is it dishonest not to disclose you’re pregnant when you’re interviewing?

A reader writes:

I’m hoping you can settle a discussion between my parents and I. I’m not sure if our different views are because we’re from different generations (Boomers vs. Millennial) or because my view is colored by the fact that I’m almost six months pregnant right now.

I was considering applying for a different job within my current organization, since it would be about a 30% pay raise and I’m well qualified for it. I ended up deciding not to since I want to cut down on scheduling uncertainty given that I’m having my first kid this year, but when discussing the decision with my parents they expressed that they doubted the interviewers would want to hire me given that I’m currently pregnant (my organization gives eight weeks of maternity leave so I would be out for two months after giving birth). I pointed out that I would not bring that up before receiving an offer/being hired, and that given this job and my current one are fully remote right now due to COVID-19 and would only be Zoom interviews, they likely would not know beforehand.

My parents expressed that this was a dishonest approach and if they had hired someone who turned out to be pregnant and then went on leave they would be very upset as the hiring manager and it would negatively color their view of the new employee. My viewpoint was that it is illegal for the interviewer to factor my pregnancy into their decision so I would just remove that element from their decision-making. Additionally, this organization prides itself on being progressive and family-friendly, so I believe if they were inadvertently penalizing women for their reproductive choices, it would be in direct contrast to their stated values.

Obviously in my case, it is a non-issue since I decided to stay put for now, but I’m curious what you think? Is it dishonest to hide a pregnancy prior to an offer/accepting a job?

It is not dishonest to hide a pregnancy before accepting a job.

The reason we have laws against pregnancy discrimination is because employers discriminate against pregnant women. And like other forms of discrimination, much of it happens unconsciously. An interviewer might truly want to be family-friendly and support women, and could still end up discriminating against you — because that’s how bias works and why it’s so insidious. You don’t have to be a bad person to be unconsciously influenced by the biases of our culture. (Although I’d argue that to be a good person, you have to actively try to counter it in yourself.)

You’re actually doing employers a favor by not disclosing a pregnancy until you have a job offer or even later. As you point out, they can’t legally consider the information, so it’s better for them if they don’t know about it — so that it can’t unconsciously influence them and so they don’t need to worry that you’ll wonder if they illegally discriminated against you if they end up not hiring you. Legally the info must be off the table — so making that easy to do is a favor to everyone.

When people say they’d feel lied to if they hired someone who didn’t disclose a pregnancy, what they’re really saying is that they feel justified in breaking the law. Why would an employer need to know that info before hiring if they weren’t going to consider it in any way? Even if they just wanted to be able to plan for how it would affect the work, that’s something they’ll be able to do once it does get announced (just like with current employees who get pregnant) — and if “plan for how it would affect the work” means “consider whether I can put this person in the role or not,” that’s illegal so it’s off the table anyway.*

Sometimes you hear someone say, “It wouldn’t affect my hiring decision, but it’s going to be relevant to the work in X months when they go on maternity leave, and if they keep that from me I feel like they’re starting the relationship dishonestly.” Maybe they’re even right that it wouldn’t affect their hiring decision. But a candidate has no way of knowing if it would or not, and given that pregnancy discrimination is widespread, it’s not reasonable to expect a candidate to take that risk, particularly when the law says she doesn’t need to. It’s not dishonest not to proactively volunteer information someone isn’t entitled to.

Instead of “it’s dishonest for pregnant people not to disclose their pregnancies,” the narrative should really be “it’s crappy for employers to expect pregnant people to make themselves vulnerable to discrimination.”

*Note that that the law doesn’t apply to employers under 15 employees, so those aren’t the ones we’re talking about here.

{ 691 comments… read them below }

  1. Essess*

    Flat out ask your parents why they feel they need to know in the interview. What would it change? If it would change anything, then your parents would have been doing something illegal during the hiring process. You are absolutely correct, your parents are horribly wrong!

    1. Tyche*

      Yup! Them feeling like they were lied to is really telling as far as their hiring practices. Yeah it’s probably not expected to have someone come on and then need to take parental leave but it’s not unheard of. Generally a business has a gap in someone filling a position when the position opens up, so whatever they were doing to get the work done can just be done when it’s time for parental leave. Or whatever they decide but the potential hire shouldn’t disclose since her parents seem to be clear examples of bias.

      1. AVP*

        And if it absolutely can’t happen that way, it’s on the hiring company and hiring process to make that plain and triple-check “you must 100% be here this week to success in this role” dates during the hiring process and offer. No reason for those to be a surprise!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Would they expect a man to disclose that his wife is pregnant in a company or country that offers parental leave to both parents? I suspect not.

    3. Anonys*

      to be fair the parents also said they didn’t think the hiring manager would want to hire a pregnant woman. So they apparently do think the information changes something – illegal as it may be. Combined with the fact that they find it dishonest not to disclose a pregnancy but apparently find it normal not to hire a pregnant woman I assume they are part of a large part of the population who feel quite justified in discriminating against pregnant women.

      Honestly, i think that prejudice is something that is still quite accepted in society, regardless of how far we’ve come feminism wise. I defintely know people who will say: “but it just doesnt make SENSE to hire someone who will then be out for months – we basically have to go through the hiring process twice”. In European countries where legally guaranteed parental leave can be years long, this is essentially true – but its still not a reason to discriminate against women who are birthing the next generation of taxpayer. But basically a lot of people think “well pregnancy is a choice (mostly) and certain costs (childcare, job etc) just come with it” completely ignoring the societal disadvantage that attitude puts women/childbearer at

        1. Stitching Away*

          I used to work for a company that provided a prenatal and maternity benefit for a lot of other companies. A women wrote in to set up her account, it was her first day with this company and her due date was in three days. I wanted to throw the company that hired her a parade. This was in the US.

          Not that this should be such an unusual thing, in this day and age, but it is.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          I had a boss that checked for wedding rings on women he thought were around 30 years old. Because that’s how you know they’ll reproduce. It was a useful life lesson to hear his misogyny.

          1. Maewin the Lascerator*

            On the other side, I had a boss who worried that unmarried women might get married and move away to be with a partner.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              And I’ve lied about being engaged to my boyfriend before, because saying you’re moving somewhere because it’s where your boyfriend works makes people think you’re flighty.

        3. Splendid Colors*

          Hugs. I’d be unhappy to find out my family followed unethical practices like that.

      1. ErinWV*

        You make a great point about how it is more of an inconvenience in Europe (still one that should be uncomplainingly dealt with), where companies have to hire another person to cover a leave that lasts a year or more. It adds insult to injury to suggest to American women that there is anything wrong with them taking a maternity leave that in most places will probably last between 2 and 12 weeks.

        Like OP, I think there is a generational component here, too. Company loyalty was a thing for our Boomer parents in a way that changes in industry and the economy just don’t allow for anymore.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I lived in the UK. Hiring folks for pregnancy leave coverage was actually a great opportunity. It means there are basically more jobs, you could find temp jobs for a year or so. I had friends who sort of job hopped as pregnancy leave jobs and they loved the variety and the chance to get experience.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. One of my team did shared parental leave with his wife a couple of years ago and was off for 6 months. It allowed me to offer a more junior team member a chance to do the job on a temporary basis which gave her some really good experience and a chance to work at the more senior job.

            Maternity cover is a really good opportunity for that sort of thing in my company.

              1. workswitholdstuff*

                I started off at my present museum as a 1 year maternity contract. (my predecessor then came back pregnant so they kept me on…)
                With various other temp contracts there, I was then eventually made permanent.

                It’s been 12 years since I started that first maternity cover!

                But I fully went in with the attitude of ‘its a great way to get a variety of experiences and jobs on the CV’. And maternity cover as a the post is a great, self-explanatory reason why you ‘left’ a job – the contract ended!

                1. Despachito*

                  This sounds very interesting, and it makes me think I might explore this option here as well – thanks for the idea!

          2. Anonys*

            Yeah, I think it can actually be easier to hire someone as a maternity cover for say 2 years (not uncommon in Germany where maternity leave can be up to 3 years) than for 2 months because with 2 years you have time to fully train someone.

            Maternity leave cover jobs can for sure be a good opportunity, esp for recents grads (at least in Germany – maternity leave cover is almost its own job category). Because the job has an end date, it’s often not quite as attractive to more senior employees so those roles can be easier to get into with less experience, even if you dont technically meet all the qualifications. And if you become a great team member, many companies will try to find a way to keep you on or move you to another team. I started out at my current company as a maternity leave cover and Im still here now that the mother is back at work. She decided to move to a role in a department thats more in line with her career goals upon returning so its a win win.

          3. Canadian Valkyrie*

            I live in a country that also has 12+ months mat leave and it actually seems it make it easier on the business front AND for the parents, especially for more technical roles — it means if you have to spend 6 weeks training someone, you can actually reap the benefits of having them for 12+ months, versus the expense of training someone OR losing out on work for just a few weeks/months.

            1. onco fonco*

              Yes! I think there’s a perception in countries without long parental leave that it must be some intolerable burden on the company and the rest of the person’s team, but IME that just isn’t the case. Getting someone in for a year’s leave cover works pretty well all round. On the other hand, hiring someone to cover a short leave only makes sense if you can get them usefully up to speed very quickly, so that’s when the work all falls on existing coworkers.

          4. CaliUKexpat*

            Absolutely agree! When I moved here from the US, I took a series of maternity cover jobs and it was brilliant. Loads of experience, opportunities to get your foot in the door to other roles if desired, and given my references were hard to reach due to the time difference, I was able to build a solid list of new and good references fairly quickly. I got going over here way faster than I ever did Stateside, it was fantastic.

          5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            It’s how I got my first managerial job! Filled in for a woman out on a year maternity leave and when she decided to not return to work afterwards I got the job full time.

          6. allathian*

            We initally hired my current coworker for maternity and parental leave coverage for two years, and when the mom on parental leave decided not to come back, he was hired permanently because he already knew the job and wanted to stay. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door.

          7. wittyrepartee*

            I’ve actually thought this before. It sounds like a great way to build experience early on.

        2. KayEss*

          My job has offices both in the US and Canada, and I’ve heard the department director say it’s actually easier to get coverage for Canada’s one-year leave because there are many more skilled workers willing to take a one-year contract than a 12-week one. (Probably also doesn’t hurt that those contractors aren’t out health insurance, either.)

            1. SometimesALurker*

              Ooh, I love “specialist worker” as a more accurate replacement for what many of us have been taught to call “skilled worker.”

      2. nicotena*

        They also probably bemoan our falling birth rate! Some things do not add up: most families need to incomes to afford basic expenses so women need to work, but child care is exorbitant for the average family, while women are prevented from working, or at least advancing, by bias in the workplace. How surprised can we be that a lot of people of child-bearing age are giving this a pass? Then the parents will wail about their lack of grandkids.

        1. Despachito*

          I do not want to digress but I am wondering whether the increased portion of WFH due to Covid can add some flexibility to the work-life balance and positively influence the parenting choices of more people.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          It’s weird, it’s almost like the family lip service politicians pay to “family values” in the US is just that…lip service.

        3. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Thisis actually how Elizabeth Warren came to the attention of the Obama administration. She and her daughter wrote the book “The Two-Income Trap” for policy wonks, then followed it up with “All Your Worth,” which I still consider the best intro to personal finance book.

      3. Boof*

        If i’m not mistaken, in European countries with extended parental leave the government pays for part of it so the company isn’t paying for 2 people for a year (but the do have to hire/onboard/train/etc the covering provider)

        1. Despachito*

          I am not 100% sure and do not know about other countries but in my country (Czechia), I think that while you are on parental leave the employer does not pay anything for you, just has to hold your position (for the first approximately 6 months which are technically called “maternity leave”), or a comparable one for the rest up to the 3 years of age of the kid (which are technically called “parental leave” and can be taken by any of the parents or they can alternate.

          The insurance for you and the child during that time is paid by the state, and moreover it pays you a fixed amount of money and you can decide how you want it spread – you can opt for receiving larger monthly payments for a shorter period of time, or smaller amounts spread over longer period up to four years of the kid. Just for the picture, the amount is the equivalent of 14 thousand dollars, which would be altogether about 8 months’ worth of average salary before tax.

        2. onco fonco*

          This is how it works in the UK – maternity pay is largely state-funded, the company doesn’t have to come up with that person’s salary out of nowhere.

          1. Despachito*

            I actually find it much fairer that it’s the state who takes the brunt of the understandable life situations instead of the employer.

            It makes much more sense to me if we all pay taxes/contributions when we are lucky enough that no life emergencies appear in our lives, and that the money goes to those who aren’t so lucky at the moment, and perhaps will never be. And if we happen to become stricken by some issues which prevent us from working (be it sickness, disability, parenthood, need to care for a family member, old age), we can rely on the system to support us.

            It certainly has its flaws as is, but there is at least some certainty and solidarity. I do not mind paying taxes and contributions if they are used to support those of us who cannot support themselves, and I find it much less of a burden for the state than it would probably be for the individual employer.

            1. onco fonco*

              I agree entirely! The social safety net is there for everyone, and chances are we’ll all need it at some point or other, whether it’s for education, medical care, parental leave, you name it – and we never know when it’s going to be our turn to call on that aid. So we all pay in. Obvious to me. Plus everyone reaps the societal benefits of a healthy workforce and a well-educated and cared-for generation of kids coming up behind us to do what needs doing when we retire.

      4. Koalafied*

        Exactly, are women just supposed to let their careers stagnate for an extra 7-9 months before they even need to be on leave? Like ghosts in the workplace, there doing work at the same standard expected of everyone, but not really there when it comes to opportunities for advancement.

