Should I stay, or should I go?
September 24, 2013 6:50 AM   Subscribe

I just discovered I'm pregnant and due in April. While thrilled, the timing wasn't well planned... I've been looking for a new job opportunity and am starting interviews. Here's where I would love your advice: continue my search for a new position or tread water at my current job for another 1 to 1.5 years?

Why I'm looking for new opportunities:

I work at a large non-profit, and while I've had some great projects in my short time there, the organization has had several re-orgs recently. One re-org left my team without leadership (the senior manager said his goal is to fill the position in 6 months, or less). Cumulatively, the re-orgs make me worry about how I'll achieve my long-term career goals when (1) work that I consider essential to where I want to grow was shifted to another team, (2) despite having more time to do compelling work in other areas where I'd love to grow, I'm finding that without leadership the volume of "core work" my team is doing is slowing down and feels a little directionless, and (3) without clearly defined roles and responsibilities (and leadership!), I'm starting to receive random projects that have nothing to do with my career or the direction where I want to go (it's just work that needs to be done by a human).

I'm very comfortable with re-orgs (my previous job had a few of them), and I like them when the re-structuring is transparent, part of a plan, makes sense, and when the team gets to do more compelling work within their skill areas. What I'm currently experiencing is bad management. (BTW -- my next position will not be at a non-profit.)

My questions:

Clearly, something better is out there (and all of the positions I qualify for in the for-profit sector pay better). But what would you advise a newly pregnant women searching for a new job (because her current job is trending towards a bad fit and feels like it's going backwards)? I realize that if I started somewhere new, I wouldn't be eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act (which I'm eligible for at my current job).

Or should I just shift my remaining interviews to information only, come out in October (when I'll be 3 months and planning to come out to family), let the prospective companies know I'd love to get back in touch after maternity leave, and stay?

(FWIW, the question about disclosing pregnancy during the job interview process is more of a how-to than a what should I do...)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hang out where you are. You can always look again after you give birth. Changing jobs is stressful, the last thing you need right now is stress.

Sometimes there's a value to just hanging out. This is one of those times.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:56 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you talked to the senior manager about filling that empty leadership position?

But if you're determined to move on, do it now. It will not be any easier with a newborn, and a reason will always be a reason to stay somewhere safe. FMLA isn't the only way for a company to deal with an employee giving birth -- if your new company decides they really love you, they may well be willing to hold your position, let you work from home, or let you go in the hole for time off.
posted by Etrigan at 6:59 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

So, uh. . . who's the dad? Is he in the picture? Does he have insurance that will cover both you and baby?

If he's in the picture and has insurance, you can make pretty much whatever decision you like without having to worry about filing for bankruptcy once the twenty-odd-thousand dollar medical bill hits you in about seven months.

If he's not in the picture, or does not have insurance, you're going to have to think very, very carefully about how you're going to keep your coverage in force until after the baby is born.

Unfortunately, this is a particularly awful time to have to think about that, because the entire health insurance market is going to get knocked completely on its ass next week. Like, literally next week. And things aren't likely to have even remotely sorted themselves out until January. By which time you'll be a good five months along.

All of which to say that you probably have enough on your plate right now without adding changing jobs to the mix. If nothing else, if you return to work for 30 days after your maternity leave, you won't have to pay back your health insurance premiums for the period you were on leave.
posted by valkyryn at 7:02 AM on September 24, 2013

I highly, highly recommend staying at the current job solely because of FMLA. Knowing you have *a* job to come back to is huge.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:04 AM on September 24, 2013 [17 favorites]

I don't think you should tread water for 2 years, that's taking comfort to an extreme, but getting through your maternity leave protected by FMLA is worth more than gold. That said, I don't think it would be crazy to start a new gig if you could start in the next month or two (if they were comfortable accomodating your maternity leave outside of FMLA), so you might look for the next month or two and then go on job-search hiatus until after the birth.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:06 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I started a new job when I was 4.5 months pregnant and went back to work after ten days when I ran out of paid time off because I did not qualify for FMLA OR my company's maternity leave policy.

Normally I am ALL about DTMFA when it comes to bad jobs but speaking from experience, staying where you are will give you more one on one time with your new baby and time to recover.
posted by annathea at 7:26 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

I, personally, would stay because of FMLA and also (hopefully) trying to keep the stress to a minimum. Dealing with all the new baby stuff (setting up a nursery, taking birthing classes, etc., etc., etc.) can take up a lot of time and energy you may not have between being pregnant AND trying to learn a new job.

Are there things you can do before baby is born that can help fluff your resume? Taking classes, doing networking, joining organizations, taking on a new project? That way maybe things will be easier when you can get back in the job hunt.

That said, if the perfect job shows up in the next couple months, go for it.
posted by bibbit at 7:40 AM on September 24, 2013

I say this as someone who has been pregnant twice with a very unexpected outcome after one birth and a perfectly normal outcome after the second.

You cannot possibly know what shape you will be in or how long it will take for you to recover from the birth. You also cannot possibly know what may be going on with your baby. While we certainly all hope for the very best, life is not always kind, and some number of babies spend time in the NICU and some mothers need extended hospital stays. Some babies come frighteningly early, and some mothers need to leave work early so the baby doesn't come early.

For me, the risk would have been too great to have gone somewhere new without guaranteed time off and short term disability. FMLA guarantees you the time off --- the short term disability is what guarantees you some of your pay. They are not the same things, but they are taken at the same time when a mother gives birth (because the mother has gone through a "medical event.")

Stay at your current job. Take all the time off you can, and then start looking for a new job again a month after you get back, unless something comes up that really would make the sacrifice worth it (like a 100% pay increase and generous benefits that would also allow you to negotiate some type of time off and borrowed pay from future time off benefits).

Welcome to motherhood! It's full of a lot of rewards! But there are also a lot of sacrifices. This looks like it'll be your first for the benefit of your health and your baby's health.
posted by zizzle at 8:33 AM on September 24, 2013 [13 favorites]

Congratulations! I am in basically the exact same boat as you right now. I am staying at my current job purely for the FMLA/short term disability benefits, trying to learn what new skills I can in the meantime, then planning my exit strategy mid-2014 (hopefully). Doin' it for the kids. (Well, one kid.)
posted by medeine at 6:18 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm based in Australia, but it sounds like the maternity leave laws are somewhat similar - you need to have been at a job for over 12 months to qualify for (unpaid) maternity leave (ie. basically having a job to come back to).

I discovered I was pregnant just after having resigned from a stressful job and having accepted a new non-stressful job. It was great having a less stressful job during pregnancy. It was less great negotiating maternity leave and knowing that no matter what agreement we had come to, I wasn't guaranteed a job when I was ready to return. If your dissatisfaction with your job is more of a "this isn't for me long term, I'm going nowhere" thing, rather than "this job is driving me insane", I think the certainty of being able to take maternity leave is definitely a reason to stay.
posted by fever-trees at 10:05 PM on September 24, 2013

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