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A coworker announced his wife was pregnant a couple of months ago. We work remotely for a small tech startup in Spain. He is a great employee and I think the manager knows it: he is devoted and recently identified a key issue that has to be addressed immediately.

Today he told me they are having complications with the pregnancy and there is risk of miscarriage. He has to wait until next week to know it for sure. Understandably, he told me he was feeling unwell and having difficulties in concentrating due to the pregnancy issues.

He asked me for advice. This is what we came up with:

  • Talking to the manager and explain the situation with the pregnancy, in hopes of reducing pressure and that a temporary performance drop could be expected. The manager already knows that he is having a baby.

  • Taking some days off.

I am just a newbie, is this good advice? Did I forget something?

UPDATE: Thanks for your answers, this experience is very valuable.

Given that many people mention that PTOs (paid time off) are the way to go: unfortunately, they are called "días de asuntos propios" in Spain and are not guaranteed by law for the private sector.

The manager agreed to let him have some anyway!

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  • "not guaranteed..." - surely Spain implements the EU working time directive, which requires 4 weeks PTO?
    – Steve
    Jan 14, 2023 at 8:57

2 Answers 2

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Quite a sensible topic, I personally wouldn't disclose a possible miscarriage of my partner to my manager or HR, especially without her consent since this is VERY private medical information.

Maybe taking some PTO or holiday-days is the best advice..

Additionally your coworker could talk to their manager and state some vague family/medical issue and ask for less work-load, but since the manager is already aware that he'll (hopefully) be a father in the near future, the manager might add up the numbers.

Edit from the comments:

"Mm so is disclosing pregnancy related info with the manager not a good practice? I am usually very careful when talking about health and family but I'll add pregnancy to the list :)"

There's always the risk of a miscarriage:

Spontaneous abortion, also known as miscarriage, is defined as the loss of pregnancy less than 20 weeks gestation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates it is the most common form of pregnancy loss. It is estimated that as many as 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and up to 10% of clinically recognized pregnancies.

-> Source (stats for US)

Especially in the first 3-4 months of a pregnancy, so I fully agree with you. But eventually - maybe 1-2 months or so to the due-date - he eventually wants to disclose the fact that he'll be a father soon in case he wants to take parental leave, which obviously needs to be considered by management in terms of replacement, shift of work-load and deadlines..

Clarification PTO vs holiday days:

Sometimes, these terms are used interchangeably. But they’re not exactly the same. There are many differences between PTO and vacation — from the level of flexibility that comes with these two types of leave to the difficulty of keeping track of them. Jury duties, bereavement, paternity/maternity leave, volunteer work etc. are qualified reasons for PTO.

-> Source

Obviously the above mentioned points depend on your local labor-laws and regulations as well as special agreements with the employer.

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    PTO - best thing to do.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 11, 2023 at 11:48
  • Mm so is disclosing pregnancy related info with the manager not a good practice? I am usually very careful when talking about health and family but I'll add pregnancy to the list :) Jan 11, 2023 at 11:51
  • @BrainOverflow Pls see my edit..
    – iLuvLogix
    Jan 11, 2023 at 11:57
  • Ouch, not sure if I am getting right the last edit. I am (unfortunately) aware that a miscarriage is not so uncommon. So I think your suggestion is disclosing the pregnancy a couple of months before the baby is born but no earlier, since there is always a risk. I am getting it right? Jan 11, 2023 at 12:10
  • I would have phrased it differently: I think the definition and detailed statistics about miscarriages are off-topic (just saying that 20% of pregnancies are at risk would be enough), and I would not have quoted my comment. But thanks anyway and I will keep the advice in mind Jan 11, 2023 at 12:14
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I am just a newbie, is this good advice?

These are ok options, nothing obviously wrong here. In the future, make sure you only engage if you feel that you have good and informed advice. If you need to shoot from the hip, defer or decline: "Sorry, this not my area of expertise" or "Let me think about it for a bit" are good answers too.

The problem here is: if you give advice and it goes side-ways it will backfire on you, specifically if you didn't do your homework properly upfront. Good advice should be based on research, data and experience, not on gut feel.

Did I forget something?

Yes. These type of situations are entangled with local labor laws and company policies. That's what HR is for. If you have a half way decent HR department, your coworker should approach them and discuss the pros/cons of the different options which could include PTO, temporary part time, just cutting them some slack, medical or family leave of absence, etc.

HR is also better at keeping confidentialities and create accommodation for "personal issues" without anyone else having to know what this issue is. HR also will make sure that any action taken is fully compliant with laws and rules.

UPDATE: Thanks for your answers, this experience is very valuable.

Given that many people mention that PTOs (paid time off) are the way to go: unfortunately, they are called "días de asuntos propios" in Spain and are not guaranteed by law for the private sector.

The manager agreed to let him have some either way!

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    I agree with your first & second paragraph - therefore the upvote, but I think you overestimate the confidentiality of HR departments and forget about the fact that HR pull their ropes for the benefit of the company, and not for the employees..
    – iLuvLogix
    Jan 11, 2023 at 14:28
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    It always surprising to me how the role of HR is misunderstood. HR is neither your friend nor your enemy. Their job is to KNOW all the rules and make sure everyone is COMPLIANT. HR will not disclose anything internally if they are legally not allowed to do so. In most legislations that includes medical information.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 11, 2023 at 15:31
  • Thank you, I like the "let me think about it for a bit" approach. On the other hand, I do not trust HR in my company. They are doing a bad job with bureaucratic stuff, they are one of the main shareholders of the company and they are pressing the manager for results (not me). They will definitively act on behalf of the company. Jan 11, 2023 at 15:47
  • I messed up the edit, and I do not know how to revert it omg... Jan 11, 2023 at 16:08

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