      5. wittyrepartee*

        This is why I think we need mandatory paternity leave. Just make having kids a normal interrupter of work. Sometimes people have kids, sometimes people get sick, sometimes people need to take a sabbatical because they’re burned out. Life happens.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          And mandatory maternity leave as well. Obviously. Potentially with like- 8 more weeks added on as bodily recovery time. Don’t just give it to the menz.

          1. Despachito*

            No, please, nothing mandatory.

            Let it be a realistic option, and let people decide for themselves.

    4. Lisa*

      It would change the fact that: they aren’t a charity, they need a person in the job.Doing the job. Which someone out on maternity leave isn’t able to do.

      1. onco fonco*

        Humans take leave. They reproduce, they get sick. You want to employ humans, you 100% need to plan for the fact that they will do human stuff, sometimes without warning or on a schedule that isn’t optimal for you. If you can’t cope with that then you don’t get to be in business.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          I’m always surprised when a business acts like it’s unheard of and inconvenient for employees to take sick days or vacation. People aren’t machines, and even if they were, machines wear out sometimes, too. It isn’t the fault of the employee that a higher up decided that skeleton staffing was the way to go to save some money, and then anytime someone gets the flu the world catches fire and nothing can get done appropriately.

          1. onco fonco*

            Yes! And we seem to accept that business expectations are some kind of inescapable reality, so rigid that the actual reality of human biology must bend around them. If basic human needs cause an intolerable burden on a particular team/department then the problem is a top-down failure to plan for reality. The problem is not the human needs.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        So you’re against sick days and vacation days as well? After all, if someone is out they can’t do the job.

    5. Pat McGill*

      “ I’d like you to hire me for a few months, then be obligated to provide me paid leave for several more months after that, all while having to find and pay for my replacement until I return, if returning is something I decide to do.”

      1. onco fonco*

        Do you require people to disclose everything that might result in needing leave? Aging parents? Partner with ill health? Liking for dangerous sports? Being on the waiting list for a hip replacement? Or is it just those unreasonable women having babies that can single-handedly bring down a company?

      2. Admin Lackey*

        People don’t live to work and they don’t need to consider a businesses preferences when looking for work. This is a terrible take

      3. Jennifer Strange*

        “I’d like to hire you with the constantly underlying notion that at any moment you could be let go with no safety net, whether it’s because we’re running out of money and see you as the most expendable or because you wore red when meeting with out biggest client and they think red is the sign of the devil.”

    6. KP*

      I don’t know.

      Example: I’m employing someone to fill a role, they are 6 months pregnant at interview. I offer, they accept, they have baby – I have no-one to do the role for 3 months, I have to hire a temp, costing me more. I haven’t been able to plan for that cost because it’s against the law to ask and I was not told.

      It’s not going to help you start your role as my employee on a great footing, I’m going to be pissed.

      It is right that you should never be able to ask someone if they are “planning a family” but not telling someone you are pregnant seems to favour the employee significantly more.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        but not telling someone you are pregnant seems to favour the employee significantly more.

        Nope, it favors both since factoring it into your decision to hire someone would be illegal. If you don’t know they’re pregnant and choose not to hire them, there’s no way it was discrimination since you didn’t have that knowledge.

        Example: I’m employing someone to fill a role, they are 6 months pregnant at interview. I offer, they accept, they have baby – I have no-one to do the role for 3 months, I have to hire a temp, costing me more. I haven’t been able to plan for that cost because it’s against the law to ask and I was not told.

        That’s a cost of doing business. If she had suddenly been out for an illness you’d have had to hire a temp. Also, since employees can be let go at any moment with no notice (creating costs they can’t plan for) it’s hard to have sympathy for a business that sometimes goes through the same thing.

  2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    You’re actually doing employers a favor by not disclosing a pregnancy until you have a job offer or even later. As you point out, they can’t legally consider the information, so it’s better for them if they don’t know about it — so that it can’t unconsciously influence them and so they don’t need to worry that you’ll wonder if they illegally discriminated against you if they end up not hiring you. Legally the info must be off the table — so making that easy to do is a favor to everyone.

    I just love this paragraph. It dovetails so nicely with guidelines (including HIPAA) where you only gather and use what information is strictly needed, rather than collecting more information that mainly serves as a liability.

    1. Anonys*

      Yes, I LOVE the phrasing of “doing them a favor” Alison uses with regard no not disclosing anything that might be the basis for discrimination. I remeber being told in school “if an employer asks you if you are planning to have kids (soon) you can lie and say now bc its illegal to ask and you dont owe the the truth” but that always still felt dishonest to me. Thinking “im HELPING them to stay on the right side of the law” – so much more empowering

      1. Betty*

        Someone once on a career panel I attended suggested “that’s not a concern for my candidacy” or something similar when asked something that’s illegal for an employer to consider (“So, are you planning to start a family soon?” “Oh, that’s not a concern for my candidacy. But I’d love to hear more about how you’re handling the new regulatory changes to llama grooming, since I know that’s been an issue for this sector.”)

        1. Katrine Fonsmark*

          I prefer “why do you ask?” with a quizzical smile. Puts it back on them AND lets them know that you know they shouldn’t be asking.

    2. Birch*

      I love this too and I think it’s a great way to bring it up to the hiring manager when you get the offer! This is one of those things where the way you present it can really affect how it’s received, and what responses are available to the recipient of the info. If you present it as something you have done for them to protect them from claims of discrimination, then they can’t really argue with that!

    3. LANbeforetime*

      As someone who has been on hiring committees, I 100% agree. Please do NOT tell me that you are pregnant, or have a disability (unless you need an accommodation during the application process), or what your sexuality or marital status is, or your race if it’s a phone screening. It is doing the hiring employer such a favor to be able to be truly neutral to those factors because they are unaware of them.

  3. Allypopx*

    “You’re actually doing employers a favor by not disclosing a pregnancy until you have a job offer or even later.”

    This. This recently happened at my company where someone was hired and then disclosed she was pregnant, and while yes, it’s going to be inconvenient and everyone was a little taken aback, everyone (including the higher up boomers) agreed she did the right thing and it was better not to know.

    In a perfect world it wouldn’t matter, but here we are.

    1. not that kind of Doctor*

      This happened on my team too – newly hired support person disclosed her pregnancy while she was onboarding with HR. It was interesting to note my own default reaction was to be annoyed by the inconvenience. Fortunately I was able to keep that to myself – and was prepared to talk down the person she was hired to support, who was quite upset (she’s a bit of a drama queen).

      The new person was advised by her mother not to tell us at all, or at least until she couldn’t hide it anymore. I appreciated the early heads-up, but I definitely see the value in not disclosing before the hiring process is finished.

      1. Allypopx*

        I think it’s okay to be privately annoyed! It can be a massive inconvenience. You just still need to deal with those feelings professionally – which is much easier if you don’t know until they’re hired (but I agree, more notice and time to plan is a huge help)

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Right! You’re allowed to feel how you’re going to feel, but keeping those feelings to yourself in this case is the right thing to do. Go home and complain to your partner, or your dog/cat/bearded dragon, but don’t make the new employee feel bad for making the decision that was best for them.

        2. Anonys*

          But would you feel annoyed if someone announced an illness or disability? Of course you cant control your feelings but its worth reflecting on those and maybe the next time you are in the situation you will feel differently?

          1. Allypopx*

            Probably! At least when I sat down to plan out the strategy to deal with it. Feelings can co-exist – you can feel sympathetic for someone and still frustrated with the situation you find yourself in.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              This is exactly true. At one former job, I was in a three person department in which the other two people were using intermittent FMLA to care for their spouses who both had life threatening illnesses. I felt so terrible that they were going through such difficult experiences, it was so heartbreaking. But I still felt frazzled and frustrated on the days when they were both out and I had to do the work of keeping the department running by myself. I felt both things, and I did everything I could to keep that frustration out of my interactions with them when they were in the office.

              1. Starbuck*

                Being annoyed at management for not arranging for more staff coverage is another possible reaction.

              2. KK*

                I’m going through something similar right now. My direct supervisor has a severe, debilitating, but non life threatening problem that I also have. I know my triggers and have mine well under control, but it’s been well over a year and hers still isn’t under control.

                I feel really bad for her, but at the same time I’m SO frustrated . She exhausts herself doing job interviews so she ends up being unable to train us, she has me and another coworker train two newer employees who straight up won’t listen, and give us eye rolls and attitude when corrected. She knows it’s all going on but nothing is being done, and our big boss is too busy trying to make sure we get more funding to address things.

                I don’t tell her how angry I am sometimes, but I’m still angry.

          2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

            If someone on my team announced an illness or disability, I would, privately, be stressed and frustrated about the impact on the team! I would also–publicly and privately–be concerned for their wellbeing, supportive, and willing to go out of my way to help them*. Feelings aren’t inherently wrong; it’s how (and whether) you express them, how you act on them, can be right or wrong.

            *Not by surprising them with a personalized cartoon handicapped parking sign.

            1. Allypopx*

              “Not by surprising them with a personalized cartoon handicapped parking sign.”


            2. onco fonco*

              Yes! It’s fine to privately have feelings about having to solve a problem that you thought you’d already solved by hiring the person. But that’s just work. Business. Life. It still needs to be handled correctly. I have feelings about all kinds of things at work. Some of those are things I could reasonably try to change, and some aren’t, so in the latter case I have the feelings and then get on with what needs doing.

          3. ErinWV*

            I think the answer is yes there too. We’ve had to scramble to cover the work of a very valuable contributor who suddenly had to be out for a few months to recover from surgery and treatment for cancer. Everyone was completely sympathetic to her situation and worried for her, a person we all like going through scary health problems. But we also had to very quickly find somebody who could do the work, have them do it not as well as she would have done it, and deal with the fallout of that. Nobody ever complained about this TO HER because it’s NOT HER FAULT. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big mess everyone wishes could have been avoided. People are selfish and imperfect creatures. We get annoyed over things that are nobody’s fault.

          4. Indigo a la mode*

            Absolutely. On my (very, very supportive and loving) team, we just had someone come back from a month of unexpected FMLA leave after a mental health crisis, and a week later, another teammate decided to take a month of FMLA for the sake of her own mental health. We were already trying to hire two people, so losing another is a big blow – plus, one of our work areas is healthcare staffing, which means it’s in crisis mode again thanks to the delta variant.

            This is frankly an inconvenient situation! We want everyone’s health to come first, and we’ll manage because that’s how business goes sometimes, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to feel frustrated by the timing and the situation at hand. Obviously we would never voice anything to my coworker but support and concern for her health. Her amazing work isn’t work the expense of her health. We’ll just really miss her amazing work!

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Agree! I would be privately annoyed by the inconvenience as well. It IS inconvenient to hire someone, spend time training them, and have to temporarily backfill their position in short order, and it’s okay to feel that way as long as it doesn’t affect how one treats the employee. We all have a knee-jerk emotional reactions to all sorts of things that are perfectly normal and not an issue unless it taints one’s treatment of the employee. (I have someone on my team who has a habit that irritates the crap out of me but is otherwise fine, but I don’t avoid his phone calls or treat him differently – and it’s the latter that matters.)

      2. JP*

        If companies had less discrimination against pregnant people, we could have more lead time to plan around it, new hire or not. I know my pregnancy will cause hassle for my colleagues, but I’m delaying my announcement because I don’t want to be denied opportunities based on upcoming leave.

      3. wittyrepartee*

        I’m of the opinion that private negative feelings are morally neutral as long as you don’t take them as accurate judgements or act inappropriately because of them. So, go on! Feel grouchy about it!

    2. Kate*

      An adjacent situation to this came up when I was selling my house last year and had 9 offers in four days; several of the people had written letters to me as the seller, describing their family – a “pulling heartstrings” packet put together, trying to stand out in a wild seller’s market.

      My real estate agent needed to tell me they existed (because they were handed in as part of the offers and they can’t withhold anything the buyer’s agent submits), and I asked her to not show me any of the letters because I absolutely did not want to be in a position of making a decision that could appear discriminatory if there were several offers that were very close.

      1. Librolover*

        My realtor said, earlier this year, that “buyer love letters” were not allowed because of this

        1. Windchime*

          I got a “buyer’s love letter” when I was selling my house. I really wanted to sell to her, but honestly her offer was not good so I went with someone else. But I can see where they should not be allowed–it is a situation that could very easily be discriminatory.

    3. Koalafied*

      The other thing to realize is there’s cognitive bias towards events that are closer to us in time seeming more significant, which plays into this

      A person who is hired and takes parental leave a week after staring and a person who is hired and takes leave a year after starting have exactly the same cost and logistics burden on the company. Looking at the situation on the basis of “How much leave will they take in the first 6 months?” instead of
      “How much leave will they take in their first 1-2 years?” or “How much leave will they take over the course of their employment with us?” is ultimately an arbitrary time frame (unless the employer is such a crappy place to work that they have high rapid turnover and expect that a new hire would have quit within 1 year anyway).

      It just feels more inconvenient because it’s happening now/soon and you’ve just sunk all this time into hiring because you wanted a coverage solution now and now you have to invest additional time in finding that coverage on a temporary basis… But you would have been investing that same amount of additional time regardless of whether the leave happened within a couple of months or a year later.

      If we agree that parental leave is a social good and businesses should provide it even at their own expense, then the timing is irrelevant from a purely business perspective. It’s only our biased human emotions that make work now feel more onerous than work later (just ask any procrastinator).

      1. TootsNYC*

        and this might be a good spot to point out: in the US, FMLA doesn’t even kick in until you’ve worked there for a year.
        So unless your company has a more generous policy, the new employee might not be out for as long as you fear.

        an employee must (1) work for a covered employer, (2) work 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave, (3) work at a location where 50 or more employees work at that location or within 75 miles of it, and (4) have worked for the employer for 12 months. The 12 months of employment are not required to be consecutive in order for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave.

