job-hunting while pregnant

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supposed to take pregnancy into consideration with a job candidate, but it would be hard to prove that they did if they rescinded the offer.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.

Good luck!

{ 62 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Yes, yes, yes. You negotiate AFTER the offer, but BEFORE the acceptance. It gives you a little bit of leverage, without looking like you’re pulling a bait and switch. You’re being upfront and honest, so they might be more willing to work something out for your time off work. Congratulations and best of luck!

  2. class factotum*

    Good luck on getting a job, but I think you should tell them before they make the decision to make an offer.

    Yes. It is reasonable for an employer to consider whether or not you will be working seven months hence. If they hire you, they are going to at the least have to find someone to do your work while you are out with the baby. (You’re not planning to go back to work the day after you deliver, are you?)

    And then there is the possibility that you might decide you don’t want to work any more once you have the baby, in which case they have to find someone to replace you.

    I would never hire someone I knew was pregnant, legal or not. I want someone who is going to show up to work. I don’t want to have to go through the whole hiring process again in a few months or even find a temp. Having a baby is going to take someone out of the office either temporarily or permanently. Why bother?

    1. Anonymous*

      class factotum,
      According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, what you imply is illegal. Also, mothers show up for work.

      Please take some time to pay attention to individuals and stop discriminating. Your employees will appreciate this.

      1. anonymous*

        I find that funny. I feel discriminated because I don’t have children. I have had interviewers tell me they like single mothers because they won’t quit. When I don’t get the job, I find out who they hired anyway I can. They have always been single mothers!!! Is there a law to protect me?

        I agree with class factotum. Why hire a person who will be out in a few months? Why hire a woman whose child is going to interfere with a job over someone who has no other obligation than to do her job?

        I did not feel this way until recently. Being childless seems to make getting a job harder. Maybe people feel sorry for single mothers? Nobody makes you have a kid.

        1. 28 Weeks Proud*

          Aren’t you something? Though I have held your view which I see now as quite narrow.

          I used to think my job was everything & life was to just be enjoyed for a few hours on a weekend or week night at a happy hour with coworkers or for a quick dinner with family. I traveled extensively and secretly disliked those mothers that could leave work simply because their child was sick.

          I don’t know if you act like I did – but your view certainly sounds like what I had three years ago. You need to re-evaluate that view. I don’t know if you have plans to ever start a family, but let me tell you it beats the lifestyle I led for years of being only career driven. And by start a family I don’t generally just mean having kids. I mean having a life OUTSIDE of work where you are making an impact of your chosing.

          A lot of working moms I know want the career & the family. Some moms or dads I know prefer to stay home and raise their children.

          It’s not necessarily wrong either way. Not one of us is the same – different lifestyles work for us.

          I am the career and family minded individual. I am currently interviewing for an opportunity at my first employer after I had left to work a couple of other places to get more experience and see what else was out there. I left the company on good terms and ultimately, I would love to go back and finish what I started for eight years. I would stay there for the rest of my career.

          Now I am also in my first pregnancy and 28 weeks along. It took me about six weeks before I decided to start looking. My husband is all for me trying to make a move now though this could complicate a leave of absence and insurance. I was forthcoming with my old director that I was expecting who helped me get to the top of the interview list for one of the openings.

          I do not know if the team I am interviewing with is aware of this and I am doing research to see when it might be the best time to approach this subject. I want to come back to this employer on good terms – not having them feel like I pulled something. I want them to want me despite the maternity leave issue. Trust is important to me.

          And to all of you singles out there – I know that we work hard, but also recognize that the majority of working moms and dads out there work hard, too. Quite honestly, I prefer working with those that are moms or dads out there more than someone that has no obligations such as children outside of the work place. I find parents understand the word commitment and bring that to work and to raising thier children.

          Again this is not everyone – there are bad parent workers out there and bad non parent workers out there. Fact of life. This is just what I prefer in my own situation based on experience.

      2. SSS*

        “mothers show up for work” – really, all mothers? Give me a break. In my experience, mothers tend to use “motherhood” as an excuse to get out of every little thing, and they make their co-workers pick up their slack.

        I feel bad for this employer if they hire this cow. As soon as the she has the kid every request for overtime or hard work will be met with -“But I have a BAYBEE!” The woman sounds like she got knocked up and wants to screw over her potential employers. IMO entitled mommies should stay home with their precious widdle crotch droppings, and leave work to professionals.

        1. 28 Weeks Proud*

          Another view I see as narrow minded – however, maybe this has been your experience. Quite frankly, you need to re-evaluate yourself.

          In my experience, most working moms/dads overall that I have worked with work just as hard or harder than those coworkers I had that did not have children. They were more reliable. I could be traveling for a week and give my accounts to another coworker who happened to be a working mom and I never came back to an issue that came in during the day that wasn’t handled by the time she left for the day.

          Now several other people I knew didn’t have that commitment. If I want to continue on with the slanted view, I will label them as well as not having family because they didn’t. They would think nothing of leaving at 3:30 after getting in at 8:30 because “they had things to do”. My accounts would hiss with hatred if I ever put one of those names on my out of office again.

          Now I also had someone that had a family that fit that above description. I have also had those that did not have a family that fit my description of the ultimate coworker.

          Don’t you see it doesn’t matter? People aren’t lazy because they do or do have a family. Its because they chose to be. And a single person can come up with just as many excuses as a family person to get out of work.

