believe they are planning the same thing for this baby.

I, however, am about 98% sure that I don't want to come back to work full time. My company needs a full time worker so part time is not really an option. I worked out the differences and weighed all the pros & cons and have decided that I am going to get a part time evening job a couple of days a week but I won't be working full time or during the day like i am now. We have a lot of seasonal workers so I'm not even sure if we would qualify for the FMLA rules - pretty sure not.

My question is this: When do I tell my bosses I'm not returning to work after the baby is born? Here is the big problem... the insurance my family has is through my job and I NEED my insurance to cover the birth. That is not negotiable. It has to cover the birth. We are going to get insurance on our own through my husbands work but we'll have to pay for 100% of the coverage so I don't want to get a plan that covers maternity since they are SIGNIFICANTLY more $ in premiums. I also don't want to burn any bridges. These people are good people and they are going to be the kind of people you want to keep in touch with for years after you leave. They know a lot of people and have lots of community connections and are generally just good people to have around. Do I tell them beforehand so I can train someone for my job and chance that the insurance won't cover me if I don't work on the day I give birth? or do I wait until I come back from maternity leave and just tell them that I've decided that my family needs me and I just can't continue to work full time? Is there another option I'm not seeing? I don't think they'd fire me even if they knew I wasn't coming back but I'm really worried about this.

BTW- We don't get set vacation and sick days. If you go on vacation, they pay you. If you're actually sick, they pay you. There is no policy saying you get "X" days per year or anything so I can't take vacation pay to extend my insurance or anything.

I'm only 8 weeks so I've got plenty of time to deal with this but I'm totally stressing over it!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for all the input. I have plenty of time to make any kind of decision on this but I'm a worrier so I wanted to get some sort of "plan" in my head for the future. I don't like to wing it.

They already know I'm pregnant and fully support it. I think what I'm going to do is this:

1) I'm not going to mention at all that I may not come back but at the same time, I'm going to work on getting my life in order (paying things off, getting rid of things we don't need, start living more frugally, etc.) as if I am staying home so that if/when I do decide to it won't be so hard on us.
2) I'll plan on coming back to work temporarily to make sure that I am covered on insurance and so that I can give a notice and train someone new.
3) I don't think they will offer for me to work part time... at least not for long. I will be coming back on the off season (though us office people do work year round) so there won't be tons of work to do so they may let me come back part time for a month or two and I'm sure they'd like me to train someone since THEY don't even know what I do! :)

I think this would be the best approach for my family and won't hurt the business either. Who knows, after 6 weeks off I may change my mind an WANT to come back! :) Doubtfull though. I want to stay home for a year or so and only work part time and then go back to school and change my career completely (I'm bored here!).

Thank you everyone for the input. I don't even know anyone who has ever done this. They all either quit while pregnant or stayed working full time afterward!

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

The economy is horrible. I would seriously consider not leaving your job after baby #2, especially because you carry the insurance. If you leave, I believe it will be a decision you will regret. It is nearly impossible to find a decent job nowadays, full or part time. There are lawyers and others with higher education applying for jobs that pay 30K a year, this is serious stuff. It doesn't sound too bad there. Please put much thought into this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Hi K.,

You have soooo much time between now and when you deliver. Please put this aside for right now and do your best work. Rest when you get home and let your husband help you through the pregnancy with home and your toddler. You have no idea what might happen in the ensuing months. You also don't want to take a chance that something would happen with your husband's job before the baby comes.

You need the health insurance more than you need anything else. You have a pre-existing condition - I don't believe that you will be able to buy coverage for your pregnancy. If you have complications, you don't want to be seen as not coming back to work. I went into preterm labor at 24 weeks and spent the rest of the time on bedrest with one of my pregnancies. If something like this were to happen to you, you would regret talking about the possibility of not coming back to work after the baby is born.

You can be as good to your employer as you can be. You can also decide after the baby comes that you don't want to return to work. Women do that all the time, and people do understand. Just have all your work up to date so that when you go on maternity leave, you haven't left any mess. You could even go in with the baby and train your replacement if you have such a small workplace. I went in with my stroller and helped out one day myself when people were out and they were in a bind. Nursed and worked, and baby slept through most of it - LOL!

If you are nice and offer to help and make every effort to accommodate them, you won't burn bridges. But don't talk at all about not coming back. You need to let this pregnancy come to term first.