  4. anon for this!*

    What if the situation is not a job, but a training programme that lasts one or two years and includes a professional placement (that may or may not be a job)?

    1. The Tin Man*

      My question is – why would that be any different? Plus the maternity leave is only 8 weeks – it’s not like it would be a one year leave from a one year program.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Depends on the country– European time frames are indeed in the order of a full year.

          1. Yipsie*

            But someone different is asking a completely separate question, seemingly based on their own circumstances.

      2. TootsNYC*

        if an absence will derail the training, and an absence truly can’t be accommodated for, then in the US you could say, “Will there by anything that would make it impossible for you to complete this training uninterrupted?”

    2. Snailing*

      I don’t think the same legalities would apply since a program is not an employer (but I could very easily be wrong).

      So just on the ethical side of things – I would still argue it doesn’t matter. Sure, maybe for a 2-3 month program, it would matter because the person in question would miss all of it. But a 1-2 year program? They would probably only miss about ~15-20% of the program, and could easily make up that time just like pregnant people do while in school or employed.

      It should be the pregnant person’s decision if they can handle that program if they should try again next year when they aren’t pregnant. It’s not the employer’s/program-runner’s responsibility to decide what any given person can handle. (And I would make the same argument for anyone dealing with a medical issue – positive or negative.)

    3. Rav*

      I don’t work on HR, but I imagine it’s okay.

      Let’s say an employee gets pregnant on the first day of work with her husband. That means that close to halfway through a two year training program, she will be unavailable. The company has no other recourse here. Therefore, the conception date isn’t important in terms of the ability to work this program.

    4. Amandalikeshummus*

      Depending on the setting, there may still be legal protections. For example, I’m going back to school and having a baby at the same time. In my case, I’m protected by Title IX and will receive accommodations.

      The ADA may come into play places where pregnancy discrimination laws do not, since childbirth results in temporary disability.

      You could research the legal jurisdictions under which your program falls, or you could default to accommodating pregnant/postnatal people. Training and early career program participants are often in their childbearing years, so it makes the most sense to treat the trainees as the humans they are.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Then you would say to applicants in the interview, “because of the limited time duration of this program, we need to make sure that the person we select for the position will be able to commit to [timeframe] and does not plan to be absent for more than a month at a stretch [or whatever you feel is reasonable]. Is that something you can commit to?” This way, the pregnancy doesn’t come into it specifically. Just like you would ask for a job that required heavy lifting, “can you safely lift 50 pounds frequently throughout the day?” Pregnant people would almost always have to say no to that, but so would other people who just don’t have the strength or whatever. You’re just stating the requirements of the position and asking if they can fulfill them. Now, if someone happened to get pregnant AFTER being accepted, well, c’est la vie. But if someone knew in advance that they would need to take 2+ months of leave when they accepted this position, but still agreed to those terms…that would in fact be dishonest and a real problem.

      1. HelenofWhat*

        It really depends on whether that’s actually necessary. As others have need, many programs would have the ability to work around the absence with the person.

        (Btw if your username is a knitting reference, I love it!)

    6. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      It depends on the requirements of the program. Some training programs have strict attendance policies that are tied into state or federal licensure requirements; if you miss more than a specified number of classes/hours, you cannot graduate. As long as that standard is applied equally to all applicants/participants, I don’t think that would be discriminatory. (But then again I’m not a lawyer!)

    7. HigherEdAdminista*

      I work in higher education and work with some students who are training for specific careers. We have had students get pregnant during the program and take parental leave several times; it doesn’t really cause us any issue! Their completion of the program will be delayed (compared to if they had never taken a leave), but we help them with all that.

    8. Forrest*

      You should build the expectation that some people will need to take maternity / sickness / carers’ leave into the design of the programme and figure out how you’re going to manage it before you go live. That honestly should be basic– you should not ever be planning for a world in which your trainees or employees don’t have bodies and lives.

  5. Laurie*

    Holy crap, don’t ever listen to a Boomer for workplace advice! Their “advice” is at least 30+ years out of date! Don’t disclose your pregnancy.

    1. Allypopx*

      I wish I could say this was unfair, because I hope once I’m that age I’ll have useful advice to give…but they keep proving you right unfortunately.

      1. Paige*

        When I reach that age, I fully intend to say something along the lines of “this is how it worked when I was in this position, but it was X years ago, so ask other people, too. Also, there’s this great site called AskAManager…”

      2. Snailing*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily unfair – if you think about it, in 30 year’s time, I’ll be the same age as boomers are now, and I will probably be just as out-of-touch by that time (unless I stay in HR – then maybe I’ll keep up more with changes, but even then, who knows!).

        It’s not about being mean to boomers, it’s about recognizing that those who were learning workplace norms 30 years ago and have coasted on those same norms are just not paying as much attention to the changes now because they may not need to. (Well, unless they are doing the hiring and managing, in which case, they have a responsibility to stay current.)

        1. quill*

          Also the workplace norms they internalized were based in part on the social norms that THEIR parents and mentors ascribed to, in a much more isolated (geographically, politically…) and unprotected (legally, politically) time… so a member of Gen Z who has internalized social norms from their (Probably Gen X) parents or a specific region who starts in the workplace tomorrow is at the exact same risk of being out of touch based on the society around them.

          So it’s not always “oh, things are different based on the 35 years since you were 21 and entering the workforce!” It’s about whether or not your specific set of boomers had widely applicable experience ever in the first place AND if they’ve had to make any major changes in their work norms within the last, say, decade.

          For example: I would never trust my mom (either the eldest gen x or the youngest boomer depending on your math) on office norms because she has never worked in an office, the same reason I would never trust my brother (who may or may not be a millennial, again depending on where you stick the cutoff date.)

    2. Ginger Baker*

      30+ years out of date? I mean, obvs you have to know your own parents and all, but mine certainly did not retire at in her 40s (and actually is still working part time at 71). There are a number of older folks I’d much rather take advice from than some of the newbies to the work force we also hear not-great stuff about all the time here.

      1. Allypopx*

        They might have been working but that doesn’t necessarily mean they did a lot of job hunting/hiring or kept up with evolving professional standards

        1. Paris Geller*

          Yeah, when I was first job hunting after college my dad made me feel bad (very unintentionally!) by telling me it’s very common to get offered every job you interview for, and by the time they’re interviewing you they already want you in the role unless something warns them off of you. He thought I was interviewing poorly because I was nervous. I was relieved to find out later that no, often companies are interviewing multiple qualified candidates and not getting a job doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. He didn’t retire until 2019, but his last interview had been in 1988. He had three jobs in this life (not counting his high school jobs)–military, job #1, job #2 where he stayed for 30 years.

        2. doreen*

          And age doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t kept up. I’m a late Boomer with Millennial daughter and there is no way I would tell her to disclose a pregnancy when she was interviewing. In fact, I was annoyed when someone I was interviewing disclosed that she was pregnant during the interview because I couldn’t figure out why she wanted me to know something I couldn’t consider.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        A lot of that generation got their jobs (in their field) soon out of college and have switched jobs fewer than five times in their lives, or even stayed with the same employer their whole career (because there were things like a decent job ladder and pensions and job searching wasn’t the only way for their income to keep up with inflation.)

        So their job-getting advice is from the 70s/80s, and indeed wildly out of date.

      3. Bob's Your Uncle*

        Oh, I think it’s fair to say they’re 30 years out of date. My parents didn’t retired at 40 either, but both stayed 20+ years in the same job, meaning they’re now are completely out of touch with interviewing/job hunting norms. Heck, my dad still believes I’m not working when I’m working from home because after all, I am at home.

      4. Firecat*

        Ha yep!

        I had a coworker who loudly complained how ridiculous it was that she had to provide proof of citizenship and provide multiple forms of ID when she got a job at another company in 2016.

        Of course she was a loud proponent of the political party who puts all that red tape between you and jobs/voting/government services. I believe the irony was completely lost on her. She simply had no clue what being hired was like because she had worked at our company for 30 years and internal transfers are nothing like applying for and jumping through the hoops of a new company.

        Honestly a lot of the economy is like that. My mother in law was shocked to find out how much our trash service costs. She has a senior discount so it only coast her $30 a year. Well 35% or more of the town is 55 and over so how do you think the can afford to maintain that discount service? By charging young adults $105 a year! Then these same people are like – who on earth needs $15 an hour to survive?

    3. Disgusted*

      I see ageism is once again getting a pass on this site because yes, everyone who is older than you doesn’t know how the workplace operates.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yes, I tend to view the bad advice from parents and grandparents as coming from people who don’t realize or can’t accept that things change all the time, and you don’t have to be old to have that point of view. Plenty of young people are resistant to change, as well. Let’s leave age out of it.

      2. Pobody’s Nerfect*

        Can confirm I no longer go to my Boomer Dad for job advice, as his go-to for years now has been “just walk in the door, look them in the eye, and get that job with gumption. If that doesn’t work, hire a head hunter to get you the job.” It’s not ageism to discount his suggestions, it’s just a realism that he’s well-meaning but out of touch with current procedures.

        1. Me*

          My father in his 70s is still working for the feds as a contractor. I take zero work advice from him exactly because the world he navigated through his working life is not the world now. It’s just not. And honestly it took me a long time to learn that a lot of his advice in general, not just work, is from a time and place that no longer exists. That’s not ageism. It’s the recognition that things change.
          And I’m dealing with that now with my 20 year old daughter. My college experience is from a different time. Giving her advice based on my experience isn’t helpful. I do my best to listen and give advice based on the information she gives me, but for the most part she gets better information from people like her advisors and the financial aide office.

    4. anonymouse*

      It’s true that they may not be up on the most current laws. I work with a woman who, when the office water cooler conversation came to salary was very uncomfortable. She’d worked at places where you’d be fired for that.
      I explained, that’s why federal laws were enacted to protect employees from that.
      She was still uncomfortable and 1) did not believe me, 2) insisted the company could still fire you, because reasons.
      Just like OP’s parents are saying that even though the companies can’t discriminate against you for being pregnant, they can still consider you a liar and devious because reasons.
      It’s not an age thing, it’s a cultural thing.
      It’s very hard to undo what you’ve grown up doing.

      1. Allypopx*

        You’re right, but I don’t think it being an age thing and a cultural thing are mutually exclusive.

    5. Sue*

      This is a gross generalization and not at all fair. I am a boomer and am fully aware of and agree with all of Alison’s advice here. My millennial children don’t want to be stigmatized and you know what? I don’t either.
      Ignorance comes in all kinds of packages, it’s much better to recognize when you see it than to age-bias it into existence.

      1. rain*

        She’s referring to *her own* children. They will always be her children, even when they’re 50. It’s a relationship, not an age.

    6. SchuylerSeestra*

      I’ve gotten great work advice from Boomers and shit advice from folks my age. It’s not “boomers are out of touch”, it’s some people are using their experience in the market as advice.

      I will fully admit I hate the whole “ok boomer” mentality with 1000 flaming suns. It lacks nuance.

    7. PhyllisB*

      Can we not with the Boomer comments? You are (possibly) a millennial, and probably get sick of “entitled” comments made about your age group.
      I am a Boomer, but I stay current with business/career trends (and read this blog, of course!! :-) ) My children always consult me when they have questions, and if I’m not sure, I research before I give an answer.
      We’re not all dinosaurs!!

    8. Who Am I*

      That’s kind of ignoring the fact that there are many Boomers who won’t be retiring for years. I’m a Boomer (born 1963 – there are two years of Boomers younger than I am) and won’t be eligible to retire for 9 years. I don’t intend to retire for at least 12). We aren’t handing down that stale advice because we’re still in the working world and keeping up with what’s current. I think people like to ignore how young the youngest Boomers are, just like they like to ignore how old the oldest Millennials are. So perhaps not listen to a 75 year old Boomer (the oldest) who’s been out of the work force for 5-13 years – but a good chunk of us aren’t there yet.

    9. KayDeeAye*

      It was my Greatest Generation mother who told me to never disclose a pregnancy, but that’s because it was fully legal to discriminate against pregnant women when she was having babies. (She was actually pregnant with my older brother and was asked “When are you planning to start a family?” and she said, “Oh, not for a while yet,” and felt perfectly comfortable saying that since she in fact hadn’t “planned” to start a family right then, but these things happen. :-) )

      Look, some people are out of touch and some people aren’t. It really isn’t useful, IMO, to dismiss all advice from an entire (and eNORmous) demographic simply based on age. Not all Boomers are out of touch (many of us – yes, I am one – are still working, after all), not all Millennials are entitled, etc., etc. etc.

  6. Farragut*

    It’s not just about pregnant women now, either. I worked for a school with a very generous parental leave policy. One teacher started in September and then was out in October for three months on parental leave when his wife had their first child.

    1. Sharon*

      And what about parents who adopt? You can be on a list for years and then get a call that a baby is available for you immediately – so it’s possible to become a parent with NO notice.

      1. PollyQ*

        This exact thing happened to a colleague of mine while we were on a small team working towards a hard deadline. She thought she had more like 10-12 months, but no! Surprise baby! The rest of us muddled through just fine.

      2. Autumnheart*

        And gay parents could have a child, biologically or through adoption. Men should be able to take parental leave too.

        Basically, ANYONE could be preparing to have a kid, so while pregnant cis women are more “committed” vs “involved” (vis a vis the ham-and-eggs example), the practical considerations are the same. Employers shouldn’t be singling out pregnant women for discrimination on the basis of their perceived availability.

      3. KayDeeAye*

        That happened to a couple I know, too. She and her husband had, like, 2 hours’ notice. I believe they had the room more or less ready, and they may have had a car seat…but if so, that’s all they had, and they could of course give NO notice to employers. Instant parenthood! The other members of her team coped.

