A reader writes:
I was laid off in July and am currently job hunting. I am also 10 weeks pregnant right now. I am 37 and this is my first pregnancy after several years of failed fertility treatments. I am thrilled, but I have been keeping the news very quiet until I am safely past the first trimester.
I had a second interview this week for one job, and they have already checked my references, so an offer may be forthcoming shortly. My question is when I should tell a potential new employer. I figure I have a few options:
1) Tell them during the interview process, which is technically still ongoing. I am not in favor of this option, as I think all it would do is put me at a disadvantage. Although it could help weed out family-unfriendly companies, it just feels like an irrelevant piece of personal information at the moment.
2) Tell them after I get an offer. I have been leaning towards this option, as I want to avoid appearing to pull a bait-and-switch on them (especially because I know the hiring manager who would be my supervisor personally; he is the husband of one of my husband’s co-workers and we have hung out socially a few times). I know that legally they are not supposed to take pregnancy into consideration with a job candidate, but it would be hard to prove that they did if they rescinded the offer. This would also give me a chance to find out about/negotiate for a maternity leave policy, since I will not have been at the company long enough for my job to be protected under the Family & Medical Leave Act. Telling them in this timeframe feels like the best compromise to me between being honest and still having some leverage.
3) Tell them a couple of days after I am hired. They’ll be stuck with me at that point. I don’t like this option.
4) Tell them 1 or 2 months after I start, hopefully before I begin to show. I read one advice column advocating this method. The advantage is that by this time you’ve hopefully proven yourself as a reliable employee and could deliver the news matter-of-factly, telling them that you are just now going public with the information and couldn’t be happier. The problems I see here are that: a) They might not have anyone start until after the 1st of the year, which means I’d be waiting until at least February to tell them; b) it still feels a bit like a bait-and-switch; and c) I am afraid the stress of keeping this a secret from them might eat me up inside.
First, congratulations on your pregnancy!
I’d go with option #2 — tell them once you get the offer.
I wouldn’t raise it before you get an offer, because even at many family-friendly places and even despite the law that prohibits discriminating based on pregnancy, plenty of interviewers are still going to think, “We have that big event right when she’ll be out on maternity leave, and candidate B, who is not pregnant, would be able to be there for it.” It’s human nature. Don’t risk that.
But you’re pretty safe raising it once you have the offer, because rescinding it that point would look an awful lot like pregnancy discrimination, which is prohibited by law.