YANML but it's layoff season and I'm pregnant.
June 8, 2022 2:23 AM   Subscribe

The company I work for had a mass layoff last week. I was one of the "lucky" ones not to lose my job. Complication? I'm 22 weeks pregnant, due in October, and scared to death to disclose this to my employer for fear that I'll be next if they do another cut. Really would love my full maternity leave. When/how do I tell them?

I know I only have to give a minimum of 30 days notice. Is that enough? I've already been feeling guilt for not addressing it with my manager already since ~the internet~ generally suggests telling management soon after the 2nd trimester. I work remotely so giving it away is not an issue. Any advice?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This will very much depend upon the jurisdiction in which you are employed. Perhaps message a mod to add this detail. In a lot of places, notifying early may be to your advantage as you may have a case for wrongful dismissal.

posted by pompomtom at 3:11 AM on June 8, 2022 [12 favorites]

You owe a company that is doing mass layoffs zero loyalty. Give them only the legally required notice and document everything even remotely related to your pregnancy leave just in case.
posted by srboisvert at 3:21 AM on June 8, 2022 [26 favorites]

Yes, depending on where you are located, disclosing could make your position a much less attractive one to cut because laying off a pregnant person can open the door to a lot of HR headaches in many jurisdictions. I second the call to add a little more information about your location to this Ask, or if you don't want to do that you may want to consult an employment lawyer in your area for advice.

I'm usually on the side of "you only owe your company the bare minimum required by law" but in this case it might very well be advantageous to you to give more than the legally required notice.
posted by superfluousm at 5:35 AM on June 8, 2022 [9 favorites]

Oh, gosh. If you are in the US or another country with reasonably well-enforced pregnancy-discrimination laws, I would say you are approaching this completely backwards!

Assuming you're in such a country and work for a large enough company that there's some kind of Legal/HR department, I would get the fact that you're pregnant on the record as soon as possible.

Most companies want to avoid even the appearance of pregnancy-related discrimination and would move a pregnant person to the very end of the list of people for a lay-off, right next to someone with an open whistleblower complaint and the CEO's nephew.

If you did get laid off, it would be pretty trivial to make a claim that it was because you disclosed your pregnancy. Lawyers (at least in the US) would be clamoring to take the case.

Basically, in this scenario, disclosing your pregnancy isn't going to get you laid off; it's going to protect you from being laid off!
posted by whitewall at 6:11 AM on June 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

As a currently pregnant person, I disagree that it's to your advantage to disclose early given your circumstances. If they're doing massive layoffs, and you're just one of the numbers, there's no case - I've seen this time and again in my pregnancy group, and I've yet to hear of someone claiming pregnancy discrimination. Because your job is only protected by law if the layoff would not otherwise occur - there's no way to prove or in many cases even claim it was due to pregnancy (unless they're dumb enough to put something about your pregnancy being a factor in writing).

I would just try to fly under the radar, do your job well, hope they're done with layoffs, and give them the minimum notice possible (*if you're getting a scheduled induction or C-section, make sure you hit the 30 days). Then even if they are doing layoffs and throw you into the pool for pregnancy, you'll be closer to maternity leave and have unemployment to help out while you have the newborn.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:30 AM on June 8, 2022 [13 favorites]

It might be relevant how long you have worked for them.
posted by dum spiro spero at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2022

Lawyers (at least in the US) would be clamoring to take the case
This is not the case at all. Massive layoffs provide exactly the kind of cover needed to get rid of people for discriminatory reasons without having to say that reason out loud.
posted by soelo at 8:19 AM on June 8, 2022 [8 favorites]

At 22 weeks along, they might be wise to you even if you're remote and don't think so. (Pregnancy glow is real, and visible.) Pure conjecture on my part, IANAL, etc - but I'd think it would be to your advantage to formally disclose so if they have guessed already, they can't pretend they had no idea you were pregnant when they do lay you off.
posted by catesbie at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2022

the internet~ generally suggests telling management soon after the 2nd trimester.

Yeah, because if you were still IRL every day it'd be obvious at that point and you'd have to disclose. If you're on Zoom every day and never in the office, this may not be an issue.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:19 AM on June 8, 2022

+1 for say nothing until you absolutely have to. I’ve watched several people go through situations where employers did blatantly illegal, discriminatory stuff around health issues. I’ve become very cynical about employers (whether they’re multi-national household names or smaller organizations) being at all concerned about legal challenges to their discrimination. Maybe I happen to know several of the unluckiest working adults in the US, but my general assumption is that you’re unlikely to get a positive outcome trying to hold a company accountable for health-related discrimination, even if you can prove “I disclosed my health condition and was laid off/demoted/fired immediately,” and companies aren’t particularly afraid to engage in this type of discrimination.
posted by theotherdurassister at 9:28 AM on June 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

Why on earth would you say anything before you have to? Why disclose your health status? Why quit (your "30 days notice" comment) unless you have something much better lined up? If you voluntarily leave your job, you will forfeit any sort of severance package from layoffs, any sort of unemployment, and you'll lose your FMLA protection and employer-provided insurance. How would it benefit you to leave?

If you you get laid off before you intended to take maternity leave, then you're in an excellent position to negotiate a better severance package than the one they'd likely provide you. There is absolutely no reason to disclose your pregnancy before you request leave, or to request leave before your employer legally requires it. YOU DO NOT OWE YOUR EMPLOYER ANYTHING.

If you aren't laid off before you request leave, then you're entitled to the entirety of the maternity leave and/or FMLA leave that your company/state allows with zero complications.

If you're laid off while on company-provided and/or FMLA leave, then you're still entitled to any severance package your company is offering.

My husband was on paternity leave when his company went through layoffs. He was given a very generous severance package to just not bother coming back from company+state allowed leave. Your mileage may vary.
posted by erst at 1:38 PM on June 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
I am in UT and the company is based out of OR. I have worked in for the company a little over a year and a half. I work in engineering so I'm definitely not concerned about my colleagues casually suspecting. Appreciate all the responses - right now I'm leaning more towards not disclosing until closer to 30 days.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:16 PM on June 8, 2022

Why quit (your "30 days notice" comment) unless you have something much better lined up?
I think OP means they need to give 30 days notice of taking maternity leave, not before quitting.

"Employees must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable." from the State of Utah's website about FMLA.
posted by soelo at 5:35 PM on June 8, 2022

« Older Confused millennial tries to figure out snail mail   |   Would you take a survey about MetaFilter? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.