    2. Cat Tree*

      My company has started offering leave to all parents, and this goes a long way to reducing discrimination. Even though I’m a single mother so it doesn’t directly benefit me, it still helps in the long run by making it less of a factor (subconsciously) when hiring. The caveat is that the company has to actually be set up so that fathers can actually take the available leave, and my company has done a reasonably good job of that.

    3. Super Duper*

      This. Men take parental leave, people have babies via surrogate or adoption, and I believe it’s not uncommon for foster parents to get emergency placements.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        You make an excellent point with foster parents, as well. I know someone who fosters and she can get a call saying they have a kid that needs to be placed tonight. She does have things like the car seat and crib and some clothes and a pack or two of diapers. But she doesn’t have months of notice or anything. And somehow her employer has managed through just fine whenever she’s needed to leave to pick up a kid, or even take a few days off to get the kid settled.

  7. WonkyStitch*

    My company, in its flood of onboarding “must watch” videos for new hires, specifically includes an anti-discrimination video in which the pregnant woman is denied an internal promotion because she is pregnant. The video blatantly points out that it is discrimination and that the best person for the job should be hired, the end.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I was about four months’ pregnant when I advocated for a promotion. I waited until it went through before disclosing my pregnancy to anyone at work. I trusted my manager to handle things appropriately … but I still wouldn’t divulge info that could be used in any way to postpone the promotion I had earned.

      1. crchtqn2*

        Yep, literally the same story for me, got my promotion last week, company doesn’t know i’m pregnant yet, i was not going to risk it.

    2. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      I work for a union where they are hyper aware of discrimination issues that can affect their members, such as this one.

      Yet – and yet! – they turned down not one but two pregnant women who had applied for internal jobs (and interestingly around the same time). Both internal jobs were temporary (each about a year long) and therefore, in theory based on the policies, the employer could choose who they wanted despite the pregnant woman having more seniority (because seniority rules in unions).

      One filed a grievance and lost; the other did not. Had they been for permanent jobs within the company, the outcomes would have been very different.

      I feel the employer dropped the ball here on both of these because the optics are BAD. But from the hiring point of view, in one case, why take on the pregnant employee for only three months before they go for their maternity leave and the temporary job will be over long before they return from their maternity leave?

      (Come to think of it, the HR director behind those decisions is gone, “fired” after several instances of questionable behaviour…)

      (The one where I heard all the details, I know she wanted the experience and the bump in pay before her leave which would have resulted in a bigger EI payout during her leave (Canada). She was mightily upset by HR’s decision.)

  8. SpaceySteph*

    Yeah this part is not good at all:
    “if they had hired someone who turned out to be pregnant and then went on leave they would be very upset as the hiring manager and it would negatively color their view of the new employee”

    If it wouldn’t have made them less likely to hire the person (which it legally cannot) then there’s no reason to know or feel angry that they didn’t know. What other private medical/personal information do they feel they should be told prior to choosing who to hire? Should they have a survey about who has childcare constraints or ailing parents or cancer, too?

    1. Snailing*

      By her parent’s reasons, yes apparently – insert eyeroll here.

      My last boss was like this and when I became manager and started taking charge in hiring, I tried to move her away from this thinking and more toward “Can this person accommodate the working schedule we need and have reliable transportation/ability to do so?” versus asking why/why not when it wasn’t relevant at all.

      1. Despachito*

        Can this person accommodate the working schedule we need and have reliable transportation/ability to do so?”

        And if the answer for a pregnant person is NO? (this was my case for a bum-in-seat position)?

        1. Sal*

          Check with your HR rep! In general employment discrimination law, there is something called a BFOQ (bona fide occupational qualification) and you definitely want to get the lawyers involved if you’re thinking about not hiring someone/taking an adverse employment action because of something about the person that is related to a protected class under a non-discrimination statute (age, disability, race, ethnicity, gender, pregnancy). The lawyers certainly appreciate being asked on the front end and not just fielding the lawsuit after the fact.

        2. Snailing*

          We never had this pop up while I was there so I can’t guess – the only people that became pregnant were already employees and just worked as usual until they couldn’t/didn’t want to any more, albeit with more flexibility in terms of scheduling and what tasks they were doing. Though one coworker became pregnant maybe ~2 months after we hired her, unplanned, and my boss expressed some annoyance and I made a point to say that we would need to work around it because it was the right thing to do, and she backed down.

          We also were in food/hospitality/customer service, so there were physical requirements that needed to be met – for example, you need to work on your feet 90% of the day, carry things around the store up to a certain weight, and be able to work specific shifts (morning versus evening), so it was a bit different that bums in seats mentality.

        3. SpaceySteph*

          I’m pregnant now. If someone asked me this question I’d answer based on my current (and post-baby) availability. Is a 6-8 week leave really so significant it should disqualify me from the position entirely? I think there are VERY few roles in which this were actually true (although significantly more roles in which people THINK its true), and most pregnant people would select out of those as the OP did.

    2. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. We have someone whose health took a turn and they are unexpectedly out for months. You don’t always know what someone may need after hire. It’s a risk you take. You should hire them for their skills and not view them negatively based on something unrelated to their professionalism.

    3. Ruby*

      Right? Do they need someone’s cholesterol numbers too? At least with a pregnancy you have time to prepare for the absence.

  9. Not Pot Stirring*

    I just want to get some commenters thoughts. I am a childless female manager for reference.

    I 100% understand the idea of not wanting to discriminate against pregnant women and the idea of wanting to avoid unconscious bias. I’m all for that.

    However I do think the fact that someone is going to be out of the office for a couple of months in their first year (regardless of the reason) is something I would want to know because it may factor into my plans in a big way. I understand that OP wouldn’t say anything until they reached the offer stage, but as a hiring manager I would then worry about the impact that would have on my current team and the fact that I don’t think I would be able to pull the offer.

    I’m just thinking that when I have a new hire it takes about 2 months to train them minimum, and I’m usually hiring when I need people pretty quickly. If I put an offer out to someone and then found out they’d be going out right after I finished training them for another two months, it would be a problem. I wouldn’t be able to wait 6 months for my new person to be a somewhat functional member of my team.

    Any thoughts from the commenters? How have other managers handled this?

    1. Mental Lentil*

      It sounds like you are chronically understaffed or experience a lot of turnover. If that is the case, I would address that issue first, unless those things are typical for the sort of role for which you are hiring.

      That said, a lot of this depends on the sort of role this is.

      1. Not Pot Stirring*

        It’s not necessarily chronic understaffing or high turnover. It’s just a semi specialized role. Lots of people have the potential to be qualified, but there’s quite a bit of training, and I don’t need a huge amount of people in this role. When it’s a smaller team (think 2-3 people total) a manageable workload becomes unmanageable pretty quickly if one person is out.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          In that case, I would take a look at your processes to see if there’s anything that can be streamlined. Beyond that, how likely is it that some other people could be cross-trained on at least the basics of this role, to help take some of the heat off when a person is out? Because as others in this thread have pointed out, you’re going to have people out for lots of reasons other than pregnancy.

          In a small organization, cross-training is an absolute must. In this case, it may be helpful to have a few other people who can come in and lend a hand from time to time to ensure they keep their skills for this particular role sharp.

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          Not sure how your team’s work is structured, but it sounds like your team would benefit from some cross-training. Is there another team that can spare a person or two even part time to cover gaps (e.g. during hiring and training a new hire, or when your team members are on vacation or leave)? Or maybe hire someone to take on all lower-level tasks within the team to lighten the overall load on the thoroughly trained staff? Life happens and it’s the employer’s job to plan appropriately for such times—‘becomes unmanageable pretty quickly if one person is out’ tells me the team needs some better planning in place somehow. I’m sure you (in consultation with others if needed) can figure out a workable, non-discriminatory strategy!

          1. Not Pot Stirring*

            We do cross train, but it’s pretty technical work that takes a while to get up to speed.

            I guess reading the comments what I’m realizing is that my concern has a lot more to do with the idea of burdening my team (or in the scenario you’ve pointed out another team) for someone who has no history with us, for something that is not an emergency.

            I think if I had a new hire that came in for three months and then had an emergency situation people would be more sympathetic and more willing to pitch in to get through it. I can see it breeding a lot of frustration though if the person knows in advance.

            I think this is especially true for childless employees like myself who often get asked to pitch in or take less desirable shifts/vacation dates in deference to those with kids.

            1. AVP*

              I would also really try not to see this as “not an emergency.” Unless you’re hiring people in their very early 20’s, we do have expiration dates on this stuff and pregnancies can be difficult to plan and conceive in the best of times. Granted, you have lots of warning, but when it’s happening it’s not like you can slow it down or put it off, and your body truly is in ‘medical emergency’ recovery mode for awhile after birth.

            2. Double A*

              But unlike with emergencies, with a pregnancy you get some warning, even if it’s just a month or so before the person is out. So maybe really dig into why an emergency seems fine, but a pregnancy seems like a burden. Is it because pregnancy seems like a choice? I mean, it is on an individual level but not on societal level of we want the human race to continue.

              1. Not Pot Stirring*

                Only thinking of it as a burden for a new employee, not someone who has been here a while and who is trained. Mostly because I can deal without someone for two months, I can’t deal without someone for 6.

                1. SpaceySteph*

                  Are you in the US? 6 month maternity leave would be really long in the US. 2-3 months is more reasonable, especially for someone without the benefit of a lot of accrued leave.

            3. Librarian of SHIELD*

              If your worry is that it will cause frustration or ill will in the other employees, as a leader, it’s on you to handle that. You, as the person in charge, need to model the behavior you want to see in your staff, and if you hear any gossip or grumbling about the new person being out on medical leave, it’s your job to shut it down.

              Pregnancy and disability discrimination isn’t just about whether or not you hire somebody, it’s also about how you allow that person to be treated by their coworkers once they’ve been hired. Your job as a manager is to prevent discrimination against your employees. Full stop.

              1. Allypopx*

                Yes, and on that topic you (Not Pot Stirring) seem to have some personal biases against people with kids you need to examine. I’m also 30 and childless, I hear you, I’ve experienced it – but it’s your job as a manager to create the environment on your team and if you’re sending resentful vibes around this subject, explicit or implicit, people are going to pick up on them.

            4. Pocket Mouse*

              Burdening your team: Right, so it would benefit everybody to find a way to avoid burdening your team when life happens. That requires planning, and recognizing that perhaps for someone else it *wouldn’t* be a burden— maybe someone on another team would love to get cross-trained and be well suited to move to your team permanently if and when the opportunity arises, and in that case you’d have a new hire you wouldn’t have to train for two months because voila, they’re already trained! But again, life happens, and it shouldn’t be up to individual staffers to be sympathetic and (therefore more) willing to pitch in.

              Also, it sound like you may have some complicated personal feelings around considerations parents get that you, as a non-parent, don’t seem to get. There are a number of past letters and comments sections discussing issues around this, which you may find helpful to read through. But you don’t get to leverage these feelings to adversely affect someone else’s job prospects when life happens. You have the opportunity *right now* in this very moment to get creative and make a better plan.

            5. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              I think you need to examine your perceptions around pregnant people and working moms. Your phrasing of pregnancy/childbirth as “not an emergency” raises flags that you see it as a choice, and a poor choice at that, one that deems the pregnant person as a worse employee who needs to work harder to “prove themselves” because they dared to have a family. I would suspect that you are allowing your unconscious (or conscious?) bias to creep into your management of employees who have been or become pregnant.

            6. Liz T*

              What do you mean by “not an emergency?” It’s not like an already-pregnant person can just choose to delay the birth by six months to make things easier on their employer.

            7. Yelm*

              The problem here is mindset. I am not a parent, either, but there is such a thing as the social contract. People are going to have children, they are going to get sick, they are going to be hit by cars, they are going to have mental health problems, etc. and a well-functioning society should be organized to support reality. If a company is organized in such a way that the vicissitudes of actual life will significantly impair it’s ability to function, what is needed is culture shift. If your work protocols will go to hell if someone is out for maternity leave, your work protocols are out of adjustment with reality.

            8. LizB*

              If your team’s workload is only manageable when you are 100% fully staffed, then yeah, you are in fact understaffed. Someone needing extended time off work is a “known unknown” – it’s not going to be the case all the time, but you can assume it’s going to happen at some point, and you shouldn’t be relying on the goodwill or sympathy of your employees to make it workable when it does inevitably happen. If your work is so essential that the business can’t run without it and so difficult that other departments can’t do it even with cross-training, then you need to be staffed up such that your team can weather a 2-month+ stint of being one person down without workloads becoming unmanageable. Maybe that comes in the form of a part-timer, or someone who’s .5 in your department and .5 in another department. If that’s not possible, acceptable alternatives include things like dealing with fine-but-not-great work from cross-trained people as they navigate the learning curve, stretching out deadlines or dropping non-essential responsibilities from your team’s plate, offloading less technical tasks to a temp or a cross-trained person so your team can focus on the more technical coverage, or taking on some amount of the coverage work yourself. Discriminating against pregnant people is not among the options.

              1. Stitching Away*


                There was a time when I was on a team that was hiring for a new position, and we were debating how many people we needed for full coverage. The initial proposition was for two. This was a position where if there was a gap in coverage, there would a problem.

                I said, so, if we have exactly the coverage we need with 2 full time people, what happens when they take vacation, nevermind get sick? We need 2 full time and a part timer, at minimum.

                You always need a little extra. And you always need to have systems in place so if anyone gets hit by a bus, you can continue to function.

