I'm currently one year into working an 18-month maternity cover. I love my job and I want to stay working there in the long term.

I've had excellent performance reviews and positive feedback over the past year. I've been told many times by my boss and other senior managers (including the CEO) that there will be a permanent job for me after my contract ends. I keep hearing that they love me and will find a way to keep me.

But I haven't told them that I'm almost three months pregnant, and due two weeks after my temporary contract finishes.

I'm pretty sure that once I tell them, the promise of a permanent role will just disappear. My manager has made disparaging comments in the past about women 'disappearing' off on maternity leave so I don't trust her to advocate for me when the end of my contract comes around.

A permanent role would guarantee I can come back to a workplace I love and would provide me with maternity top up pay, which would be really helpful for my financial situation. Seeing as my boss won't be able to formalise an offer until at least June – when I'll be six months pregnant – I'll need to tell her before then.

How and when should I tell my boss that I'm pregnant in order to best protect my chances of still being offered a permanent role?

  • 2
    Is your concern about being able to collect whatever maternity benefits the employer offers, or will EI be enough? I expect if you told your boss that you are happy to start permanent 4 months or 12 months or 18 months after the end of this contract, they would get another maternity fill and work with your start date. But in that case you would not get the benefits. Does that matter? Feb 24, 2021 at 1:55
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    You really need to speak to an employment lawyer in your jurisdiction specializing in discrimination. A formal accepted offer may not be enough of a binding contract to guarantee that they won't try to renege on it with some bs reason. Also, I disagree with Dan. I don't think you can trust your boss. I would only tell your boss if you had absolutely no other choice, or after having been given the go-ahead by your lawyer. Those people are not your friends. It doesn't matter how nice they may be to you during the day. Feb 24, 2021 at 7:35
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    "Ideally I'd wait until receiving an offer before telling her I'm pregnant." - please keep in mind, doing this appears like "now as I am safe I tell you things will be completely different than you expected, haha but that's your problem, see how you deal with it" to management. This could damage the impression management and other employees have about you.
    – puck
    Feb 24, 2021 at 8:38
  • What exactly is a maternity cover? I am only guessing you are filling in for someone else who has taken 18 months maternity leave?
    – Donald
    Feb 24, 2021 at 13:30
  • 2
    @Fattie should it be?
    – puck
    Feb 24, 2021 at 15:53

5 Answers 5


Ideally I'd wait until receiving an offer before telling her I'm pregnant. But seeing as my boss won't be able to formalise an offer until at least June – when I'll be six months pregnant – it seems impractical to wait until then.

It sounds to me like you want to keep your pregnancy private and I don't think anyone, even when obvious, would point out that you're pregnant or ask you when your baby is due. I've been around situations where someone was asked if they were pregnant and it turned out they weren't and the fall out was pretty severe and although I wasn't the one who asked, I learned the lesson not to ask, even if very obvious.

With that said, I think it is within your best interest to disclose it. While you don't have to disclose it, and I'm sure Canadian laws are similar to US laws, it would probably not be in your best interest to just suddenly drop a maternity leave before they can make a plan as to how you can stay on board.

I think a good idea is to ask your boss if you can have a private chat with him/her. Tell him/her that you really want to be on a permanent role, but your due date is near the time the contract ends and you're worried you won't be offered a full time role. Your boss may tell you that they really want you to stay on board and help you out.

Either way, it is best to put it out there that they know you want a permanent job and on top of that you're worried that a maternity leave will hurt your chances at a permanent title. Even if you got the permanent title, and suddenly dropped it on them that you're now out, it may hurt your chances for future promotions and considerations.

  • 9
    I think your advice of telling the boss (without consulting with a lawyer first) is bad advice. She's in a pickle. She can't trust her boss. Pregnant employees are a perceived burden on companies. She needs to know her rights before she discloses that kind of information to her boss or before she discloses it to anyone else within the company. Feb 24, 2021 at 7:44
  • "and I don't think anyone, even when obvious, would point out that you're pregnant or ask you when your baby is due" - perhaps they won't ask but they will talk about that in the background. It's getting more obvious as time goes by and probably the superiors will wonder if they have to rethink their good opinion about OP, because she keeps this fact secret although it is an essential change in the situation. Wondering "does she really believe we won't notice?" could shed another negative light on OP.
    – puck
    Feb 24, 2021 at 8:29
  • Yes, honesty is usually appreciated.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 24, 2021 at 9:11
  • How can be in her best interest to disclose if she might get dumped?
    – nicola
    Feb 24, 2021 at 9:50
  • @StephanBranczyk The way I see it is no matter what ultimately the boss is going to find out and ultimately is going to decide on it. It's best to be up front about it to make your position known and see what they say so you can best prepare. Going to a lawyer typically cost $100-200 an hour, and a lawyer will never know the outcome of a case unless they go to court which is going to cost 1000s since they charge per hour. Is that a smarter idea vs just telling the boss and then preparing for whatever he might say good or bad?
    – Dan
    Feb 24, 2021 at 14:08

You are in very tough spot and I think you should consider your self interest first. So, ask a lawyer and/or talk to an union. In parallel, collect any evidence regarding your reviews and feedback you had. You might need to prove that you were an excellent employee. It's true that you don't know how they might react; maybe they will just be happy for you and do their best for keeping you. But maybe not. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

So, depending on your local laws, a couple of scenarios.