Congrats on the new baby!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

I was in the same situation. I didn't want to return and I worked at a big family owned company with people I liked. The thing is, they have to play by rules just like everyone else whether they like you or not. I was certain I didn't want to return and when I had my son and it turned out he had multiple disabilities I REALLY didn't want to return. He needed me. I waited until the end of my leave to inform them I wasn't returning. What did they do? They put my end date as being the last day I worked - which was before the baby. Lucky for me there is a loophole in FMLA that states if you have extenuating circumstances you do not have to return to work following a leave (ie: my unhealthy baby). I was told to pay my insurance premiums from the time I left to the present. If I remember right they wanted me to pay back my maternity too though I don't think I ended up doing that. Later on, I was told by HR that if I had returned to work for even just one day after my leave there would not have been a problem with me quiting. No paying anything. I would definitely try to find out what the rules are in your company. I know you said you don't have set vacation days but as soon as you quit or set a quit date they will take away all your vacation days too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My daughter was in a similar situation and just waited till she was due to return to work. She and I took the baby in the week before that and she told them she had made the tough decision not to leave this little to return to work. Sometimes small companies can work out something where you can work from home and come in only for meetings or very part-time, but hers was a full-time job that involved international travel. She also needed the paid leave and insurance coverage, so she did it that way. There didn't seem to be any hard feelings, though she moved from that area and didn't try to keep in touch. I think they always know that it's iffy when someone has a baby. You are my hero for putting your babies first and doing what's best for them! You go Girl! I once gave extra notice when I was leaving a job to move out of state, and was dismissed on the spot with no further work or pay. It caused me a lot of problems but I learned from that not to give employers more information than I absolutely had to. The marketplace is cruel even if people seem very nice and like family. It's still a business arrangement, and you've given them 9 years of your life. don't feel guilty. Your family is your primary concern, and new babies need their mamas!



answers from Detroit on

Dear K.,

I would tell them the truth, just as you have stated it. I would wait until you-re about 7 months along, then tell them you think you're going to stay home and want to give them a chance to train someone with you still around. They should appreciate that. I would also tell them that you need the insurance to continue until you've had the baby. If they are really good people, they should be fine with that too, especially if you end up working until the birth. You'll be surprised how fast 2-3 years may go by--you may want to come back to work, and if you are honest with them, they may offer you a job again. Good luck--




answers from Boston on

Do not show your hand early. Jobs are scarce. When your maternity leave winds down, ask to come back on a part time basis instead of full time. You assume they will say no, but maybe they will take you up on it. You never know. You might not get benefits, but you might not get them anywhere else either.


answers from Kalamazoo on

I'd advise you to be honest with them, and let them know how much you appreciate them and how their business runs. I'd wait a little longer, like maybe halfway through your pregnancy, that way they have a few months to find a new person and get you to train them. They should appreciate your honesty and consideration. And who knows, maybe they can work something out for you to go part time?

I worked for a large company and when we moved an hour away I let them know I would no longer work for them, and started trying to get pregnant. They kept trying to jokingly pressure me to commute and so I'd joke back that they should let me work from home online. Well, that's what they worked out for me, it was incredible! I felt bad once I announced I was pregnant (since I didn't want it to look like I was trying to take advantage of the situation), but they were fine with me dropping to part time after the baby was born while I worked from home. I had to become a temp worker, but they found a temp agency where I could still get insurance benefits through, and they upped my hourly wages to compensate for my loss of insurance. It was more then I could've asked for or even dreamed of, and I'm so glad that I was up front with them. I let them know I was pregnant early on, since we'd already been talking about my leaving for a few months in advance (my husband was in med school so they knew the schedule of how long we'd be in the area). Anyway, you never know what an employer will do to keep you on when you're a valuable worker. And if they can't, they'll appreciate your honesty and giving them a chance to find a great new employee!!!



answers from Detroit on

I didn't read the other responses first so if some have said this I am sorry.

I think you already know what the right thing to do is. I would definitely go to them now and explain what you are thinking, maybe there is something they can do that you aren't thinking of to not loose you. They seem like really good people and have done much for you. Maybe an option would be to job share, you didn't say what you did there, so maybe they could have someone during the day to do the phones, customer service and you could do the paperwork end, filing stuff in the evenings.

Congrats and baby # 2 and remember everything works out for a reason( even though they are not always clear at first). Best of luck.



answers from Detroit on

I would totally agree w/ Dawn on her answer...

You never know what is going to happen throughout the pregnancy and if you need the insurance, you need to keep quiet...also, i'm sure the paid maternity leave is only offered w/ the assumption you are returning to work...

You can also decide after the baby comes that you don't want to return to work. Women do that all the time, and people do understand...you won't burn bridges if you offer to help & train a replacement...

if you are not prepared to give back the paid maternity leave...i would also go w/ the suggestion of returning to work for a short time and then "deciding" it wasn't right for you...this would involve arranging care for 2-3 weeks after leave, but may be the best option for you..

business is business and you never know what may happen...even though it's like a family - it isn't! the company must protect their interests too and that may mean letting you go before the baby is born and cancelling your insurance! not worth the risk in my opinion!

best of luck to you & your family!



answers from Washington DC on

What about offering to help train the replacement that will be running things while you are on maternity leave?