          Give me a break.

        2. Fed Up*

          HA! Wow…

          That truly is sickening that you can, with no hesitation, call a pregnant woman a cow… You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.

          Every human being on this earth has come in the same way; through a PREGNANT WOMAN. You are in no way excluded from this..
          Just because a woman is pregnant does not mean that she is going to just “dump the load” on the next employee. I’ve worked with many pregnant people and am pregnant myself and while I don’t particularly enjoy my job anymore, I still put forth effort to get the job done. Am I saying there aren’t any pregnant women or mothers that will take advantage? No, but it is very much unfair to discriminate against everyone in a group because of the actions of others.

          And also, what makes you believe that pregnant women and mothers shouldn’t work? Wouldn’t it be worse if people just kept getting pregnant and bringing children into the world with no plans of doing what they can to provide for them? Pregnant women and mothers need jobs so that they can give their children a good life and, in my opinion, keep them from growing up throwing out derogatory comments like those expelled by people such as yourself.

        3. ThWritingSpider*

          Wow. If I could bottle the anger in your comment I could power a few third world countries… So Marissa Mayer, stay home with your kids! Meg Whitman, you are useless to us! Only MEN and BARREN WOMEN are allowed to work in SSS’s world! Does SSS stand for So Sodding Stupid? Such Sucky Spewings?

        4. Steve*

          Yep, that’s the ‘Murica viewpoint of child-bearing. We want to “nurture children,” but if you plan on having any, you’re on your own.
          Good god, your nasty attitude is reprehensible. My wife is pregnant and just got fired from a job and is now worried we won’t have enough income to sustain ourselves, and imagining someone referring to her as a pregnant cow makes me want to break someone’s shin bones.
          Not all parents behave in this way. A good mother shouldn’t use her child as an excuse for anything. If you work with someone like that, I understand- I would be livid and probably think the same things you do. But to view any expecting mother that way is indefensibly imbecilic. You putz.

  3. class factotum*

    Manager, it drives me crazy that it’s illegal! But even if it’s illegal for the employer to consider it, I think it’s unethical for someone to take a job knowing she is going to for sure be out in 7 months and maybe quitting after them. It’s the same as knowing your spouse has a job transfer coming up in a few months and you’ll be quitting. You shouldn’t waste someone’s time like that (unless, of course, he agrees to have it wasted.)

    For the record, I stopped my job search once I was accepted in the Peace Corps. I had nine months before I was supposed to leave and I told that to the company where I had interviewed twice. If they still wanted to hire me with that information, fine, but I didn’t want to get a job under false pretenses. (Are there any other kind of pretenses?)

    1. KellyK*

      I know that this is an old thread, but it popped up in the comments and I wanted to add something here. Before the first trimester, the woman does not “know for sure” that she will be out for weeks. According to the March of Dimes, about half of all pregnancies end in miscarriages. Once someone knows they’re pregnant, the overall risk is only about 15%, but someone who’s struggled with infertility and had failed fertility treatments may well have a higher risk than that average.

      Generally, my rule of thumb for disclosing possibilities that might affect an employer if they actually end up happening is 50/50. That is, if it’s more likely to happen than not, you should let them know if you can. If you’re not sure that there’s at least a 50/50 chance of the thing happening, you’re not necessarily obligated to tell them, because *anyone* might end up pregnant, or moving, or any number of things, and treating it like a certainty when it’s not puts you at an unfair disadvantage.

  4. Anonymous*

    Wow, interesting to see so much prejudice here among some of the commenters against pregnancy in the workplace. No wonder we are not seen as a very family-friendly country.

    I wrote the original question to this blog, and I received my job offer before seeing the response. I consulted with several friends and former colleagues, including some who are hiring managers and some who have kids (some fit both descriptions). The overwhelming advice I got was to wait to break the news until after I have begun work at the new job.

    If I told them during the interview or offer process, they could not legally discriminate against me, but I'd still be entering the job as somewhat "damaged goods." This way I'll have a chance to establish myself as a known, reliable worker and still give them about 6 months notice about the birth of my baby.

    Pregnancy is a fact of life and business and is something that companies do have to deal with, even when it is inconvenient. But the fact is that I need a job now and will need to work after the baby comes. It's hard to predict the future, but I feel that this will all work out for the best.

    -Knocked Up & Unemployed

  5. class factotum*

    I’m not prejudiced against pregnancy in the workplace; I’m prejudiced against an employer not having all the information before making a hiring decision.

    Suppose you’re the manager. You have the budget to hire someone to replace the person who quit. You have to pay the recruiting expenses — ads and the time for someone to screen, interview and check on applicants. You go through all of this and hire someone who is not going to be working for a couple of weeks (at least) in a few months? Then you have to find a temp or even possibly a replacement when the new mom decides not to return to work. All that training and those recruiting expenses, down the drain.

    Just because you go on leave doesn’t mean your work goes away. I worked in a small office in Chile. Two of the six women were out on maternity leave at the same time. We had to pay them for the full time they were out (three months), so couldn’t afford to hire a temp. Even though they were gone, their work did not go away, so the rest of us had to take up the slack.

    Granted, they were hired before they got pregnant, but this is what happens: someone else gets stuck doing your work and the employer has to deal with an absent and maybe quitting employee.