  • It's very hard for your company to fire/not renew you after having the news, even if they would like. Maybe they could not renew you, but the onus might be on them and they might face heavy backlash if a court rules that their behavior was unlawful. Here you are a little safer in telling the truth. You establish trust and have just a little chance to lose the job.
  • You are not protected under the law. Just don't tell anything before you get the permanent position. Sure, if they wanted to dump you this would jeopardize your chances of growth in the company. However, if that's the case, you are choosing between getting dumped right now or not having an easy life in the future within the company. I don't have any doubt that the second is the lesser of the two evils. You can have your paid maternity leave (if the law in your country has it), come back to work with a salary, have the time to update your CV and find another job. That's the worst case. If they dump right now, your life might be very hard for the next few months.

Just a comment about the advocacy of telling the truth. So, the employer is free to dump you the same day. An employee can leave the company basically at any moment or with a very short notice. But, if you get pregnant, you have to tell six months in advance! And you are not even leaving permanently, but just for a few months. Come on. Act in your best interest. In an ideal world you could tell the truth and be protected by everybody. But we don't live in a perfect world.

If you want to talk about honesty (which I very much value), ask yourself if any company have told clearly to a new hire: "If you get pregnant, we will fire you". They don't and they do fire. You don't owe them that kind of honesty.


You probably need to tell them you're pregnant - eventually. But eventually doesn't mean right now. It's illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy so I don't have any sympathy for them wanting to know it before offering you a job (that's the textbook definition of discrimination, yeah?).

What I would do is start working towards the permanent role now. Bring it up, encourage progress towards formalizing it. They should understand that there's risk in waiting till the end of a contract to extend a permanent offer, namely that you'd go do something else instead; even contracts need months to set up and professional contractors don't just wait till their last day to see what happens. Say "I'm starting to look at what I do after this contract ends; I'd love a permanent position here but it'd be better to get that nailed down sooner rather than later so I don't have hedge my own risk by investigating other options."

Best case, they go ahead and extend an offer. But even if there's just progress on that front with documented communication, they are in a much harder spot in terms of deciding to actively discriminate. Current state, it's very easy for them to say "oh she was a contractor and the contract ended, nothing else matters." But if there's an existing sequence of good reviews and work towards a permanent offer, that starts looking a lot worse if they back out.

Then, you can tell them when you think it's starting to push it to not mention it.


It sounds indeed unlikely that you can hide your pregnancy until a new/permanent contract is offered. This indeed puts you in a bit of a tough spot. However it is possible that the comments of your direct manager might make you see everything unnecessary gloomy. The company already planned/commited to employing you for a long period. They did so fully well aware that you are a woman of childbearing age, so the possibility of you getting pregnant soon might already have been factored in. Some people in your company might grumble a bit (in private). But if you are a reasonable paid white-collar worker in mid-sized/big company having you on maternity leave for a few months soon might not make such a big difference if they calculated you working there for 5/10 years or even your whole career.

Off-course this assessment of mine could be totally wrong in your particular case, it could indeed be a s#&! company that likes to get rid of women that get pregnant. However look beyond the statements of your direct manager to evaluate whichever is more likely.


Based on your own actual evaluation:

My manager has made disparaging comments in the past about women 'disappearing' off on maternity leave so I don't trust her to advocate for me when the end of my contract comes around.

My gut instinct would be "screw 'em". Unfortunately, internally accept that they are a hopeless (employer or contractee) for your situation. Dump them and move on.

The only other approach that may work:

  • You may be able to openly, bluntly, indeed humorously "win over" BadBoss by completely "owning the room" on the topic with BadBoss.

Lead with it ...

"Boss, you know how often we've made fun of women who disappear to have another kid? They're not team players. They're out for what they can get. They leave us in the middle of projects! Well guess what?! That's right - four months now! What the hell eh? Can we figure something out here? When I'm back in action in a year I would love to join this company and work for you."

At a stroke you have totally "disabled" any me/you tension from BadBoss over the issue. It could be BadBoss then thinks more openly and finds some sort of solution.

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