Should I reveal my pregnancy in job interviews?
January 31, 2012 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I am pregnant and looking for a new job. What's the right thing to do in job interviews?

I just found out I am pregnant. I have been applying for jobs, as I am not happy at my current job. Should I be telling potential employers in interviews that I am pregnant? I wasn't even planning to tell friends before 12 weeks, but do I have some responsibility to reveal it in an interview? I don't want to seem deceptive, but on the other hand I feel like it shouldn't matter, at least not enough to factor into their hiring decision (I am in the US where I would get three months maternity leave, tops). And is there some point at which I should stop the job search until the kid is born? How do I handle this? I remember that my dad once hired a woman who was 6 months pregnant... But I suspect that it's rare.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (21 answers total)
Definitely don't even think about telling them before 12 weeks!
posted by mskyle at 9:07 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am not an HR person, I have never been pregnant.

I think that maybe not saying anything quite yet may be okay, because:

a) What if, god forbid, something goes wrong with the pregnancy, and
b) Unless the hiring process takes 3 months, you can have enough plausible deniability to wait until they make an offer to mention that "hey, actually, just yesterday I found out I was pregnant, are you cool with that?"

If what you're worried is that they'd be weird by your having a big medical thing so close to your start date, I wouldn't worry; I broke my foot only 2 weeks after my first day at my new job, and literally one hour after the health insurance kicked in. My boss has been totally fine with that -- things happen that we can't always schedule conveniently.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 AM on January 31, 2012

Thinking about it from the perspective of a prospective employer, I might not want to know. Disclosing that kind of thing would make me instantly worried that you might come back at me for discrimination if I hired someone else. In a weird way, you're protecting them from that charge by keeping it to yourself.
posted by pjaust at 9:09 AM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's absolutely none of their business and you are not obliged to inform anyone in this situation. If they took that fact into consideration, they would be discriminating against you as a woman and breaking the law.
posted by clockzero at 9:10 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't mention it until you have a signed job offer.
posted by jeather at 9:10 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely don't mention it. It's already factored into the lower pay (in general) that you will get as a woman compared to a man. It is illegal to factor it into a hiring decision, but it's also going to be pretty difficult to prove they didn't pick you because you were pregnant, and not for any other number of reasons. So with what I imagine will be a large pool of applicants in this economy, mentioning it previous to a job offer in hand might screw you over, even if it is illegal.
posted by Grither at 9:12 AM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you mention it, they may not hire you, whether legally or not. If you don't mention it, and they do hire you, then in the worst case they may be mad at you when they find out, and in the best case they will be understanding and friendly. In either case their reaction is entirely up to them and beyond your control. Look out for yourself.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:12 AM on January 31, 2012

You absolutely should not tell interviewers that you are pregnant. An initial interview is there to establish mutual interest. Once you're hired and you work your first day, that is when you tell them that you are due on October 1st.

Be advised that if you are in the US, you will not be eligible for FMLA even if it is offered at your workplace, because it requires you to have worked there a year*. They can let you take maternity leave via your sick days and vacation days, and they may be kind enough to offer you unpaid leave, but they are not obligated to and they are not obligated to hold your job for you as with FMLA.

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you for your pregnancy. It's against the law. But it doesn't stop them from coming up with other reasons not to give you the job, and it doesn't abate the anxiety on the employer's part of offering the job to someone else and then getting potentially sued by you for discrimination. Don't cause your interviewer anxiety, you know?

*Specifically, the FMLA defines an eligible employee as "one who meets all three of the following criteria: (1) the employee has worked for the employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutively); (2) the employee has worked for the employer for at least 1,250 hours in the previous consecutive 12-month period; and (3) the employee works at or is assigned to a worksite that has 50 or more employees or which is within 75 miles of worksites that taken together have a total of 50 or more employees."
posted by juniperesque at 9:13 AM on January 31, 2012 [16 favorites]

Do not (DO NOT) tell potential employers that you are pregnant. You are not obliged to reveal it, and it will probably hurt your chances of getting an offer. If you're as early in the pregnancy as it seems (less than 12 weeks), it's absolutely not the business of potential employers.

Keep looking for a new job as though you were not pregnant, just make sure you're aware of the paid leave/short-term disability leave policies at both your current employer & your potential new one (note juniperesque's excellent point about FMLA leave eligibility). Once you have a signed job offer you can consider bringing it up and negotiating your leave, depending on how far along you are by then. Most women I'm acquainted with did not come out to their employers until 3-5 months.