    So. I don’t care if someone wants to hire you while you are pregnant. I just think you need to disclose your pregnancy before they make an offer.

    1. sarasen*

      It seems you are saying that one should not hire women at all, because they have the “chance” to get pregnant. Yes, they will get pregnant and someone will have to take the slack for their work – so to avoid this, why even hire women, because it’s always a risk.
      It’s really pathetic – this country.

      1. anonymous*

        I am a woman who never had kids. It sucks working with women with kids. They think they are special. They think I should just want to pick up their slack when they are out. Being pregnant is a choice. If you can be out more than me because of your children, then I should get paid more for covering for you. The employer hires you, not your child. I try to stay in one girl offices so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

    2. 28 Weeks Proud*

      Its a valid argument you’ve made.

      I am interviewing for another job for a previous employer I would love to go back to. I have been forthright with my previous director that helped me get into the interview pool, however, I am interviewing within a different department.

      If I do get to the final interview phase, I would prefer to disclose it then. Quite frankly, I don’t want to return with the employer feeling I pulled the wool over their eyes. If I am the person that they want, I want to get it on that merit with my pregnancy known before an offer is made.

      Being up front will help me look trust worthy and let them know that I have a plan to not miss much work. If now isn’t the time, then fine. I can wait until after my leave.

      My current job is pretty tough being I have a supervisor that doesn’t understand pregnancy. Let me tell you it can cause havoc on your body and how you can function some days. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home, however, my boss will make comments about how she wishes I would tell her when I will be feeling “normal” again. Um, I don’t know. My body is under “invasion” so to speak. She has done other things that border along discrimination.

      I was working 80 hour work weeks while she went out unexpectedly on leave in December and returned mid February. I picked up her work & mine while pregnant in the first trimester. No small feat. But its my nature to not let work fall to the way side.

      Try to give more credit to all workers – pregnant or not. Look at my example where the non married childless boss left me for all those weeks in a lurch working crazy hours. I don’t blame her, but I despise her attitude towards my pregnancy as if I should know how to control my body. I picked up her work because it is what we do when someone leaves the office unexpectedly.

      And I did it well – pregnant and all.

  6. Anonymous*

    Class Factorum,

    Shame on you. I loathe parents who don’t pull their weight in the office because of recitals and such, but shame on you for your ignorance.

    I’m guessing you’re in California by the full-time pay period of those out on parental leave, but let me point out a couple things:

    This candidate will not be eligible for FMLA. Simply won’t. She may not even be eligible for a company leave policy after only being there for 6 months. But it’s the risk you take. Who’s to say my mother doesn’t fall ill in six months and I have to take care of her? Who’s to say I won’t fall ill myself? Who’s to say that I won’t (gasp) take a vacation? And recruitment really isn’t THAT huge of a cost. And if it is, it’s usually budgetted at the beginning of the fiscal year.

    I am bothered by the fact that this candidate chose to lie (withholding a vital piece of information is lying and if I were the person who onboarded her, I would make it clear to her that I would have appreciated knowing earlier) and accept the position, because she owes it to her employers to give them as much time as possible to prepare for her leave. But honestly? To outright discriminate? It’s ignorant (and illegal).

    1. sarasen*

      first of all, you should not be TELLING ANYONE at work you are pregnant before the 3 month mark – there are lots of miscarriages that happen, and there’s no point in telling unless your job proves to be riskful to the baby.

        1. KellyK*

          It’s not a question of shame. But it is a very personal thing, and for some people very private.

          Employers feel like they’re owed information about the pregnancy, but before the 3-month mark, there’s something like a 50% chance that you won’t actually be having a baby and taking maternity leave. Personally (and I say this as someone who’s at higher risk for miscarriage than average due to various medical things), I would *never* tell an employer before the eight-week check-up unless there was already medical stuff going on that might affect work. Assuming things were normal, unless it looked like maternity leave would be at a problematic time and I wanted to give more notice to allow for planning, I would probably wait until the end of the first trimester.

          I think that people, in general, get to tell whoever they want to tell whenever they want, but the risk of miscarriage is a thing to consider when you make that decision. Because every person you tell about your pregnancy, if you miscarry, that’s one more person you’ll probably end up sharing that news with. And happy news is easier and more pleasant to share than sad news. Particularly at work, when you have to try to function as normal while going through grief.

  7. LegalSecretary*

    "It's the same as knowing your spouse has a job transfer coming up in a few months and you'll be quitting".

    My husband is in the Army. He is ALWAYS going to get a job transfer. Period. That's the way the Army works. Are you suggesting that I should never be hired because my spouse will ALWAYS have a job transfer coming up? THANK GOODNESS over the years I have found employers in six different states who didn't think that way, and instead hired me based on my resume, skills & references, and in return I worked hard, was a dedicated employee and gave them 100% during my short time working for them. In return, instead of feeling they "wasted their time" with me, they have continued to give me great references when I'm trying to find a job in the next state. Thank goodness my husband is out there defending your right to say/post whatever you want and thank goodness I have found wonderful employers over the years who were not short-sighted when it came to hiring me.

    1. Anonymous*

      I couldn’t agree with you more!!! Tell your husband I said thank you for defending our country. Hats off to him!