                1. Mints*

                  Yes, my current job has generous vacation, and I think that feeds into how easy it is to cover for extended absences. It’s a situation where good employers can easily be better employers. If a childfree coworker likes to save all her vacation for three week international trips, and that’s totally normal and easy to cover because there’s adequate staffing, it makes it easier to cover for somebody’s two month surgery recovery, or 8 month paternity leave. We’re all used to it. I feel like people are out on vacation all the time, (in comparison to previous cash strapped organizations), and it’s almost never a problem. People also get good at having operating procedures, OOO messaging, calendaring, etc.

              2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                These are great suggestions. I’d add an option of building a network of independent contractors for times when you need coverage or just additional capacity for the specialized work. I know you said there’s specialized training, so that makes me think there are likely contractors who have thought of taking advantage of that needed niche.

                1. Despachito*

                  I’d be more than happy to serve as one! (And happy to finish when the person in question comes back)! It would give me the variety I prefer to a permanent position.

          2. Velawciraptor*

            I have to agree. If your workload “becomes unmanageable pretty quickly if one person is out,” how do you function when people go on vacation? When they get sick? If someone quits or dies?

            Staffing levels have to account for the fact that you don’t have 100% of your staff all of the time because employees are humans and because your employees have the right to use the benefits (annual leave, sick time, etc.) that they earn through their employment. If a team cannot function if someone is out, it’s understaffed.

        3. kicking_k*

          In the UK, it’s totally normal for someone to be out for a year … so the normal thing is to hire someone as maternity cover.

          That said, I wouldn’t (didn’t) apply for a new job when I was pregnant because I wouldn’t have worked there long enough to qualify for the year’s leave/having the job held open for you; you legally need to be in post a year before the due date.

        4. Firecat*

          Eh. I’m on a 4 person team and just had 2 staff members out for 2 weeks. Workloads can be balanced even on small teams. Plus how big of a difference for planning purposes does it make if you know employee will need a few months out post hire vs pre hire? Does that extra couple days really make or break planning that is months out? Highly unlikely.

    2. Allypopx*

      What would you do if you hired someone who simply didn’t work out? Someone who got seriously ill in their first couple of months? Suffered a serious personal loss and wasn’t able to function at 100%? Didn’t get up to speed in your projected timeline? Left for another job?

      These are all risks in hiring you have to be prepared for. In this particular instance it may be a short term burden on your existing team, you may need to pull some extra weight, maybe you need to bring in temporary help – but whatever the solution that makes sense for your particular team you kinda just need to roll with the punches.

    3. Pony Puff*

      Well that’s the point, isn’t it? You wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with maternity leave if you could avoid it, and all things being equal you probably would choose the candidate who is not pregnant, so it’s in the pregnant person’s best interest not to disclose it.

      1. Another health care worker*

        Yeah, this thread seems to just come full circle back to the original letter and its answer. All employers probably believe that their specific work flow makes it uniquely hard to accommodate maternity leave. Most would probably prefer to avoid hiring a pregnant candidate (despite such discrimination being illegal). This is why the candidate would not disclose her pregnancy.

        1. Heather*

          And in the US, the reasons it is such a burden (lack of staffing, refusal to hire a temp) affect those who have no power to change the situation. It’s those at the top expecting those below to work harder and longer to pick up the slack rather than pony up the money to fix the situation. Let those in the middle and on the bottom fight one another to maintain profits.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            This was my take away. Why is lack of staffing always the problem of the employee? It should be the problem of management. If your business model relies on people being so generous and caring of their coworkers, more caring and generous than you the employer are–you’re gonna have a bad time.

    4. Snailing*

      I think if you frame pregnancy like you would any other type of medical occurrence, it can help a lot. You could easily hire someone and they hit by a car and need a month or two or recovery in their first year. Or hire someone who need to take leave to care for a sick parent or sick child.

      Life happens and your business needs to be prepared to handle swings like an employee needing to take leave for a few months for a medical issue (which is exactly what pregnancy is).

      1. Not Pot Stirring*

        I was framing it in my mind like a medical issue actually, but more like someone who needed a scheduled surgery with a long recovery. In my mind it’s very different from an emergency or surprise medical occurrence because you know it’s happening and you know it’s coming. If I knew I needed to hire someone and they then told me “oh by the way, I need some shoulder surgery in 3 months, and it’s an 8 week recovery” I’d be just as put out.

        1. Allypopx*

          But I think y0u should frame it as a *good* thing that you know ahead of time. Get hit by a bus, out for 8 weeks – you have no time to plan for it. At least in this case you have lead time to figure out what you’re going to do.

          1. quill*

            Yes, documenting and training ahead of time is a lot easier than catching up after someone has to be out for an unknown period of time and hasn’t had the ability to pre-plan.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          Yeah, but that means you wouldn’t want to hire someone with a medical problem which has its own problematic issues around it.

          No one likes being shortstaffed, but humans have human problems and human conditions. If your dream candidate, male and with a clean bill of health, gets hit by a bus one week into the job, you’re still going to have to be flexible and deal with this.

          (I am also childless and a cis-woman, FWIW.)

        3. Redd*

          If you’re in an area where insurance is tied to employment and feel put out that someone isn’t disclosing their way out of a job due to an upcoming medical procedure, you might want to take a moment to consider the potential ramifications there

          1. Despachito*

            This is so very true.

            I now realize how lucky we are here because our insurance does not depend on our employers (they are bound by law to pay an amount depending on your salary to the health insurance company of your choice, and if you are unemployed, the state pays it for you)

        4. Littorally*

          Pregnancy isn’t particularly scheduled, though. People often get pregnant unexpectedly — or, conversely, try for years before it happens. Would you expect a first-year employee with an unplanned pregnancy to get an abortion so as not to inconvenience your business?

          1. Not Pot Stirring*

            No, but that person would have time to be trained and be useful to the team. OP is 6 months pregnant, which means they’re going on leave in 3 months. That’s not enough time for someone to gain all the skills they need for the job.

        5. Starbuck*

          “If I knew I needed to hire someone and they then told me “oh by the way, I need some shoulder surgery in 3 months, and it’s an 8 week recovery” I’d be just as put out.”

          But why? That’s not ok either.

        6. Liz T*

          Are you saying you’d be more put out by someone having scheduled surgery than someone being, say, hit by a car? I just don’t understand why on earth that would be. In your mind, is the person who needs surgery to blame for their surgery? Should they not have surgery, or delay their surgery? I don’t get how it’s worse for you than losing that same employee unexpectedly.

        7. rl09*

          “If I knew I needed to hire someone and they then told me “oh by the way, I need some shoulder surgery in 3 months, and it’s an 8 week recovery” I’d be just as put out.”

          But…what would the alternative be? You’d rather your employee delay their surgery and prioritize the job over their own health?

          Would you personally delay a surgery that you needed because it would inconvenience your boss? If so, maybe you should reevaluate your relationship with your employer because that seems really toxic.

        8. Eye roll*

          And? You’re “put out” by employees needing things like recovery time from surgery, pregnancy, etc. You’re probably also “put out” when they have the nerve to have someone close get sick or die and take them away from work. Feel how you want, but it’s literally your job to see that your employees are treated like human beings, with bodies and brains and needs, and not widgets in a factory. If normal events (which these times away from work *are*) derail your company and workload, you are understaffed and poorly organized.

        9. lemon meringue*

          Are you saying you’d prefer if the candidate disclosed their upcoming surgery/pregnancy during the interview? The only advantage there is if you’d like the freedom to discriminate against them. Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to make sure you’re not overly influenced by that knowledge.

        10. TaraGreen*

          My father after several years of being unemployed/partially employed got a job with good health insurance. He knew when applying, during the interview process, and after being accepted that he had a serious but semi-stable medical condition that needed to be addressed with surgery (within the year), and that would require all of his accumulated paid sick leave and vacation time (for 1 year’s work) for recovery. He did not disclose any of this until approximately a month before his surgery, after they had worked there long enough to earn the sick leave etc.

          And you know what – the argument could be made that this was unethical behavior, but this behavior resulted in steady employment before and after the surgery (Which was incredibly necessary for my family to crawl out of the financial pit we had been in). If my father’s workplace had known when he interviewed, that he was sick there is every chance they would not have hired him. I have a lot more sympathy for my father trying to afford a critical surgery and feeding his family than i do the institution which had to make do with a temp for a few months during his recovery period.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Seriously. I have a hard time calling out someone’s ‘unethical’ behavior when the system is stacked against them.

            In the perfect world, he could have disclosed that illness and it wouldn’t have mattered a fig. But here we are, and he did what he needed to do to survive. Can’t fault him for that.

          2. Ali + Nino*

            I’m so sorry your family had to experience this but I definitely agree that your dad did what was best for him and for his family. Honestly, I don’t think it was unethical – he still gave them a month’s notice. It’s more than possible that someone could find out about a surgery just a month out, isn’t it? And life (at least at the office) would go on.

            1. TaraGreen*

              Thank you for your kind words. In fact he accidentally wound up giving them almost two month’s notice because after he gave them the heads up the surgeon had to push the surgery a couple of weeks due to a scheduling conflict. And the office did in fact manage ok without him for that time period, because the person he replaced (who had retired) agreed to come back on a part-time basis to cover the most essential aspects of his workload. Like you said – offices adapt.

        11. Forrest*

          Years ago I saw someone say that tech companies should treat abuse on social networks the way that meat processors and manufacturers treat meat going off. The problem isn’t “how do we get meat from A to B”, it’s “how do we get meat from A to B when meat goes off– do we can it, freeze it, dry it or salt it?” Meat going off isn’t an inconvenience or an after-thought– it’s literally the job.

          I think that’s what you’re doing here. You are treating the work-problem as “how do I get X work done”, but it’s actually, “how do I ensure that X work gets done BY PEOPLE who have bodies and private lives”. That’s the job! Your job isn’t to manage for the best possible situation with three robots who almost never break down. Your job is to manage people, and people have babies, go on sick leave, have surgery, find themselves in the middle of a global pandemic, have mental health problems, go on holiday, get selected for the Olympics, want to take a honeymoon, have partners who get jobs in another state– literally your job is to figure out how to get the work done whilst all those things happen, not to treat them as inconvenient barriers to getting the work done.

          Right now, you are responding to all the practical suggestions like, “You don’t have enough coverage, can you cross-train someone from another department” with reasons why you’re justified in being annoyed with the hypothetical pregnant employee. What if you reframed it from, “My job is to find reliable robots who can be trained in two months and then provide a minimum of 10 months productive labour” to “My job is to ensure the work will get done even though sometimes one of my robots is unavailable for 2-8 weeks”? What would you do differently?

        12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          You are thinking of shoulder surgery as elective though – like you can just delay it or not have it. Which is wrong. But would you refuse to hire someone who had colon cancer and needed abdominal surgery with an 8 week recovery?

    5. Duckles*

      Exactly, if you’re hiring someone in most roles you need someone ASAP— not two to three months after the start date would be (and not a lot of point starting to train someone for only a few weeks when they’ll then go on such a long leave). There are certainly jobs where it could be possible— replacing someone with a flexible retirement, etc— but in an average hiring process it would be a bad start.

      1. Me*

        “There are certainly jobs where it could be possible”

        This line of thinking needs to stop. It’s possible at all jobs because it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnancy.

        All employers for all jobs need to factor the possibility that a new hire may be out for a length of time. It’s not optional.

    6. anonymouse*

      I am asking with sincerity here, because I feel your question…How does one not factor in pregnancy if you know about it?
      You are already looking at the short term leave this person will take. That’s 100% factoring in pregnancy.
      If someone interviews and is visibly pregnant and the hiring team has a conversation that determines hiring this person will cause a hardship to the department when she is out for maternity leave, that’s 100% factoring it in.
      How is this navigated?

      1. Me*

        You better have a real good reason for not hiring them other than their pregnancy.

        If it’s being discussed as a reason to not hire them? Congrats, that’s illegal.

        Realistically are pregnant woman still discriminated against? Yes. But part of continuing to is to push back.

        You don’t consider it. You don’t discuss it. You discuss their merits as a candidate the same as any other. Can they do the job and are they the best person for the job based on their skills.

        1. anonymouse*

          Thank you.
          This is exactly what I was trying to figure out. I kept tripping over “but, but, but.”
          But simply: It is not discussed.
          Which goes back to OP and her parents.
          If it not going to be discussed, then it is not “dishonest” not to bring it up.
          It should be a non-issue and her parents saying “yeah, but…” is indicative of them thinking only that it is, but that it’s ok.

    7. Milennielle*

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that maternity leave isn’t inconvenient for employers, especially with a new hire. Of course it is! Sometimes it’s massively inconvenient.

      But you still can’t not offer someone a job because of pregnancy or pull a job offer because you learn the person is pregnant. That is literally pregnancy discrimination and exactly why pregnant women don’t disclose earlier. (The fact that you would want to know about leave regardless of the reason doesn’t make it less discriminatory–the other reasons people might need extended leave may or may not be legally protected).

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I don’t think anyone is suggesting that maternity leave isn’t inconvenient for employers, especially with a new hire. Of course it is! Sometimes it’s massively inconvenient.

        Layoffs and firings can be inconvenient to employees. Sometimes massively inconvenient. By this logic, employers shouldn’t be allowed to lay off or fire employees… Would the Parents endorse the same thinking when they’re on the other end of the deal?

        1. Milennielle*

          I don’t understand this comment. The point was: yes, pregnancy/parental is inconvenient to employers. It doesn’t matter BECAUSE you are not allowed to discriminate against employees because of pregnancy. The law says, suck it up. Deal with it (same, btw, with disability accommodations that are inconvenient but don’t rise to the level of undue hardship). We as a society decided that burden should be on employers, not individual employees.

          Layoffs/terminations are legal, provided it’s not because of race/sex/disability/etc.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I’m agreeing with you and pointing out how insane the logic gets as soon as we shuffle the roles each party plays.