I think I would wait to make your final decision/announcement. Perhaps you could try to come back, feel it out, and then make a decision.




answers from Philadelphia on

I would wait as long as possible before even mentioning that you are pregnant. Like someone else said, there isn't any law that says you HAVE to inform your employer that you are pregnant. I think it's just a common thing to tell since most women are excited and at some point you will start to show and you can only blame it on eating too many sweets for so long. ;)

I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child the first day of my new job. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions. I ended up telling my boss the next day, but that was only because I was in training and knew I would need time off for doctors appts. Long story short, I didn't qualify for FMLA because I hadn't worked for a year yet by the time the baby was born. I was able to take 12 weeks (most of that unpaid -- I had to use all of my banked vacation & sick time to maintain a paycheck while I was out). I never really had my mind made up when I left for maternity leave whether I was coming back or not. I left it as I was going to come back. It wasn't until my maternity leave was almost over that I made the decision that financially it wasn't worth me working to put the new baby in a daycare. So I gave my notice 2 weeks before the end of my maternity leave. I found out later that my employer ended my insurance coverage the day I gave my notice. I was in your position too, where I had to have the insurance coverage to cover the birth.

Chances are that the insurance plan your employer has is considered a group, which probably means they are getting a deal for having multiple employees signed up with benefits. So it's not like you are single-handedly taking advantage of them.

If you are really worried about burning bridges, why not come back for a week after your maternity leave and then let them know that you tried coming back, but it's just not working out for you and your family and then give your notice. I would commend you for staying on board long enough to train your replacement, and I'm sure your employer would greatly appreciate that. So maybe you could find a way to have baby coverage for 2-3 weeks until you can get out of work on your own guilt-free terms?

I wish you the best of luck in your decision. And who knows, maybe you will change your mind by then and want to stay on with your current job.

Congrats on the pregnancy, btw! =)



answers from Orlando on

If you don't want to burn any bridges, you need to be honest.


answers from Detroit on

You will have to go back to work for two weeks after the baby and give proper notice.



answers from Denver on

Play it smart and close to the vest. Don't give your boss any hint that you are not planning to return after baby #2 because what happens if you change your mind and want to come back? Dont give your notice until you know for certain that you want to quit and are able to quit that day, even if it is during your maternity leave. Have all of your insurance and financial ducks in a row before quitting as well. You wont burn any bridges by not telling -



answers from Detroit on

I've read most of the responses, but I do want to add this since I am an HR Manager for a small company: If your business is less than 50 employees, they do not have to grant you FMLA. That is the new law. Your company can adopt their own "version" of FMLA (as I persuaded our bosses to do) but under NO circumstances are they required to give it to you. Kinda puts a wrench in things for most pegnant people or people who take care of their parents.



answers from San Francisco on

Okay this is a tough one! I understand completely what you are saying... I am a working mom and I can not even imagine being between insurances and all that stuff when almost due. Is it in any way possible that you can come back part-time? If training someione is an issue, maybe you can stick around part-time after birth to train someone? Aggh, tough one! I'd say your family is your priority and keep it that way. It is just so unfortuante that women in America even have to think about these things wile pregnant! (I come from Europe and we are not as much burdened with such decisions over there bcs of more humane approach to medicine and different labour laws). Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

Hi K., I can understand why you are worried about this! I wouldn't tell them until after the baby is born. I can understand Mom on the Go's points from an HR perspective but I don't think you can risk it.

With my first (and only) baby, my boss asked/hinted a million times that I might not be coming back to work after my maternity leave. He kept saying that things change and he would understand if I didn't. Perhaps your company may start to think this as the time gets closer, especially since you will have two children. This may lead to an opportunity to discuss possibilities after the birth and once you get a feel that they won't fire you, etc you can tell them?