  8. class factotum*

    Oh for crying out loud. Anon, re-read my comments. I didn’t say employers shouldn’t hire someone who’s pregnant, I said the pregnant applicant needs to disclose that information. I also think an employer SHOULD be allowed to let that information affect the hiring decision. Yes, I know it’s illegal. Yes, I disagree with that law.

    Legal secretary, my dad fought for the right for me to say these things and is dead as a result of his time in the military, so I have earned my stripes on this. Did I say to lie about your husband being in the army? No. I just think it is relevant information that should be disclosed. I am assuming that you explain your situation and they hire you anyhow, which is FINE. It’s the lack of disclosure that bothers me.

  9. Anonymous*

    I’m in the same situtation now, except I’m 4 months pregnant, just starting to show, and looking for a job that I will desperately need.
    In my experience of applying for jobs, prior to being pregnant, I have had several employers ask if I knew of any upcoming time that I would not be able to work. Even if they are not meaning to in-directly ask if you are pregnant, it puts you in the position of either having to lie to them or risk not getting the position just because your pregnant, which I know is illegal but of course, like many have you have said, I’m sure they can come up with another “legal” reason for not hiring you.
    I think I would wait until the job is offered to disclose the pregnancy, to avoid prejudice and allow them to really look at my skills, not just my pregnancy.

  10. Anonymous*

    How would a pregnant women make money to support herself and family if every job discriminated against her? She needs more now than she did before she was pregnant because she has a live being to care for. She is trying to make an honest living and no one should take that from her for any reason. She wants to work, not be at home collecting. Give her props for that and dont be unprofessional as to say you would not want to hire again, THAT is discrimination.

    1. SSS*

      “She needs more now than she did before she was pregnant because she has a live being to care for…give her props for that.”

      Are you serious? Um, ever heard of birth control? It is not an employers job to support someones irresponsible behavior. And last I checked being pregnant just means that you had unprotected sex…not exactly a hardship case. If you can’t support kids, quit getting pregnant. Simple.

      1. Wow!*

        I’m willing to bet that you’re single, and for good reason! Heaven forbid you ever produce “crotch droplings” and spread your joyous personality to another human being. Some people want to have children and be successful in a career as well. The original post was asking which of the three scenarios was the most professional and suggested that she felt guilty not disclosing her pregnancy. Maybe you’re stuck picking up the pieces of the mothers you work with because they need a break from your terrible attitude! I can’t imagine a single day in the office with someone as hateful as you’ve portrayed yourself. Please, never reproduce.

      2. Anon1*

        What an ugly worldview you have. Since when was it “irresponsible” to create a family? And to manage life so that one can provide an income for their home? Doubtless your blind hatred of family life, which comes to most humans, has crippled any ability to work alongside other people. Take a deep breath and realize that society doesn’t have an obligation to remain barren to satisfy your requirements for a childless culture and workplace.

      3. Fed Up*

        And have you ever heard of birth control failure? I am the prime example of taking the necessary measures to prevent pregnancy and, guess what, am 20 weeks pregnant! Condom and/or birth control and people still can get pregnant so please do “check” further. Sometimes, no matter how much you try to avoid something from happening, it does. Please never have children.

  11. Anonymous*

    Our firm just hired a woman who is 8 months pregnant. It's winter and she managed to conceal the fact under heavy clothing and never brought up that she was pregnant – let alone, 8 months pregnant until she'd been hired as a full time worker. Then, ta-dah! shows up on her fist day with full belly in tow. We are short on staff and stressed and over-worked as it is; tempers were short and nerves frayed already and now this. As it happens her due date even coincides with a co-workers long awaited and carefully planned vacation. To top it, she seems to be under the impression that she should be doing less work than anyone else due to her "condition". It sucks but there's not much anyone can do about it and now we are expected to shoulder the additional burden when she takes her leave just one month after having been hired. It's not so much the fact that she is pregnant, but that she was grossly deceptive that bothers every one the most, and the fact that she has now forced every one into such an awkward and further stressed situation. Of course, deception always follows deception. Because she hasn't proven to be at all what she claims to be, we are begrudgingly bearing the brunt of the extra work this is creating, besides.

    1. anonymous*

      I hope they find a legal reason to not bring her back. I am sorry but many pregnant women abuse the system.

  12. Anonymous*

    I am 13wks pregnant and have worked at the company I currently work for for almost 4 years. I have had a baby and came back to this job and being pregnant or having a child did not effect my performance. I have been unhappy at my job for some time and have been applying to other jobs. It is not a LIE not to tell an employer your pregnant and you should feel no guilt for not telling them. I will not tell anyone at an interview that I am currently pregnant and that is my right. Besides that I have not even told most of my family or friends so why should my employer be considered before my own family! At the end of the day I know I'm an outstanding employee for any company to have. Managers will discriminate against you if they know you are pregnant and I understand this…to a point. Life is full of what if's and managers must work around those what if's, it is their JOB. Be a pregnant woman, a diagnosis of cancer, sudden illness or simply someone who really doesn't feel like being a good employee.

