Q. I've been back from my maternity leave for 10 months, and I'm pregnant again. My company is downsizing, so I'm afraid to tell my boss. What should I say and when should I say it?
A. If your company is downsizing and your entire unit is eliminated, you may lose your job along with all your other colleagues -- and there isn't much you can do about that. But the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against you simply because you're pregnant -- no matter how recently you had your last child -- so they can't fire or demote you. What's more, if your company employs 50 or more people and you've worked for at least 1,250 hours in the past year, it must provide up to 12 weeks of leave each year under FMLA. Your employer is not required to pay you, but your job and medical benefits are protected. And if your firm offers disability leave, it must give you the same amount of time off (and compensation) that it offers for other medical conditions.
At some point after your first trimester is over but before your bump shows (wear baggy clothes if you have to), break the news to your boss unapologetically but with a cooperative spirit when it comes to figuring out who will cover for you while you're gone. "Point out which arrangements worked well last time and suggest solutions for whatever didn't go as smoothly as it could have," says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, a global nonprofit research organization based in New York City.