Steps to Take at Work

As was discussed in Chapter 2, every father-to-be must assess his company's work culture before he announces to his colleagues and his boss that he is going to become a father. Some companies will be supportive, but many will not because they believe becoming a father may make you slightly less devoted to the organization. You may be less willing (and able) to work after hours or travel for long periods away from home, and your boss may not like this.

In many cases, what happens when a man becomes a father is that he becomes more devoted to his job, not less. The reason is obvious: he needs that precious lucre. Many fathers-to-be work overtime (or take a second job) to pay off bills and build up their nest egg. Pregnancy is a good time for this because the baby has not yet arrived and your responsibilities at home are not as great as they will be after he's born.

Whatever your job, you are almost certainly not the first person in the history of your organization to become a parent. Your company (and your wife's, too) has policies and procedures in place regarding these issues. Here are the basic steps to take:

  • Read the announcement postings in your lunchroom or break room to see what state and federal regulations apply to you.

  • Learn about the Family Medical and Leave Act as well as the paid vacation, sick, and personal leave policies at your company.

  • Talk to other employees who are parents to see how they proceeded.

  • Review your employee manual (if your organization has one) to see what your rights and responsibilities are.

  • Talk to the human resources department to make sure you understand the company's procedures and policies.

  • Talk to your supervisor or boss about your plans.

The more informed you are, the better off you and your partner will be. Policies vary widely, though, and her company may handle things differently than yours does. She will need to go through the same information-gathering process at her job.

Don't wait until the last minute to tell your employer that you are going to be a father and that you want some time off when the baby arrives. Most companies do not appreciate surprises of this kind. They need and deserve time to plan for your absence to ensure your work gets done while you're gone.

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