  13. An employee who wouldn't lie*

    It’s interesting to see the “logic” for it being justified to hide your pregnancy and the supposedly equivalent situations. Being 6 months pregnant means you WILL be out when you give birth, “maybe” getting cancer and needing time off, while possible is highly unlikely so don’t even compare the two. Everyone who is rabidly advocating hiding the fact until after being on the job doesn’t consider the employers needs, not a great quality for an employee. If you want an employer to be honest and considerate of you, you better be willing to do the same yourself. Whether when I’m hiring, or if I were a fellow employee, I would be PISSED if I found out someone withheld information. For those of you who automatically say it is prejudice to not hire a pregnant woman, what about the the need to find someone who can do the job? What if your child was in an accident, you called an ambulance and the paramedic who showed up was 8 months pregnant and while she could drive the ambulance and provide care in some situations, was unable to do what your child needed, and your child died because the next ambulance didn’t get there in time? Yes, that is an extreme example but pregnancy DOES affect what you can and can’t do, and an employer should have the right to decide if the job they are hiring for can be accomplished by someone who will be out for a significant amount of time or unable to perform specific tasks. I’m a woman, and I support women who have children being able to be working productive members of society. But women who lie, who expect to be paid for doing less than their colleagues, or feel entitled to abuse the system are the ones who ruin it for the rest of us.

  14. Biology*

    I just found out three days ago I’m four weeks pregnant. I got a last interview and job offer yesterday, and I took it without mentioning my pregnancy. In nursing, they keep wondering why there are no 27-40 years old nurses working. Most are either much younger or close to retirement. There are initiatives in place to recruit these people, as if no one knows what the women in this age group are doing. The reason is, even in a field of mostly women, the work place can be hostile to something (pregnancy) that occurs so naturally. I didn’t tell the doctor interviewing me I’m pregnant. What if I miscarry? I haven’t even told my parents, yet. I’m simply not comfortable disclosing such an early pregnancy. I think pregnancy at work is simply part of women being in the work force.

  15. Anonymous*

    Being pregnant is not a disability! That is what some of you make it seem like. Yes, a woman will have to leave for a period of time to give birth and care for her child but it is not a guarantee that she will not return to work. I am 5 months pregnant and currently looking for employment. I have been upfront and honest with all the potential employers I have had, but guess what? I have not received a job. I desperately need employment for obvious reasons plus my husband is in the military. Being pregnant will not hinder my abilities in any way. You cannot base your decision to not hire a woman just because she is pregnant, it is illegal to start with and just not logical. You have no idea that tomorrow one of your not pregnant employees will decide to just up and quit. Pregnant women are not wrong for wanting to work while they are pregnant. If you can then you should, but we should not be punished for being pregnant!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This issue isn’t that people think pregnant woman can’t work; the issue is that some employers are concerned about how much time will be taken off around the birth of the baby. The law prohibits discriminating on that basis, but employers do think about how that’ll impact them.

    2. Anonymous*

      Agreed!!! This conversation is just nuts. I wouldn’t want to work for someone who didn’t support me, anyway. Maybe it’d be best to tell them with this in mind.

  16. Isis*

    This is interesting reading all of the different point of views. I have a friend who’s husband just passed away about 2 months ago. If that isn’t enough to make you reevaluate life then she found out she was pregnant right before he died . I understand both sides. Every single job interview she has been on, she has been forthcoming and truthful about her pregnancy and each time she has received sorry this position was filled. Now under normal circumstances my thoughts would be maybe she wasn’t qualified to do the job. It just doesn’t make any sense however, over 15 interviews and not 1 job offer. She has 17 years experience in her field. Too much information too soon in my opinion. My advice is at the initial interview do not disclose your pregnant, if however you are offered the job then it is wise to tell them that you are pregnant and how far along. Do not wait until you have already started working on the job and casually say “oh by the way I’m pregnant”. You will look dishonest and it just isn’t right. It seems now employers are asking women if you are pregnant without actually using those words. Do not disclose that information until you have received a formal offer, and it will be hard for an employer to withdraw there offer at this time for fear of discrimination law suit. Of course that’s not the goal but you see my point. It is sad though that people slack off because they have children. News Flash you are not the only person in the world who has children. It is unfair that some women still do this, it’s ridiculous. I’ve heard some crazy stories as to why someone is going to be 30 minutes late everyday for work because of there kids lol. I’m afraid one bad apple spoiled the bunch. My friend still hasn’t found work, so I help her out when I can and keep encouraging.

  17. Anonymous*

    I cannot believe all the discriminatory comments regarding pregnancy! Unbelieveable! It is a woman’s right to apply for, and actually accept a postion regardless if she is pregnant. It is not a disability- and even if it was, employers cannot discriminate on that basis. Pathetic comments….

  18. gina*

    With comments like these, it’s a wonder people are willing to hire women at all in their childbearing years! I was laid off earlier this month just before my 4 month mark, and opinions like these are exactly why I’m keeping mum about my pregnancy until I recieve an offer. Having a child in no way hinders my ability to work, my capability, my professional capacity, or my qualifications — all the things any employer should be looking for. It is telling that no one wants to not hire men because they might get married and have to take time off for a wedding and honeymoon or might impregnate a woman and actually want to take time off to raise his child.

  19. Anonymous*

    I understand getting fired, then immediately looking for a job to remain consistent. And pregnancy is uncontrollable, at times. Birth control is nice because then you can wait to get pregnant until after you’ve carried a job for a while – instead of getting pregnant when you don’t have a job to support a child.
    But life happens – things are never ideal, for anyone, ever.

    The key here is being ethical, responsible, and mutually respective.

