Need advice on finding a job while pregnant.
April 15, 2011 7:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm seven months pregnant. I need to find a new job, stat. Advice?

I'm a statistician/researcher in a scientific field, working as a contractor for the federal government. The last budget? Slashed my main project, and as of Monday I'm on leave without pay until my company can find me more work. I don't trust my company to actually do this, not in any reasonable length of time. I'd love it if they could, though, because I'm seven months pregnant, and am very much looking forward to my 6 weeks of paid maternity leave that I should be starting in exactly two months. I'm worried I'll be let go before then. I'm not sure how evil my company is. They could lay me off before then, or they may take pity on me and at least try to string me along on other projects until June.

Either way, the long term prospects of working in my research group aren't good. I need to find a job. In my line of work, it could take months to find a job. Ideally, I'd like to start looking and applying for jobs right now, and then tell any prospective employers that I'd be starting in mid-August or early September. I'm very obviously pregnant, there's really no hiding that fact at this point.

So, my questions are:

1. My partner's employer just started offering domestic partner (and dp's child) health insurance (yay!). If I get laid off, and have to go onto that, will they cover me immediately? I don't want to go on COBRA. I'm certainly not excited about changing health insurance at this point in the pregnancy, but it seems to be the obvious best option.

2. I should be looking hardcore for a job right now, right? I'm worried I'll screw over my chances with prospective employers if I go into a job interview at 8.5 months pregnant. Not only do I worry I'll look desperate, but I'd rather not deal with the unconscious biases, etc.

3. If everything goes right, then I'll keep my job until I go on maternity leave. Then I'd start a new job shortly after returning from maternity leave. Will there be any penalty for this?

4. Anything else I should be considering at this point? I want to cover all my bases. I'm trying my hardest to keep a level head, and not be stressed, mainly for the health of the little man living in my belly.

Posting anonymously, for obvious reasons. Throwaway e-mail:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I get laid off, and have to go onto that, will they cover me immediately? I don't want to go on COBRA.

Check to see which life events for your DP's health insurance qualify you to join their plan. For example, if they had this coverage through Humana and Human offered DP benefits, a change in your benefit coverage (e.g. losing your current coverage) would qualify you to join your DP's plan without pre-existing conditions.
posted by jeanmari at 7:08 AM on April 15, 2011

I don't know how this works when someone is on leave, but if you are technically still an employee, you should file for FMLA for your pregnancy right now, even if you don't take it during pregnancy.

If you file for FMLA for your pregnancy, your job is protected. Also, document, document, document, document. Pregnancy is a protected class for employment, so if you suspect anything going down because you are pregnant, write down absolutely everything. Do you happen to belong to a union? If you do, you really should be talking to them, too.

(My sister had to file for FMLA for her pregnancy for similar reasons. She didn't take any FMLA time during her pregnancy and retained her full 12 weeks of leave for when the baby was here.)
posted by zizzle at 7:12 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

One clarification - FMLA would protect your job, but not if you would lose your job unrelated to pregnancy. That is, an employer can lay off someone who is on FMLA if that person would have been laid off anyway (e.g. for the budget reasons the OP describes).
posted by Pax at 9:23 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

If your employer offers disability coverage, see if you can go out on disability. Your doctor will need to state that you have a medical reason you cannot work, but I am pretty sure your employment will continue (e.g. you will have health coverage). Check your benefit and/or employee handbook to make sure.

Every employer insurance plan I've seen (in the US) treats "loss of job" as a "qualifying event" that allows you to add a spouse/domestic partner outside the normal open enrollment period. You may want to check your partner's benefit information -- if you are not legally married or legally registered domestic partners, there might be some sort of waiting period involved before your partner's company believes you are their partner.
posted by elmay at 9:33 AM on April 15, 2011

My experience of addition of a domestic partner to insurance was very, very fast. It was: fill out the form, a conversation with the insurance company and blammo, off to the doctor. So that's great that you have that option.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:05 AM on April 15, 2011

You can be laid off on FMLA, happened to me, just like Pax describes. I honestly would wait until you're a few weeks postpartum to job-search to see what happens with your current job. Will you be getting any severance?
posted by kpht at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2011

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