Divulging pregnancy during interviews?
August 24, 2005 6:29 PM   Subscribe

My wife is pregnant (yay!), but is currently between jobs (boooo). However, she currently has several positions she's applying to. At what point in the hiring process should she be divulging the fact that she will have to take maternity leave relatively soon?
posted by crawl to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, and obviously she's not showing all that much yet, so I doubt it would come up on its own.
posted by crawl at 6:34 PM on August 24, 2005

In most industrialized jurisdictions employers require an employee to be vested (i.e. have been employed for at least, say, a year) before they will provide maternity benefits. Exceptions to this are rare. At the same time, labour laws generally forbid dismissal due to pregnancy, though there are ways around this such as redundacy/lay-off.

It is your wife's protected right to withhold the fact that she is pregnant for as long as she wants, but she has to weigh that against being considerate to the employer. So it really depends on what kind of long-term relationship she wants to have with the employer.
posted by randomstriker at 6:38 PM on August 24, 2005

Response by poster: She will be covered under my insurance.

And what you're talking about in your second paragraph is exactly what I'm getting at. When do people feel it would be appropriate to divulge the pregnancy if they were in our shoes?
posted by crawl at 6:43 PM on August 24, 2005

In the last interview is best. After the offer but prior to acceptance if you are absolutely desperate.
posted by caddis at 7:09 PM on August 24, 2005

There is no perfect way to handle this, but here are two possibilities:

Scenario A) your wife has a good feeling about this place and wants to stay there long-term. With most employers there is a probationary period of three to six months after being hired. Your wife could be let go for any abitrary reason during that time, and it's unlikely she'll be able to hide her pregnancy for that long. So she may as well reveal her pregnancy immediately after being hired as an act of good faith, and if she gets dismissed soon after that despite being confident about her own performance , then that's a reliable way to find out that she shouldn't be wasting her time there after all.

Scenario B) the two of you don't care about the long-term, and she just wants to earn some money until she's about to pop. Then she should just wait as long as she can before she reveals the truth, and then assume that she'll have to find a different job later on. Who knows, perhaps the employer might suprise her with its willingness to accommodate.
posted by randomstriker at 7:12 PM on August 24, 2005

As someone who owns a small company, if your wife was interviewing with me, I'd hope she would tell me right off the bat in the first interview. I don't know what sort of work she does, but in my company, since so much of our content creation can be done at home, pregnancy wouldn't bother me, as long as she could get some work in while the baby was sleeping, when dad was doing some parenting, etc.

But I would hope this prospective employee would tell me up front. If I were to hire her and then she surprises me with an announcement that she's going to take time off to have the baby in four months, then I would feel deceived and there wouldn't be a very good relationship in the long term.

But if I were appraised up front, and I thought she was a good fit for the job, the pregnancy wouldn't be considered a detriment to hiring.
posted by pandaharma at 7:37 PM on August 24, 2005

I have to second what pandaharma said. If your wife is planning to have this job long-term, honesty seems to the best policy. I'd feel rather deceived if I hired someone who some weeks later said "oh yeah I'm taking X weeks/months off".

But if it's just short term, well, your call.
posted by xmutex at 8:13 PM on August 24, 2005

I would wait until after she has the job. In most places this would be one of those things that they can't ask about in an interview, and thus one of the things that's none of their business until they hire you. Since it should have no effect on anything that takes place pre-hire, there's no need for them to know about it pre-hire.
posted by duck at 8:23 PM on August 24, 2005

Maybe she should go to a temp agency? That would be the easiest thing.
posted by angry modem at 8:45 PM on August 24, 2005

Following on from duck's advice, at least in EU countries, I think most employers would not want to know, since if they don't, they can't be perceived as having made a decision not to hire the person on that basis. They would be open to being sued if they did made a decision because of it.

(But I'm guessing you're in the US, so that may not apply)
posted by egilmore at 8:47 PM on August 24, 2005

Response by poster: My understanding is that in the US (at least where we live), she cannot be discriminated against for a job because she's pregnant, so that's a good point egilmore.

angry modem, we've thought of that, but she just finished her Masters degree and really wants to find a job in her field -- and hopefully stay there long term.

Thanks to everyone for your opinions... they're all incredibly useful.
posted by crawl at 8:57 PM on August 24, 2005

There's a bunch of different things at play, here:

Some employers don't want to know, because of the legal issues.

Some employers prefer not to hire women of childbearing age altogether. Right or wrong (or legal or illegal), I can certainly understand where they're coming from, particularly with a smaller business.

I would disclose as soon after the hiring as possible while still giving the opportunity to make yourself invaluable first. This gives several advantages. It's hard to fire someone, even with at-will employment laws. It's even harder to fire someone that's working out well. It always helps if you're willing to compromise on working some during that period, but that approach isn't for everyone.

I think most small business owners if faced with the information would not hire a pregnant woman if there were any chance they thought they could get away with it.

N.B. My wife was hired at about a month pregnant, but it was for a telecommuting job. They were surprised at their first meeting in a few months, where she essentially had to reveal the fact. It helped that A) it was a telecommuting job, so it's somewhat easier to work a bit while on leave, and B) she didn't take much time off at all (two weeks!).
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:06 PM on August 24, 2005

Best answer: Some employers prefer not to hire women of childbearing age altogether. Right or wrong (or legal or illegal), I can certainly understand where they're coming from, particularly with a smaller business.

Um, did you mean this the way it sounded? Because not hiring any women between the ages of 16 and 40 sounds like a rather extreme way to avoid the possible inconvenience of a pregnant employee...

crawl, a former co-worker of mine was hired early in her pregnancy. She told them at the second interview. First interview was too early (why bring it up when she wasn't even sure if she would want to work there?) She considered waiting until the hire, but for her, that felt like an awkward start to her professional relationship with her supervisor. Disclosing at the second interview allowed her to treat it like a matter-of-fact health issue instead of a secret that she kind of dreaded telling. Same goes for a friend who knew she'd have major surgery a few months into her employment, by the way.
posted by desuetude at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2005

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