    I understand the different viewpoints in why a pregnant woman wouldn’t want to disclose that information. But the situation you leave your new company with, isn’t ideal for your teammates, or your supervisors. It’s wrong, unethical and selfish. I wouldn’t want someone like that on my team.

    As a family oriented company, we are open to pregnant employees, but a new hire? The reason we hired them is because we really needed them. Maybe there is a rule-of-thumb?? Like a 90day rule? After that, the company and new-hire have gotten enough work caught-up. If you are expected to deliver before 90days, it is truly unethical.

    Just a thought…

    1. ashley*

      Actually, the law states that you are not required to inform your potential employer if you are pregnant.

      How is a pregnant woman any more of a liability than someone who has diabetes, seizures or any other medical condition that may flare up unexpectedly? At least a pregnancy allows you to make arrangements for your time off.

      And implying that mothers aren’t as reliable workers as nonparents is stupid too. Tons of adults miss work because they party too much or are just plain lazy. At least a parent has an additional reason that they need to maintain employment (to take care of their kid)

      by the way, class factotum is an ass who clearly stated that he would not hire someone who is pregnant.

  20. Foodie*

    It is very interesting topic, interesting views from employee and employer. I am just wondering if you could please advise on a slightly different case when the women is pregnant right after a few weeks working for a new company. I have been made redundant from the previous company last month and I am about to receive an offer from a new company. I am not yet pregnant but I really want to have a baby now, I cannot wait to work for the new company for 1-2 years then get pregnant because I am a bit old now. Do you think I should work for at least a year before thinking about pregnancy or I should just let it happen naturally? Appreciate your thought.

      1. Foodie*

        Thanks a lot for your advice!! Btw, I love you blog very much, it is in my favourite link now :). Thanks.

  21. Foodie*

    Hi Alison,

    I have started the new company for about 2 weeks. They are very good people and the job is great. They are a good company. A part from pregnancy advice, I would like to ask for your advice on my visa situation.

    I am still under international student visa (special so I am allowed to work full time) and I have to seek for company sponsorship to stay in the country in the next 13 months. Otherwise, my husband has to find a sponsorship somewhere. Hope that makes sense. As you know, I am planning to have a baby and as your advice, I am still trying and hope to be pregnant soon. At the same time, I also need to seek for the company’s sponsorship.

    My questions are:
    – Should I ask for company’s sponsorship after passing 3 months probation?
    – If the company says yes, they would do all the paper work for me (I will pay everything myself, I only need them in terms of paperwork), and I would get permanent resident shortly after that. What happens if around that time I am pregnant? Will they be mad at me?? Would it damage my reputation and upset them…?
    – If they say no, obviously I will need to rely on my husband to find the way to stay in this country. The problem is, they will find out I might not be able to stay here for more than a year, do you think they will fail me/ sack me or make me redundant. Redundancy is nightmare for me and really I don’t want to go through that over again.

    I know this message is very personal matter but I adore so much your blog/ comments so I really hope to have your advice…

    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This really depends on what your particular employer and manager are like and what your relationship with them is like. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  22. Another Perspective*

    What I find disturbing about this entire debate is that it focuses on discriminating against pregnant women. I think that we should focus on providing a way to support both businesses and pregnant women (as well as those new moms with newborns). Work does need to go on while a new mom is out of the office. Why not begin to build a temporary workforce designed to support this fact? Perhaps a temporary employee can be brought on board to be trained by the mom-to-be before the mom leaves to have her baby. When the mom returns, the temporary can be retained for a week or two in order to support a transition. Instead, we have an environment where too many employers refuse to hire pregnant women. I also find it unfair that other employees have to handle the new mom’s work while she is out. While the other employees may not have new babies, they have lives outside of the workplace that should be respected and protected, also. Our society should attempt to be fair to all – and possibly create opportunities for temporary employees in the meantime.

    I know that this recommendation would take time and money to implement. I see it as a cost of doing business in a caring, compassionate manner. I understand that companies are in business to make money. However, they should also remember that they are hiring people.

  23. Pregnant and Looking for Work*

    I’m in a similar difficult position, I’m 22 weeks pregnant and starting to show more and more. I have been really struggling with the decision to disclose this information. When I got pregnant, my husband and I were in a drastically different financial position. Now, we are struggling financially and I am at the end of a 1 year contract job. My current employer has stated that he wants to hire everyone but he is waiting to find out if we get enough contracts for the next year. So now I am in the difficult position of deciding when and how to disclose the information. I am also searching for a job, since there have not been any guarantees about my future employment. Here’s the thing for me too – my husband is a freelancer and so he has a very flexible job and he is going to be in charge of childcare, especially since I also make more money than he does. Sure, it’d be great to take a long time off if I could, but it’s not feasible, so aside from the recovery from labor, it really won’t and, financially, can’t take me away from work for very long. So… you tell me? What’s a girl to do? How can I be anything but “selfish” in this position, when the livelihood of my whole family is at stake??

  24. Pay your Way*

    I think it is unfortunate that people would rather have pregnant women unemplyed. Do you want to help support their kid? I do not!! Let them work. As a citizen of this country, looking at the “big picture,” I would rather have a preganat woman gain employment then be unemployed amd having to resort to govermental assitance. People you can not have it both ways!! As for the pregnant women looking for employment, kudoos to you.
    It will always be prejudice in this country that is why discrimantion laws were established to combat baseless and negative attitudes againnst members of this country. If you feel you are being discrimnanted aginst because of your pregnancy contact the EEOC and file a claim, the burden of proof falls on the company. These laws are their to protect you, use it

  25. KellyK*

    I know this is an old post and well past the point of it doing the OP any good, but, hey, there were recent comments, so I figured I’d toss my two cents in.