You may be able to take non-FMLA leave (possibly partially paid) available under state law, depending on your location. You may be able to use sick leave and/or other paid leave. Some short-term disability policies cover a certain number of weeks following birth as well. You have some options beyond FMLA, so don't assume it's FMLA or nothing-- you're just going to do your homework and find out what you have available.
posted by Kpele at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2012

You don't have to mention it, but if you end up with a job you like, only to go on leave in 8 months--would you like to be treated this way? I did this, years ago, and my boss never felt quite the same way afterwards, even though I was a completely great producer. Can you stay where you are until you deliver? Can you work as a contract employee or freelancer?
What's legal and what's appropriate aren't always the same.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:26 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Nope, I wouldn't tell them. Legally, they can't discriminate, but if you have someone in an interview that you know will be needing some time off, that could color their perception.
posted by sugarbomb at 10:41 AM on January 31, 2012

Juniperesque's response is very important.

At your current job, you may be entitled to some paid medical leave, either through the benevolence of your employer, or via short-term disability insurance. If you leave, you give that up, along with your ability to invoke the FMLA for your guaranteed unpaid leave. You likely won't have accrued many sick or vacation days at your new job to really spend much quality time with your kid after their birth.

If I were you, I'd stop all job-hunting, grin and bear your current job, and then start up again either late in your pregnancy, or in the second month after giving birth. That time depends on how quickly people in your field are expected to switch to a new job after an offer is made.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 10:44 AM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

Totally agree with Tooty.

You probably have some leave at your current job, so stick it out there and after you've had your maternity leave, quit.
posted by k8t at 10:52 AM on January 31, 2012

I'm with Tooty -- that's the third option to consider. Lots of people use maternity leave to ultimately switch jobs.

I went on some interviews when I was about six months pregnant. I never said anything about it. I mean, it was obvious, but I never said a word and no one asked me about it. I didn't get any of those jobs either but a lot of those interviews were just face-time as various firms were hoping to get work and maybe do some hiring. So, who knows?

You have to look out for yourself and your family. You just never know what's going to happen so just try to cover all your bases. Save as much money as you can now so that you can take some maternity leave and just keep your options open.

If it were me, I'd stick it out, too. Some days in my pregnancy I felt pretty muddled, especially toward the end when I wasn't sleeping very well. I'd hate to be starting a new job like that.
posted by amanda at 11:03 AM on January 31, 2012

My last four jobs I have gotten pregnant the month I started. My leaving on Parental leave (one year in Canada) and then an addition sabatical year (in the case of one job I didn't want to return to) was never held against me. I would not reveal it during interviews as others mentioned, to protect both sides.

I have never heard of an employer willing to give a 100% guarentee that your job will be yours six months down the road so the idea that you should give your employer that guarantee (that you won't be pregnant, sick or leave for another job) seems nuts.

Because of the one year parental leave it is not unexpected to use that time to transition to another job that suits your new needs better. If you can, wait it out at your current job.
posted by saucysault at 11:29 AM on January 31, 2012

Sorry, I'm going to be the asshole here.

Legal issues aside, if I hired you, and then found out on your first day you were pregnant and would need maternity leave soon, it would seriously undercut my trust in you. Depending on our rapport, we might get over it, but we also might not. And that trust is an important thing in a job. Plus, I have known a lot of asshole bosses who would bitch up a storm about it.

I agree with the suggestion to wait it out until after the birth, then resume the job search.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:03 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Legal issues aside, if I hired you, and then found out on your first day you were pregnant and would need maternity leave soon, it would seriously undercut my trust in you.

But would you have hired her if she had told you in the interview?
posted by amro at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Several years ago I was in your situation. I hated my work environment so I started looking for a new job. I found out I was pregnant two days before my interview. I was offered a position with nearly a 20% increase in salary. But I would not have been eligible for FMLA leave and so I opted to stay at my position and take my rightful maternity benefits from my employer. I also submitted my resignation toward the end of my maternity leave and never went back.

In my case, I wasnt looking for work during my official maternity leave, and I ended up home with my daughter for two years until a great job opportunity came along. I was fortunate that this was an option, YMMV.
posted by ellenaim at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2012

I'd stick it out for the health benefits (assuming you have it and are on their plan), and FMLA, and for any maternity rights you earned from your employer.

Also, NYTimes had a slightly relevant article today about pregnancy and jobs.
posted by vivzan at 1:37 PM on January 31, 2012

amro: "But would you have hired her if she had told you in the interview?"

Possibly. But the kind of boss who wouldn't hire her because of it is the same kind of boss who would flip when it was discovered in the first few months of work. Better to know that up front while she still has the current job to fall back on.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:04 AM on February 1, 2012

The mother of my child didn't tell her employer that she was pregnant when she got hired. Once the news of her pregnancy got out, the powers that be created a very hostile enviornment for her that ended with her getting terminated on some trumped up charges (after maternity leave). While this may not happen to you, I thought I should warn you that if you don't notify them some people can be a bit vindictive about this lack of notice regardless of legality.
posted by sacrifix at 11:01 AM on February 1, 2012

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