            It only sounds reasonable to OP’s parents because they’re thinking as the party that’s inconvenienced. Well, what happens when it’s the employee’s inconveniences that are the important ones?

            1. Milennielle*

              Ah, I got you now! I thought you were making a comment about parents/pregnant people generally (and suggesting that accommodating them leads to absurd conclusions), not about OP’s parents. Yes, completely agree. The logic of “this is inconvenient for me therefore I shouldn’t be obligated to do it” is silly and, as you pointed out, not something embraced by employers.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                Apologies it didn’t come across as intended the first time, and thank you for giving me a chance to rephrase it.

              2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                I appreciated reading this back and forth, because it was a good reminder how we can each interpret and percieve things differently than intended. A good foundation for training one’s capacity for empathy.

    8. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      But what if you hire someone and they get diagnosed with cancer a month later and have to be out for two months? So so many things interrupt our plans at work. A pregnancy shouldn’t be any different than getting hit by a bus in terms of business response.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And that happens — many years ago i heard of a new hire who crashed on the way home from his first Friday happy hour. He was way over the legal limit too…he did not come back.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          A good reason to hire a pregnant person! Way less likely to drive home drunk and get into a car accident. (Not impossible but…)

    9. mediamaven*

      It’s tough but there’s really nothing you can do. I hired someone in leadership who was 7 months pregnant and she went on paid maternity leave and the day she was supposed to return to work she didn’t show and I never saw her again. It’s definitely a gamble but I also feel for women because it’s a challenge that men will never have.

      1. lee*

        I had a team of 12 and at one point three of the women were pregnant. They all promised to come back after their maternity leave and after they gave birth they all quit–it was frustrating because we couldn’t hire replacements for them while they were gone and it burdened the rest of the team. I suspect that two of them knew they were going to quit.
        So I get it.
        I’m curious — in an interview, can you ask a candidate if there are any factors that might affect their ability to perform the duties over, say, the next six months?

        1. louvella*

          Well if you asked that and they said “yes, I’m pregnant so will need to take maternity leave” then it would be illegal to consider that in hiring them, so what would be the purpose of asking?

          1. Le Sigh*

            In addition to your point, it might make some candidates feel like you’re trying sniff out a medical condition that’s none of the business — pregnancy, or perhaps figuring out if they have chronic conditions, are going through cancer treatment, etc.

    10. Liz*

      Here are my thoughts (as a Millennial female who is actually covering for someone on maternity leave right now):

      An extended absence can happen to anyone. While knowing that someone is pregnant makes the absence more of a certainty than a possibility, the risk is present in any industry that employs humans. The advantage of maternity leave is that, in most cases, it can be planned around. A car accident, debilitating stroke, or heart attack can’t.

      And (as the spouse of a retail manager) I completely understand that having one person out for an extended period can throw a huge wrench in things and put a burden on other staff. But I attribute this more to (many) employers operating with a skeleton staff and failing to hire enough people to provide coverage; not hiring pregnant women (or women of childbearing age) isn’t going to solve it.

      1. Not Pot Stirring*

        I slightly disagree with your premise though. You absolutely can plan around maternity leave with an established, trained employee. You can’t really do it the same way with a new hire. I don’t have an unlimited budget or time to go out and hire and train additional staff.

        When I hire someone it’s because that team needs someone because their workload is going to become unmanageable. I’m trying to imagine how I would feel if my manager came up to me and said “oh hey we’re going to get this new person in, and we’re going to train them and then they’re going to leave for two months. So basically you have to take on more work for this person you don’t know/have any history with, because our budget has been eaten up and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

        It wouldn’t make sense for me to hire 2 people if we only have enough work for 1 and with a longer training period temporary help isn’t really an option.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          Wow, it sounds like your team’s workload is just barely manageable now when they are fully staffed.

          Are you sure you aren’t understaffed? Is there any way that some of their work can be shifted to another department? Can you hire someone to work dual roles, with the flexibility to spend more time wherever it is needed?

          1. Liz*

            Agree that this sounds like a staffing problem more than a maternity leave problem. Again, the “just hired–gonna be out for two months–crap, we’re screwed” could just as easily involve a non-pregnancy medical issue, and most of those don’t have tidy two-month end dates.

            And to add onto the hypothetical, there are some pregnant people who don’t find out they’re pregnant until the baby starts coming out… wondering how the “it’s unfair not to tell us” crowd comes down on that.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              I was thinking about this. My mother didn’t know she was pregnant with my brother until she was four months pregnant. I had a friend who didn’t know until she was six months pregnant. What were they supposed to do? You don’t always know you’re pregnant the very moment you become pregnant. So what if I get hired in in this situation, don’t know I’m pregnant, and then give birth?

              The situation remains the same, and it’s not like I was intentionally withholding information.

          2. Delia K*

            I work on a small team – there’s four of us plus my manager. We’re not at all understaffed but if someone is out, we notice it – it’s a quarter of our team, how could we not? If someone is out for a day or even a week, we can pretty easily pull together to cover (albeit with an increased workload for the rest of us and them coming back to a backlog of emails) but two months is quite a bit.

            That said, I just planned a three week vacation and didn’t get any pushback. I know it will impact my team though, and I think it’s disingenuous to act like someone being out for two months won’t impact a small team.

            1. Beany*

              Alison’s response at the top of the page includes the footnote: “Note that that the law doesn’t apply to employers under 15 employees, so those aren’t the ones we’re talking about here.”

              To me this implies that small companies are allowed to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy precisely because they’re not large enough to absorb wild swings in employee availability.

              Now a small *team* inside a decent-sized company is a bit different. Presumably they’d be expected to transfer/share someone from a different team to fill the gaps.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              No one is acting like the team won’t be impacted. Of course they will. And they will find a way to deal with it, because they have to.

        2. AVP*

          In the end, thats really what it comes down to – your budget. You have to hire a temp to navigate this, and you don’t want to, because it’s expensive and you’d rather spend that somewhere else. Everyone gets that. Because we can all acknowledge that this is a trade-off we want to make in theory but is inconvenient in practice, they made laws around it that are annoying to comply with but, overall, good for humanity. Because frankly lots of people would just rather push it off to other people to deal with otherwise! And then there wouldn’t be babies / we would have an all-male workforce.

        3. Starbuck*

          The problem is that you are framing it as taking on more work for the EMPLOYEE who is out. That’s wrong. It’s your EMPLOYER who is asking you to do that work. So it’s on them to find a way to make it happen – more budget, staff time, etc. Their failure to do that isn’t the fault of the human who is doing human necessities.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Or accept a reduced output if the EMPLOYER isn’t willing to keep the team staffed well enough that one person being out isn’t causing serious issues.

        4. Yelm*

          I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be aggressive, but you do not get it. People get to procreate and be accommodated by their workplace, even if it makes things inconvenient or very difficult. You seem to think that getting pregnant is some kind luxurious personal choice that employers just have to eat, and that that is unfair to the company. No. Getting pregnant (or otherwise making a family) is the literal foundation of every society. It is EVERY BIT as important as work, and a healthy society should support families because the welfare of parents and children is good for EVERYONE. I am not a parent. I still believe it is my ethical and civic duty to support parents, because the health and welfare of a society’s children is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            Just to make another point, the human race is no where close to extinction Having a child and parenting said child is a choice. And you are a bit overblown with stating “the welfare of parents and children is good for EVERYONE. No, not in reality. Because we take care of A doesn’t mean B.C. and D have it easier or are better off. Should society help people who choose to have children? Sure–as long as they are helping those who choose not to have children just as well.

            1. Yelm*

              If you don’t think the that welfare of the future generation is good for society, you are not someone I know how to communicate with.

            2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              I think there have been some rumblings recently among economists about the upcoming problems from shrinking populations and birth rates. That may or may not shift your thinking.

        5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          That doesn’t make any sense. A new hire who’s not fully trained wouldn’t be covering a full workload because they aren’t fully trained. So it’s be easier for experienced staff to cover a new hire (and resume the training when the person returns) than for a new hire to cover the leave of an experienced person (who may have been doing more than a full workload in an understaffed place). I think you think it’s emotionally nicer to cover for someone you know – but for a workload standpoint, this actually makes no sense. A new, not fully trained hire is going to be the least valuable member of the team (doing work-wise) and most easy to cover for.

    11. Evan*

      I understand it’s frustrating — in fact, discriminating may be the rational, self-interested thing to do — but we’ve decided as a society that you as a manager have to bear that pain so that pregnant women can receive equal treatment from employers.

      As for your options:
      – hire a temp
      – hire a contractor
      – be short staffed

    12. Cant remember my old name*

      I hope this doesn’t come off as catty (because I hate when the comment section gets like that), but you say you totally get wanting to avoid bias against pregnant women, and the proceed to describe the ways in which you would be biased against said women. To answer your question, employees may take unexpected leave for a variety of reasons, so you should consider building in processes and maybe hiring more staff to make sure you can handle those instances because…life happens.

    13. OP Here*

      I think that what I take away from this comment is that you, as the hiring manager, are going to keep your best interests at heart when hiring (whether that results in illegal discrimination or not), so therefore I, as the applicant, should also only keep MY best interests at heart (even if that results in your having a difficult onboarding where I am out for a few weeks). It seems a little bit of a combative way to approach a new working relationship, but I don’t see any other way pregnant women can look out for their own self interests since employers insist on doing the same – we’ve all gotta eat!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


        And I have to admit to schadenfreude when the person who was hired instead of me because of false assumptions (in that case not illegal/discriminatory, just mistaken) quit without notice on day one.

      2. Not Pot Stirring*

        And I totally get that!

        You’re not wrong, although I don’t think of it as looking out for my best interest as an employer but rather the best interest of the team I have already employed. You seem to think I’m looking for a reason not to hire someone because they’re pregnant. What I’d be trying to do as a hiring manager is hire the best person to meet the needs I have at that time. If you need to be out that soon after training (for any reason) you wouldn’t meet my team’s needs.

        As other commenters have pointed out emergencies happen, but this isn’t an emergency or something sudden, this is a thing you know about.

        I guess what I’m saying is that you absolutely need to do what you need to do to protect yourself and your best interests. You’ve got to make a living and you’ve got to eat! But you also have to realize (depending on the job and environment) you’re also possibly not getting off to the best start with your new coworkers.

        1. Allypopx*

          But again you as a manager need to MANAGE that.

          As I said elsewhere this just happened at my company. It’s a huge inconvenience. But my boss is making a huge point to tell people – the employee did the right thing. We’ll be okay. It’s a short term set back. It’s great we can start on the right foot by supporting her, that will make her a strong part of the team in the long term.

          Does she believe any of that? Dunno. Maybe not. But she’s setting the tone for the whole office.

        2. Firecat*

          And that’s on them to manage their feelings. Not on pregnant emlyee to make them feel better about her pregnancy.

          Yeesh you remind me of the coworkers who went off on me the day I returned from emergency surgery because I didn’t properly acknowledge how hard it was FOR THEM the moment I walked back in the door.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            I’m recalling my difficult birth that ended in me needing a psychiatric hospitalization.

            When I returned to work, someone had the gall to call it a ‘vacation’ and talk about how hard it was for the rest of them.

        3. Loli*

          I get the feeling that your unstated belief here is that pregnant people should not apply for jobs, they should keep their current jobs or wait until they’ve had a child and recovered fully to enter the workforce.

        4. Pool Lounger*

          “…possibly not getting off to the best start with new coworkers.”

          Or, not with YOU as a coworker. My response as a coworker when people went out on baby leave was to be happy for them, and if there were issues that was on the company to hire a temp, cross-train, or redistribute work. I don’t have kids myself but I think the world is a better place when we don’t discriminate against people for having kids and when companies let people have guilt free time off for medical and personal reasons. Not all workers feel as you do.

            1. Redd*

              Same! It covers everything: adoptive parents, recovery for a surrogate or someone placing the child for adoption, fathers and mothers and non-binary parents of all flavors. If you need leave cause there’s a baby, it’s baby leave.

        5. Joielle*

          I am also a 30-something happily childfree woman who does not intend to have kids ever. And look – there are two competing priorities here, and we as a society have decided (and codified into law) that the more important one is not discriminating against pregnant people in hiring. The inconvenience to the employer/manager/team is the less important one. That’s just something everyone needs to deal with.

          You’re the manager, so it’s your job to manage the team. That includes modeling appropriate reactions in this situation and ensuring that the pregnant team member is treated well by their coworkers.

          You are literally saying that a pregnant person would not meet your team’s needs, full stop. That is exactly the discrimination that the law is intended to prevent. You should do some work on unlearning that.

          1. Sparrow*

            As another 30-something, happily child-free woman, I fully agree with your response. And it would absolutely be part of OP’s job to ensure that the employees don’t treat the new employee poorly because of this.

        6. FridayFriyay*

          But that’s… illegal. You’re openly admitting that you’d engage in illegal activity to protect the “interests” of your existing team?

          1. Eden*

            Yes this thread is wild! It’s the pregnancy-discrimination version of “I’m not racist but…” Thread OP hasn’t really said anything that doesn’t boil down to “pregnancy discrimination is good actually”.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              I’m having flashbacks to the last party I went to before Covid where a guy was complaining that his team was mostly women and nearly all of them had had a baby and gone on leave at some point recently (which I would agree is unfortunate timing-wise, and have had to deal with similar timing once or twice over the years. It happens! You make a couple jokes about “something in the water” and then deal with it). But then he spent like 15 minutes complaining about how his boss wouldn’t pay him more than all the women who had to go on leave because it was illegal and trying to get all of the women at the party to agree with him that he should have been paid more. It was so gross.