    Personally, I favor option #2.

    Generally, I don’t think that there’s any ethical obligation to disclose pregnancy in the first trimester, not when being pregnant is so heavily discriminated against. Especially when something like half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. If you thought there was a 50/50 chance of your spouse being transferred in 6-9 months, or a 50/50 chance that you’d need to move to take care of your aging parents, would you bring that up in an interview?

    Certainly it’s a courtesy that helps the potential employer plan better, but I have a hard time saying someone should risk their chances of getting a job in order to be courteous. Especially since the longer they remain unemployed and pregnant, the bigger a risk it becomes for them. Employers who would be happy to hire someone who’s a couple months pregnant might be less inclined to hire someone 6 or 7 months along.

    I don’t even think you necessarily owe it to the company to tell them after you get an offer, but that’s the earliest point when it’s reasonably safe to do so. And since a lot of employers do think they’re owed as much notice as possible, you risk having people upset with you if you delay longer than that.

    The only way I would favor telling them when you interview is if you’re willing to have it considered in whether you’re hired. If you expect to take an unusually long leave or ask to work part-time, or you think there’s a fair chance you may not come back at all, that would be a reasonable thing to do.

  26. Annonymous*

    I agree with option #2 I am also disgusted by alot of the disciminative comments here. I am a recruiter and when I was laid off I was offered severance that lasted 2 months. The day I was laid off I found out I was pregnant. I have applied for several positions trying to get a position while things were early on vs later term. I want to point out that while I was employed, my job was not to discriminate and to submit the most qualified candidate not based on looks or whatever else. Some of you are acting like this is a disability and for people with no children they would not have the issue. That is soooo wrong! I have worked in HR for over 8yrs and have seen clients discriminate based on looks, weight, age etc. Now I am in a position that I lost my job and haven’t been able to secure a FT or even a long-term contract or short term contract as in my field the timing was not great when I was laid off…for the first several months there were no positions out there very far and few between and ALOT of competition. So even though I have the qualifications and could really use the money to support my new family it seems most of you appose of people in my situation not withholding that information until I get the offer. What about my rights? I understand the employer has rights as well but I am not breaking any laws…they would be. Also, I was called about a job after applying I was upfront prior to the interview. They called and said the client is very very interested in interviewing me. I did as what most of you feel is the APPROPRIATE ETHICAL way to handle this and guess what as soon as I did, I got a call 2 hours later stating the client has decided not to interview you because of your pregnancy. So now I am still stuck at home, no job collecting unemployment and now 7 months pregnant and still no job! What happens when unemployment runs out…government assistance to keep food on the table? Even though I could have worked with no issues FT and over time and am totally planning to come back and work FT given I always have….this is my 3rd child.

    Statistics show that to run a family outside of poverty the majority of households must maintain a 2 parent income. And I agree with the person that mentioned you can have a bad seed in a single person with no kids.

    What is a person to do in this case? I have an interview this week and I REALLY REALLY want a job if I were to disclose immediately that gives the employer an out without even getting to know me more just basing off that info and a piece of paper (my resume). Why do that to myself? So I can keep collecting a piddly amount of unemployment that doesn’t even cover my bills and will run out soon all to disclose something that accordingly to an actual law states I do not have to?? Who is really in the wrong here? The person that is just wanting a job or the employer discriminating?

    That just opens up a door to more discriminatory behavior and I wonder what other areas you would discriminate in? As an HR professional I did NOT discriminate against pregnant women, gay men, ugly people, obese candidates, men women, people with no children, people with ADHD, people that were in a higher financial bracket vs. entry level staff. There are so many ways a person can be discriminated against and it’s sad that people think this way about pregnant women it’s so short minded. It’s a funny read here because these people feel so strongly about these women should tell someone but at the same time they are saying that they would never hire them and a company shouldn’t HELLO……this is why women feel they have to keep it quiet. If anything they should look at it as a positive that if they are having to work alittle harder that’s part of team work and when they are out for vaca or a sick family member or god forbid anything happens to them that they need to be out guess what the favor will be returned as this is a temporary thing vs long-term. As to the person that mentioned contractor out and now they need another…having worked in the contract world of supplying clients with contractors. You would not be out any $$$ and typically a back-up can be determined from the initial interview stage. A contractor is only paid for hours worked if they are out due to maternity the employer is not still paying them as they do in a FT employee situation. The worst is that they have to train someone new and locate someone. I have had employers that have been very understanding to situations like this. Not necessarily pregnancy but we had contractors that were from india and did not tell us upfront that they had a wedding some india weddings make it so that they are out an entire month and the contractor waited to tell us a few weeks before it’s a cultural thing of course and we all had to just deal with it. There are ways around it sometimes not I do agree that the client should be notified at time of offer. I list this example to show that it is very similiar to a pregnancy…this happened with multiple contractors from India…did this make them bad people for not telling us sooner. NO they just knew they wouldn’t get the job if they said I have to be out for a month during my 12 month contract- they still need a job but if they told everything this upfront they wouldn’t have a job until their wedding was completed…is that fair to them would they be able to get another job if they sit that long with no employment- probably not as easy…. so again there are many things an employer could discriminate against so you open the door for one then you open the door for many….Let’s not judge and find ways to make it work as you never know what the future brings.