It's hard when you work for small companies that don't really have set policies, I've worked for them most of my life. They're usually so accommodating but you just don't know what will happen when push comes to shove. Good luck and I hope that it all works out for you!



answers from Detroit on

Gee.... What do you do for a living? Can I take over your job???? HAHA! :)

Joking aside.... With you only being 8 weeks along, I wouldn't try to stress about it too much. If you've been working with the company for 9 years, you have probably built up a good rapport with the owners/managers, so I would suggest you wait until you're more like halfway through to speak to them about leaving your position. Find out if there's something they can do with you, offer you COBRA, that way you are covered if they have to replace you prior to your child being born. Offering to train a new individual is a good bargaining chip, I'd keep that just in case. :)

Good luck!



answers from Orlando on

That's a hard one. I would say ...... think of yourself & your family first. As "bad" as that might sound. You need insurance & the paid maternity leave. And, as far as you know ... who knows. When the time comes you "might" change your mind and want to stay with the company?? I would wait. I would actually wait until after you have the baby....... PS don't stress about it! :-)


answers from Houston on

I would not tell them at all before the birth.


answers from Chicago on

I was in the same situation. I wasn't fond of my last employer, so I didn't care as much, but I had to wait until the very last minute of my maternity leave to let them know that I was not coming back or risk losing our health insurance. I think you should let them know that the family needs you, ask about working from home PT or something like that (it's worth a shot and you never know what they might say!). For me, they were not willing to work on either of those scenarios, so I just chose to leave. I didn't have a paid mat. leave, I took unpaid FMLA, so I didn't feel too bad having them pay for my insurance during that time. It's worth asking them about another option- as you said, they never had a reason to work out a maternity leave policy, so maybe they would be willing to work on a mutually beneficial situation to keep you.

Good luck!
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answers from Chicago on

Here's my advice (I used to work in HR):

#1 If you don't want to lose your insurance and you don't plan on returning to work, then MOST companies would expect you to return after your leave. Obviously it is very expensive for them to cover your medical maternity and your leave - especially if you are the only female in the office.

#2 You CAN wait until you are 12 weeks along to tell them, there's no rule that says you have to tell them earlier...most people do by the because they are showing. There's also no law (that I'm aware of) that you HAVE to return to work. However, I have heard of companies recovering their paid maternity leave expenses if an employee does not return after a short term disability. So be advised.

#3 If you don't want to burn your bridges and don't want to lose your insurance coverage, the honest thing to do is to talk with them upfront. If you have a good relationship with you they will try to keep you working there, even if it's part time in the evenings after the birth of your child. Explain that you want to have a win-win situation. That you love working there and appreciate the good benefits (insurance coverage, maternity leave, etc.) and that you want you are having this conversation with them early so that you can mutually agree on a plan to either replace you and train your replacement AND find a way you can keep working there after the birth of your child.

Keep in mind, this does give them the chance to find a reason to fire you between now and then OR not grant you paid maternity leave. I know this stinks, but I've seen it happen.

It sounds like you have a good realtionship with them. Therefore I would give them the benefit of the doubt and try to approach this conversation early. Have a game plan that creates a win-win situation for both of you. Employers never want to lose good employees. And they will be more willing to work with you if YOU come up with a plan that supports the business and their customers.

Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

I would wait awhile. First get throught the first trimester. Second, make sure you really aren't coming back. Even if they aren't a big enough company to be FMLA compliant they still can not discriminate because of your pregnancy. I would be covering my own rear end if I was in your shoes, wait until you deliver and then after about 2 or 3 weeks tell them you've decided you can't come back full time etc etc etc. Sure some people may think this is wrong to do but they could always find another reason to get rid of you, or drop your insurance or whatever.



answers from Detroit on

I am speaking from an employer stand point. My husband and I have a few different companies, and have about 28 employees between the both of them. I would not worry about telling them anytime soon, but I am going to go against the grain here and say that you should at least talk to them about it before your maternity leave. You have worked with them a long time and it sounds like you have a respectful relationship on both ends. I agree with one of the other posts, that they may want to work something out that works better for you after the maternity leave. You might also be suprised that it's not as easy finding a part time job a couple nights a week. Those jobs are also very scarce. IF, they did not respond graciously, I believe, they would have to offer you Cobra, and you could just pay for your last month or two of coverage through them. (You can pay for Cobra up to 18 months after your insurance terminates). They sound like a great employer and I would be up front with them, but not till about a month before your delivery date (you might also change your mind by then).



answers from Detroit on

I have been in your exact situation. I actually decided to work part time, and realize I have my cake and can eat it too. I am very grateful.

I am now an employer in the same small company... speak up as soon as possible. Let them know what you are thinking... they will be sad, but by giving them 7 months notice, that allows your replacement to be trained - by you. Provide an end date, unless baby arrives earlier of course that everyone agrees to. As long as you are employed there, you will have the insurance. In a small company, employers invest in the actual employees (not a number)... by you being up front and honest with them, gives them time to adjust and plan for the future of the company.

Then at the end of the meeting, promise to visit with the kids often (so you have a netwrok to fall back on if you decide to work again one day!). Perhaps even allow for contractual work on the side if you are able to do that?

Next question: Not Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Best Way to Handle It?