              I tried to diplomatically say that at my company our bonuses are based on a formula where your review factors into the amount you get so if you had to temporarily take on extra work to cover coworkers on leave and you did a good job with it that could be reflected in your review and therefore in your bonus. And he said that was how it worked at his company too. I tried to say that it sounded like the real issues were that he feels his review should reflect his work better and the company should do a better job hiring temporary help where needed, rather than paying a man on the team more than women specifically because the women took maternity leave.

              (I really don’t like this guy and don’t understand why all my friends think he is just the nicest dude ever, ugh)

        7. Pocket Mouse*

          “I don’t think of it as looking out for my best interest as an employer but rather the best interest of the team I have already employed.“

          You (collectively, your employer) thinks it’s in your/their best interest to have one fewer person on your team than would be needed to adequately cover the work when life happens. Honestly, what if the thought in your head was “It would be in our best interest to have one additional person on the team all the time so we would never be burdened by someone taking leave” instead? Reframing can be hard or uncomfortable, but your employer is currently choosing to burden your team periodically instead of paying one extra salary (or comparable other solution). It’s a decision—and perspective—that can be changed. If the burden bothers you that much, non-discriminatory solutions exist and you can find them if you look for them.

        8. Ann Perkins*

          It’s awfully short-sighted though to only hire for “the best person to meet the needs I have at that time”. If this is such a specialized role that it’s difficult to cross train for, that means you should place a high priority on low turnover. And if you treat a pregnant employee turned working parent with respect and fairness, they tend to be loyal because sadly not every employer would do that. Assuming you’re in the US, an 8-12 week leave is really a blip in a person’s overall career.

        9. Starbuck*

          What you are saying is that you feel entitled to discriminate against pregnant women. Which is pretty gross. Hey Allison, maybe we could cut it off here? I feel like I don’t usually see other threads debating over “I really want to discriminated against people with a protected status, here’s how and why I feel my illegal discrimination is ok actually.”

        10. Liz T*

          “You’re not wrong, although I don’t think of it as looking out for my best interest as an employer but rather the best interest of the team I have already employed.”

          -FYI this is a distinction without a difference.

          “You seem to think I’m looking for a reason not to hire someone because they’re pregnant.”

          -No, I think everyone gets what you’re saying. You think it would be inconvenient for you to hire a pregnant person, and you’re more worried about that inconvenience than about the impact to women/society as a whole of pregnancy discrimination, to the point that you’re ignoring suggestions of how you could keep it from being a convenience.

          Because what you’re also ignoring is the categorial imperative. What if all employers behaved as you [would like to] behave, and no one hired pregnant people, for the reasons you list? Have you thought about the impact that would have–HAS had–on society as a whole? Remember that you can’t always tell when someone’s pregnant, so many employers have historically assumed that women of child-bearing age, and particularly young married women, are a risk entirely. What has society missed out on because of this kind of discriminatory behavior? What have businesses lost because of the short-term thinking you describe? “We might lose you for 8 weeks here or there, so we’re going to pass on your entire career.”

          It’s just not good for ANYONE.

        11. Former Young Lady*

          I appreciate your concern for the well-being of your staff and your reluctance to overwork them.

          As someone who has spent the last three or four years on chronically-understaffed small teams, could I offer you some perspective?

          Many others have pointed out, and you have correctly acknowledged, that a short-handed crew will struggle to provide coverage for any medical or family emergency leave.

          What I think you’re still missing is that the relatively predictable timeline of an undisclosed pregnancy is not a conflict of interest between a well-qualified new hire and her longer-serving teammates. It is, compared to most other reasons for emergency leave, a saving grace.

          It is so much easier to plan for “the new coworker expects a baby in a couple months” than for any of the host of other emergencies that arise in the lives of working-age adults.

          Seriously. Compare with these other classic hits, all of which I’ve experienced:

          A death in the family can be sudden and unexpected, or can happen after a long, unpredictable decline. Either way, the Grim Reaper seldom has the good manners to show up on a convenient schedule. When it was my mom, she went from “59-year-old who is chronically ill and will die of her illness, someday” to “ICU patient who might die tonight” to “hospice patient who will live another month or two” to “deceased.” All these status changes happened over the course of about five days. There was no time to prepare. It threw my work into chaos.

          A sudden illness or tragic accident can leave an employee’s future in question for months, especially if their prospects of survival/meaningful recovery are uncertain. I’ve been there, both as the employee with a bad head injury, and as the underqualified underling left behind, training temps and trying to learn new tricks.

          A seemingly stellar new hire can prove to be a ticking time bomb of disruptive, dishonest behavior. A true rising star can get an unexpected offer they can’t resist. Old Reliable can experience a personal crisis and go totally AWOL, or just gradually burn out.

          I promise you, your team will do better covering mat leave on a couple months’ notice than they’ll do with almost any other disruptive life event, because they’ll see it coming. They, and you, will have the rare and priceless opportunity to plan for an extended absence.

          The skills your team develops during such a time will also help them weather what you consider real “emergencies,” when they inevitably happen.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            Ah, I don’t know. Being short staffed, overworked, and being told “Yay we hired A” and then told “Oh, just when A is ready to work on their own, they’ll be out 8-12 weeks” is different then A started two weeks ago, their parent passed, and they’ll be out a week. Yes, the pregnancy is able to be planned for more (usually) but the funeral/bereavement leave is a week compared to months. And as has been pointed out, feeling are feelings. I can see any number of people feeling angry/bitter/PO’d when the promised help they have counted on won’t be there for several months. It doesn’t make those people bad–it makes them human.

            1. Liz T*

              “It doesn’t make those people bad–it makes them human.”

              Counterpoint: sometimes humans are bad.

              You can see any number of people feeling angry/bitter/PO’d in this situation because we’re conditioned to view women’s lives and bodies as public property rather than their own. So, it’s understandable, but it’s still bad!

              It’s incredibly short-sighted to hire a whole-ass person with only the first few months in mind. If you were short-staffed and overworked, THAT was the problem. The problem wasn’t that the “solution” you hired turned out to be a real human being with a real life.

              1. Black Horse Dancing*

                It has nothing to do with them being a woman–it has to do with being overworked and feeling cheated that help is not going to be there when that’s what is what the new person were hired for. People will feel the way they feel–managers simply need to make sure that the attitude isn’t cruel or bullying when the new hire returns and that her current team is rewarded as much as possible. And for all those people saying ‘hire a temp!” many places can’t–they can only have that position. Especially government jobs when only one slot is allowed. Period.

                1. seattleite*

                  Whatever rules/policies prevent hiring an additional person are NOT the fault of the person who is pregnant, however.

            2. mt*

              “but the funeral/bereavement leave is a week compared to month”
              Sounds like you haven’t had a parent pass away, or one where you were in charge of all aspects after the fact. I took 3 weeks off to clean out and move out the apartment, talk to an estate attorney, plan a funeral, close major accounts. I needed more time than that to actually mourn and process it.

        12. Teagan*

          You are literally saying you want to (and would) discriminate against pregnant women in the hiring process and break the law.

      3. Despachito*

        I partly agree (that it is logical that everyone keeps their OWN best interests FIRST, but I’d see a little problematic the ONLY part of it).

        I think it is perhaps a moot point in the US if your mat leave is two months (and then I suppose the employee goes back to work and is basically able to cover the normal working hours with some accommodations such as pumping), I can imagine it is not that long an increased workload for the rest of the team.

        However (and that is probably not going to be helpful as the background is different, but just to introduce another angle), the scenario in my home country can well be that you can stay at home on state-paid mat leave and your employer has to hold a position for you until your kid is three, BUT if you become pregnant with another kid before your first one is three, you are again on state-paid mat leave and your employer has to hold a position for you until your SECOND child is three (and so on and so forth with all your next kids if you manage to have them before your last-but-one kid reaches three). So if you have four kids it can easily mean 12 years… go figure. And you are entitled to not even appear at work during all that time if you do not want to.

        This means your a.. is covered for the whole time (insurance and certainty that you will have a position back at your company unless it winds up), and it is up to your employer to suck it up and deal with it somehow (usually by hiring a temporary replacement).

        1. LizB*

          Sounds like your country has decided that society is overall better off if children have stability and security for the first three years of their lives, and that that need outweighs the need of corporations to increase profits. What I (US person) wouldn’t give to live in a country that saw it that way…

          1. Despachito*

            Yes, I personally think it is a great thing and I am glad I was able to do it, but it certainly also has its downsides (and we constantly grumble and complain instead of counting our blessings :-)

        2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          Seems like it’d be easy to cover for someone for a 12 year leave because you have a good decade to find other employees to do so. It’s harder to cover for someone who broke their leg skiing because who wants a 6 week job?

      4. Anon Today*

        But why would you do that? Is your current job so untenable that you couldn’t stick it out for another year or so?

        If you are qualified for a position at +30% of your current salary, there will be more opportunities when you are in a better place to hit the ground running. It would improve your chances of success in the new role to wait.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I think the OP has a better sense of what is best for them than any of us do. Let’s take them at their word.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          OP knows why she’s leaving. We should not second guess her.
          I’m imagining all the toxic “your boss sucks & is not going to change” reasons we’ve read in this column alone.
          And I’m thinking of all the opportunities that only come up occasionally.

        3. FridayFriyay*

          For a million reasons that are none of your business because there is nothing wrong with job searching while pregnant and acting like there is or that it is somehow better for the person in question to wait is absurd.

        4. Good Wolf*

          I am also childless, for what it’s worth, and I find this argument baffling. Let’s say someone did put their job search on hold because they were pregnant and didn’t want to inconvenience a new employer (perhaps passing up unique opportunities that won’t come around again, staying in a toxic environment, or any other number of reasons, or perhaps not; maybe it’s all just fine)… and then AFTER the maternity leave, they go back to job searching and land a new position. Then, wouldn’t you be complaining about how horribly they treated their former employer, who so kindly dealt with their absence while they were gone, had to pay for their maternity leave, and then just got ditched as soon as that leave was over? So to avoid that, should the employee stick it out for another couple of years just so they don’t seem ungrateful? What if they wanted another kid, but then, oh, shoot, that would start the whole process over and now they can’t change jobs for another 3-5 years…

      5. MissBaudelaire*

        That really seems to be the best takeaway from this.

        I’m not sure why employers expect employees to care more about the business than employers care about employees, but there you have it.

    14. AnotherSarah*

      This could definitely be annoying, and add more work to your plate! So could an employee suddenly quitting, dying, etc….I think you can “plan” for the unexpected in certain ways, but in others, you just have to accept that you won’t be able to control many things that happen to your team members.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Or realizing an employee hasn’t done any work for the last two years.

        (Not that I have any experience with a coworker doing that and me having to clean up the mess.)

    15. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The line in this comment that makes me the most worried is when you say “I don’t think I would be able to pull the offer.”

      I absolutely understand being frustrated about long term employee absences and trying to figure out how that impacts the training schedule and everybody else’s workflow. But when you actually start thinking or talking about pulling an offer when you find out your employee is in a medical situation that would inconvenience your business, that’s really, really concerning. And honestly, it’s this EXACT mindset that makes people withhold information about pregnancy or disability at the interview stage. They worry that people will think the exact same thing you’ve expressed in this comment.

      1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        YES! That jumped out at me too. This poster is tacitly acknowledging that they would want to pull the offer if they found out the new hire was pregnant. That is discriminatory, and it certainly implies that they’d opt not to make an offer in the first place to a pregnant candidate.

    16. Despachito*

      When I got pregnant with my first child, I had just jumped through several interviewing hoops, made it to the finals, and got an offer to be a head of Teapot Support Department. I managed to negotiate a very interesting salary, and the position would mean a lot more responsibilities I had before as a Teapot Support Specialist.

      When we were about to sign the contract, I told them I was pregnant, and asked them if they still wanted me.

      They did not.

      Was it discrimination? Technically, maybe. But … I live in a country where you are entitled to a state-paid maternity leave of three years (sometimes even up to four). You can of course decide not to take it, but if you do, your employer must hold a position for you (the very same position during approximately six months, a similar one for up to three years).

      I knew I would want to be with my child personally, and that would mean I would use up those three years and be of little use to my employer (also, ironically, I was being hired as a replacement for a person who became pregnant). So I do not consider the resulting situation to be discrimination, and I think it was fair that I did not have the position.

      However, with the much shorter leave you are describing, and potentially more willingness to come back to work, it would feel very different (to be out of work for perhaps 2 months versus 3 years is a significant difference).

      1. Despachito*

        My point is, if we are thinking about (dis)honesty, we should definitely factor in the investment we are willing to make in the employer’s business. If you are prepared to work basically normal business hours with your baby, then I’d see it as discrimination not to hire you just on the basis of your pregnancy.

        If you are not (as was my case), I’d see it as a perfectly reasonable decision on both sides.

        (I was lucky that my Teapot Support activities could be done remotely even back then, and I stroke the right balance by becoming an independent contractor, so I could both have time for my kids AND work throughout that time. But I’d definitely not be able to do the “butt in seat” work I was interviewing for, and I think it was fair from me to recognize it and not conceal my pregnancy until the signature of the contract).

        (but I think LW’s position is completely different because of the much shorter length of the maternity leave and potentially her willingness to come back to work physically)

      2. kicking_k*

        Yes this. I come from the UK, where mat leave isn’t quite that long, but it’s totally common to take the whole whack – with accumulated leave, mine was about 14 months. And even without discrimination, it does affect your career thinking. Once we’d decided to try for a child, I knew that most likely my career was going to be on hold for several years, because if we wanted more than one kid without a large age gap, I would be in and out, work-wise, for at least a couple of years. I actually got pregnant again while on mat leave, so I ended up returning for much less than a year – and did feel a bit bad about that. But I didn’t know how long it would take to get pregnant …

        I didn’t return after my second maternity leave, but have never found it so hard to get hired! Given that I was still a typical age to have kids, I do think there may have been some discrimination there (I’ve heard many similar stories from other women). Now that I’m older, I’m having an easier time.