  27. April*

    I’m really interested in the views here, in both directions. I am currently 7 and a half months pregnant. I had been with the same company for a year and a half, and they were REALLY supportive off my pregnancy. I’m sorry, but saying being pregnant doesn’t effect your work at all is just not true. If you are working a 9-5 job you will have to take time off for doctors appointments, no getting around their hours. Things just come up. I have been lucky enough to have had a pretty easy pregnancy, but about a month ago I was having some pains and my doctors called me at work to come in immediately because they thought I had gallstones or something wrong with my liver. I was also just diagnosed with pregnancy related anemia. Things happen during pregnancy you cannot predict, you cannot say it will not effect your ability to do your job. I only took one day off due to not feeling well, which is less than most of the non pregnant employees. My feet hurt all day, my back hurt, I felt horrible, but I refused to ask for special treatment because I didn’t want to be labeled as incompetent. Luckily again though, I had very supportive bosses that would force me to sit down and take it easy every once in a while.

    Now my boyfriend and I have just bought a house and I had to leave my job. This was not ideal for me at this point in my pregnancy, but he has a great job and this just made sense. I was already worried about losing a couple months pay while out on maternity leave, but now I’ve added an extra two months to that. I really want to be working right now, and he is pushing me to find a job also. But I’m not stupid, even my own uncle told me he wouldn’t hire someone as far along as I am, and I’m sure any other employer would agree. I don’t like it, but I understand and I probably wouldn’t either.

  28. Cassi*

    I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents. Having experienced miscarriages, I completely understand the mindset of not disclosing a very early pregnancy. That being said, I am 25 weeks pregnant, and have been job-hunting. I have a position I enjoy and is flexible now, but the pay is inconsistent and the hours are not good for having a family.
    I am seeing a ton of disrespect on this thread, both directed at employers and pregnant women/moms. Here’s my take. I have two boys (6 and 1) and another one coming soon. I don’t want to work for a company that is not going to have flexibility in terms of me being a mom. I think it is a terrible idea to begin a relationship with a potential employer by being deceptive. I have always been open and honest about the fact that I am a Mom. I am very proud of my role as a mother, and I think that it gives an interviewer some insight into skills that I may have. I think being a mom gives me skills most don’t gain without becoming a parent. Have you ever functioned all day long, multitasking all day, juggling work, my big boy’s care and education, taking care of my home and food , nursing an infant (or pumping when needed) taking classes….and doing it all after having spent 6 hours in bed- of course, being interrupted every 2-3 hours to nurse? I have, and I can. Being a mom gives me skills in multi tasking and prioritizing that are hard to otherwise gain. If a company is going to see motherhood as a liability, then I don’t want to work for them.
    That being said, I completely understand and agree that women should disclose. It is not fair to an employer to have to invest the time, money and resources into training and preparing you for a position you will be taking time off of very soon, requiring them to find a replacement/cover the work. I also think that a responsible, pregnant applicant should make her long term intentions clear- this gives employers a full picture of what to expect. For example, I interviewed yesterday for a split-shift director position. I made it clear that I am only interested in the split and not independent, because my being out of the office for maternity leave would put a huge burden on the center without the co-director already in place. I also made it clear that I intend to work until I go into labor (which I have done in the past) and that I am looking for a long term position, not something to “get me through” till the baby comes. I think reassuring an employer of your intention to return to work can help. This would, IMO, help alleviate some of the concern about wasting resources. If I am looking for a career position, that 6 weeks I am gone is less significant (and can be planned for) than if I am only looking to work until I deliver.
    I also think that a pregnant woman should be prepared to take her maternity leave as an unpaid leave, considering the employment timeline, although I don think that paid time off for maternity and paternity leave is a GREAT benefit to offer employees.
    I have to point out though, that it helps that I am looking for work as a childcare center director. I think being dishonest in that field is even more reprehensible.

  29. Dani*

    I know this is an old thread but I recently took up a job as a cashier at a gas station….but I am 7 months pregnant. I did not let the woman who hired me know and was planning to let her know after I am done training. But I would like advice on whether what’s am doing is wrong or not and what I can do now??

  30. Nancy L*

    Wow stumbled on this thread, unbelievable! I recently hired someone who was pregnant and did not inform me during the process. I did know before they were hired because one of her references disclosed it (illegally). There were 2 advantages to hiring her even though she was pregnant. One, she was the best qualified candidate. Two, she is grateful and loyal as a result. I asked her the first day of employment if she was pregnant (also illegal), but it did two things, it relieved her of feeling dishonest and let her know that I valued her skills regardless of pregnancy. My hiring philosophy, although shared by few managers I have shared it with, is: I would rather have an outstanding employee for 6 months, who can take this job to a new level, than a mediocre employee for 5 years who does the job well, but who is not a rising star. Life happens, you could lose any employee in 6 months (or 2 weeks) due to life circumstances, car accident, death in the family, disable spouse, parent, etc. Anything can change, pregnancy is the least of them, because at least you can plan for the outage and the return of the employee.

    1. Anonymous*

      I admire you for being open-minded and for treating your employee with respect and dignity.

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