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I work for a pretty small company, but they have told me they are in the process of creating a handbook of policy, expectations, etc. I would like to know our maternity leave policy but am not yet ready to announce my pregnancy as it is still very early on. Can I be denied access to company policy info?

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    The only way to find out is to ask. Of course, asking will reveal certain things in and of itself. If you're uncomfortable announcing your pregnancy, probably hold off asking until you're OK with HR knowing. There's no conceivable reason why they wouldn't answer your inquiry. – AndreiROM Jan 9 '17 at 18:00
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    You mean "allowed access", right? – Erik Jan 9 '17 at 18:07
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    Wait it out. The employee handbook should be ready within say two weeks while your pregnancy will take several months before it shows. You're better off with the info you seek direct from the source and in hard copy rather than hearsay. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 9 '17 at 18:22
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    @VietnhiPhuvan You suggest it might be only two weeks, but that's an assumption. Without prodding, it may well be more than several months. There's no way of knowing the priority of that particular task. – thursdaysgeek Jan 9 '17 at 18:50
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    @thursdaygeek - If I were her, I'd simply ask HR when the employee manual will be ready. I wouldn't be surprised if it's two weeks unless the production of the employee manual is low, low on HR's list of priorities. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 9 '17 at 18:56
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One option would be to ask about several policies, including maternity leave. Come up with questions about details on leave in general, with maternity being just one.

I know the handbook isn't ready yet, but I have questions about our leave policies. I know we get 2 weeks of vacation (mention something you understand), but I'd like to know more details. For instance, what are the policies on short term leave? If I get hurt and needed short term disability, what are the policies there? What about maternity leave? What do we offer for that? I have an aging parent - what are the details of our bereavement leave, or do we have that? I guess what I'm asking -- do we have all that nailed down, and if so, can I see that part now?

So, you've put that as just one of the items, reasonable things to ask about, and not called out your pregnancy at all.

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No employee handbook available, how can I check policy discretely?

If you have a friendly contact in HR or senior management, you could ask them. And mention that you'd like this to be confidential.

Maybe you have a coworker friend who has used maternity leave in the past and would be willing to talk about it confidentially.

How can I be denied access to company policy info?

You aren't being denied anything.

The policy exists, at least in someone's head. There's no rule requiring that you have a way to access the info in a handbook format.

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I was in this situation a few years ago with paternity leave.

The company had no formal policy so when I asked my boss we had to sit down and hash it out. This led to a negotiation that resulted in a week of full pay and one week of statutory (UK, at the time was about 20% of my weekly wage) instead of 2 weeks statutory. This then became company policy, with the option of using holiday to extend the time off up to a month.

You might be able to negotiate and shape policy in a similar way.

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Just Ask HR

You don't have to declare your current pregnancy status. If pressed, you can say that you're planning for children and would like to know the process.

If there's not one in place yet, then just assume whatever is statutory in your country (which I guess should be pretty reasonable and fairly close to what should happen).

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    It's a huge red flag. In case the company needed to trim workers she would be the first to go. That is if they didn't directly fire her before the pregnancy bacame an issue, – LNubiola Jan 10 '17 at 17:55
  • This depends on the employment laws in the relevant country. – user44108 Jan 10 '17 at 19:31
  • There's two options, pregnancy is protected or it is not. But I've never heard of a country that protects pregnancy plans. Is there any? I'm a woman and I'm planning for babies and no way in hel will I tell my manager before the fact, even when I'm highly valued and have a very good relationship with HER, who's also at an age where pregnancy could be expected. – LNubiola Jan 11 '17 at 9:02
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    Here in the UK, it would be considered extremely discriminatory to fire someone for asking about maternity leave policy. – user44108 Jan 11 '17 at 9:08
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    Yes, but it's even harder to prove that as the cause than pregnancy itself. – LNubiola Jan 11 '17 at 9:12

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