        1. Despachito*

          This unwillingness to hire women with small children is also something which is quite common in my country, and it is the flip side of our long maternity leave.

          The typical scenario: you take the whole 3 years of mat leave you are entitled to by law (which usually stales your position at work and affects your prospects to promotion) : then your kid goes to kindergarten, and typically it’s the mom who takes them in and out (and therefore is less able to stay longer at work), and if the kid is sick it’s the mom who stays with him/her at home (her career has already been affected with the mat leave, so she is less likely to be promoted and brings home less money, therefore it is more logical that it’s her who stays with the kid and not the dad whose career did not suffer such interruptions and therefore his income is likely to be higher and less expendable).

          Quite a vicious circle, isn’t it?

          (But I am not going to deny that the ability to physically be with the kid every day in his/her first three years is a great opportunity, and beneficial for both the kid and the parent. I would appreciate if the parental leave is more evenly distributed between the parents, though)

          1. wanda*

            If I had to do it over again, I would have wanted my mat leave to be 12 weeks instead of 7 weeks. Maybe my milk would have come in better if I had had a longer time at home. But I can’t imagine being expected to be at alone home with my kid every day for three years. That would not have been good at all for me, and thus not for my kid either.

            I will say my husband loved his 10 weeks* home alone with the baby and also managed to get a lot of small home improvement stuff done. So I know it’s really personal. But it’s not correct to say that so much time with the parents is always better.
            * he had 12 weeks total, 2 that we spent together right after the birth and 10 that he took solo after I went back to work.

            1. Despachito*

              It’s perhaps TMI but it took me 40 whole days of hard work to be able to produce enough milk, so I feel for you, it can be incredibly hard sometimes.

              As for the three years, it’s fully optional. You are entitled by law to take it but you do not have to if you do not want to. Neither are you expected to do it (apart from a mild social pressure which can go both ways – in some groups you will be frowned upon if you take it, in some if you don’t, but it is nothing out of the ordinary and you can totally not give a damn and do it your own way; I personally did not experience any pressure either way).

              As for the “home alone” thing – even if you opt for the long mat leave, you don’t have to live in isolation – if you are lucky, your friends have babies about the same age, or you can make new friends through your kids, and there are a lot of outdoors and indoors activities you can undertake, so you do not necessarily have to be isolated, and as far as I remember, it was quite fun and I made some new friends and many new acquaintances.

              But I would lie if I said it does not affect your career.

              Out of curiosity – who takes care of your kids after you go back to work? Here, it’s kindergartens from 3 years up, but with younger kids the options are limited. State daycare for kids younger than 3 used to be frequent but are almost nonexistent today. So if you are lucky enough and have retired, reasonably healthy grandparents of the kid, they help out very often, or if you don’t, there is either private daycare or nannies (both pretty expensive so not for everyone).

              1. Rainy*

                I don’t have kids, but I have a lot of friends and coworkers with kids. In the US, if you can afford it, your kids go to daycare. In my area I think I saw an estimate recently that childcare costs about 15,000/yr per child. If you can’t afford it, maybe you have retired family nearby who can help. Maybe you and your partner can work opposite days or shifts so someone is always home with the kids. Maybe you have a retired or unemployed neighbor who wants to make a little money under the table. Maybe someone in your neighborhood runs an unlicensed daycare out of their home and you can pay half the amount you’d pay to someone with a licensed daycare or to a large commercial daycare. Maybe you can afford to hire a college student to nanny for you part-time. My husband’s parents were part of a religious babysitting co-op organized through their church. My parents just frankly couldn’t afford babysitting for more than one kid, even the extremely low-supervision style that was 70s babysitting, so once my sister was born my mother gave up her job and stayed home with us–and hated every single second of it. It’s a problem with a million answers, many of them thoroughly unsatisfactory.

              2. PostalMixup*

                Yeah, childcare can be really tricky, especially for infants. Our center is low-cost for the quality of care, and we paid $1200 USD/mo for infant care. There’s a center a few blocks away that’s $1800/mo. And wait lists often run over a year long, which is an issue when pregnancy is nine months and maternity leave is 3 months maximum. I advise my friends to apply to wait lists when they go off birth control. And it’s especially terrible, because childcare workers get essentially poverty wages. It’s no wonder there are nationwide staffing shortages.
                I am one of those people who would have preferred a shorter maternity leave. I took ten weeks with my first, and it was so isolating and exhausting. I tried to take eight with my second, but then COVID happened and I ended up using the full 13 (that I was very fortunate to have because it meant we never had to do the whole two parents working without childcare thing, especially since we both work primarily on-site). It nearly broke me. I love my kids, but I’m a better parent when I have my job.

              3. Non-Prophet*

                I’m in the US, About 90 minutes away from a major city. The most common answer in our area is that parents send their kids to private daycare starting at 12 weeks. I live in an area where most families are dual income because the cost of living requires it. People also retire relatively late because of the cost of living, so grandparents are not likely available for childcare. In-home daycare was available years ago (when I was growing up; I’m in my mid 30s now), but is much less common now.

                So, if both parents work during standard business hours, daycare or nanny is really the only option. The cost is substantial. In a few months, we’ll have two kids in daycare (an infant and a toddler). We’ll pay almost $4,000/month for childcare. It will literally be more than twice the cost of our mortgage. This is for a daycare that is considered “average” here (ie, we didn’t pick the luxury, fancy daycare).

                1. Despachito*

                  Thank you all for sharing this information, I find it very helpful and interesting to find out how it works elsewhere!

                2. MissBaudelaire*

                  The in home daycares here are drying up because 1. they are operated by a smaller staff and parents couldn’t manage it when that staff was sick/took vacation. It was a kick in the teeth for them to still have to pay for the spot but not be able to utilize it and pay for alternative care on those days. Like, obviously, the workers deserved the money, it just was a difficult situation.

                  So there are more centers that cost an arm and a leg, but they are expanding to preschools and a few are even kindergartens, so you can have your kid in the same program from birth to six.

                  The real issue here with the pandemic has been after school care.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              Same, I think of these countries with 1+ years of mat leave and I honestly can’t imagine being out of my job for so long (so much would change by the time I got back) or being home with my kid that long.

              I’ve always felt the right amount of time would be 4 months, 6 at the most, but I’ve always gone back after my 12 weeks is up.

              1. Despachito*

                Interesting, how everyone feels very differently about this.

                I, for one, cannot imagine leaving my infant in the care of someone else at 6 months (definitely not saying that one option is right and the other wrong, because I do not believe there is an universal “good” or “bad” solution, just that FOR ME it would be incredibly early).

                I definitely feel influenced by what I see as the prevalent option around me -most of my friends used up the three years they are entitled to to stay at home with their kids, and only one mom returned to work in the timeframe you are describing.

                1. SpaceySteph*

                  It was hard to leave my first, but after seeing her adapt well I knew it would be fine with my second. I was plenty ready to drop him off and get back to work. I am sure it would be different if the culture around me were different though.

          2. kicking_k*

            That’s how it often works out here too (that mum’s career, even if she stays with the same employer, suffers long-term from the short-term interruptions).

            We had a slightly different story from most in that I am not the primary caregiver, and my husband has stayed at home – but why should I be discriminated against, even if I was? Even with two or three kids, these years typically don’t take up a large proportion of your career as a whole. My kids are in school now and I’m really happy to be back on track.

            (I was grateful that I could have a year both times so I could breastfeed, and I wouldn’t really have wanted to split that with a non-nursing partner. But the career interruption was real, and if I’d had a third child I would have considered taking a short leave (I was working part-time then so it wouldn’t have been as drastic) just to keep up some continuity.)

            It frustrates me that although it’s obviously right that prospective employers can’t ask about your parental status or plans, a lot seem to have shifted to considering any woman of potential childbearing age with suspicion. And I’ve heard a number of people (including, yes, older relatives of mine) support this viewpoint. And it could all be solved by offering just a slightly greater degree of flexibility for parents (and non-parents! They have emergencies too.) I’ve had employers that did offer this, and I don’t recall that it was seen as being abused.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I don’t understand what is making you say that isn’t discrimination. It sounds like you were fine with the outcome, but if they were willing to hire you when they thought you weren’t pregnant and then unwilling to hire you when they knew that you were that is just very literally exactly specifically what “pregnancy discrimination” is.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I live in the US with our short/nonexistent maternity leave so I have never put any thought into how it works in a country where you get leave for 3 years. I have no skin in that game and am not making any statements about whether they should or should not have hired you… but there is just no question that what you described is an extremely straightforward example of discriminating against someone who is pregnant.

          1. Despachito*

            Yes, you are probably technically right.

            But I think that to be fair, I have to factor in two things.

            First, the different length of the mat leave. If it was just a few weeks like in the U.S. and then I was ready to come and retake the normal responsibilities of the job, I’d definitely see no reason for me not to take the job. When all this happened I was about three months into pregnancy, so there would have been six months for me to learn my new role, then I’d be absent for say, 2 months, and then everything would run as normal. But with the three years, that would be wildly different. My predecessor was leaving because she was pregnant, and it was made obvious to me that the job would be quite demanding, requiring to stay long hours… so basically not very compatible with life outside work. If they hired me and I wanted to take all the time I was entitled to, they’d have to do without me for three years, which I’d think would not be very reasonable.

            Of course I could have told them I’d rescind the mat leave, come back as soon as possible and take all the responsibilities. But – and this is the second and most important thing for me – I realized that I was neither ready nor willing to leave my infant so soon in the care of someone else. So I did not push back (and I know I’d possibly have a leg to stand on, IF I really wanted to take on the demanding job… but I decided I didn’t).

    17. learnedthehardway*

      This is why God made contractors – you should be able to hire someone as a temporary employee to cover the time the individual will be out. You’d have to do the same thing if an employee had to take a medical leave unexpectedly, so why it is such a problem for pregnancy – at least you know ahead of time if someone is going to have a baby!

      1. RVA Cat*

        Absolutely this!
        How is this different from an employee needing surgery in the near future?

        1. Yelm*

          It’s different because Not Pot Stirring seems to thinks that having a baby or starting a family is a luxury and privilege, not a natural and, statistically, almost universal aspect of the human condition.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            To be fair, having a child is a luxury, not a necessity. It is a choice, to be respected, but is not, as you seem to think, the end all, beat all. No one needs to have a child–it is a biological drive but not a necessity like food or water. You seem to think that the ability to reproduce should be held up as a miracle when really, all we need is acknowledge that many people choose to have children and that this should be acknowledged, realized, and planned for by companies. No parent should be discriminated against nor should they be seen as better than non parents which you seem to be saying.

            1. Liz T*

              They actually treated it as the opposite of a miracle. They treated it as a very common thing.

              I’m childless by choice and tbh can’t fathom why individuals choose parenthood, which seems awful. But I’m still aware that in a very basic sense, IF we want society to continue on, SOMEONE needs to have kids. It’s the categorical imperative–we support working parents because if no one did, working parenthood would be impossible, and society would suffer either from a brain drain in the workforce or a lack of a future generation.

              1. Tik*

                This is such a weird argument it drives me barmy. There are over 7.6 billion people on the planet. The only way your comment would make sense is if you excluded every single human being outside your country borders……..

                Everyone in 1 country could stop having babies and in terms of the human population it is neither here nor there (unless it is China). I am al for rights (we have longer mat leave in England) but silly statements like the population will cease to exist makes me feel like I’m watching an awful movie with awful lines!

                1. Liz T*

                  That’s what the categorical imperative is. It’s an ethical principle that holds you should behave in a way that doesn’t rely on other people behaving differently. It’s not ethical to say, “I want society to have children and an intelligent, skilled workforce, but it’s okay if I disincentivize that, because there are enough people in the world that a few will slip through the cracks.”

                  If you’re relying on others overcoming the obstacles you create or enforce, you’re behaving immorally.

                2. Liz T*

                  That’s what the categorical imperative is. It’s an ethical principle that holds you should behave in a way that doesn’t rely on other people behaving differently. It’s not ethical to say, “I want society to have children and an intelligent, skilled workforce, but it’s okay if I disincentivize that, because there are enough people in the world that a few will slip through the cracks.”

                  If you’re relying on others overcoming the obstacles you create or enforce, you’re behaving immorally.

                  I’m not talking about the population ceasing to exist. I’m talking about not being an awful human.

              2. Despachito*

                I think this is a reasonable stance.

                People may or may not have children, and their choice is no one’s business but theirs, because either way it’s them who will bear the consequences of their decisions.

                I think there is a sort of reciprocity not only between parents and kids but also between the childless people and the new generation – people with no kids pay taxes which finance things they themselves do not use but the kids of others do (e.g. schools), and lot of them do things which in some way benefit the kids and perhaps the parents would not have the time to do (I think of some of our sports coaches who did not have their own kids but have introduced whole successive generations to their sport).

                And those kids will grow up to be doctors, shop assistants, bus drivers, bakers… whose work will be useful to the childless people as well, and they will contribute to their pensions.

                So either way, fair deal, I ‘d say.

            2. Yelm*

              I don’t know what “end all, beat all” means—is it a version of be all, end all? Regardless, your perspective is biased. Childlessness is a legitimate choice—indeed, it is my choice—but it is not the choice of the vast, vast majority of people on the planet ( I don’t know the statistics for non-human animals, but I’d guess they’re similar). Animals reproduce. Statistically, human animals reproduce almost without exception. To pretend that this is not the case is to deny reality.

    18. Me*

      “I wouldn’t be able to wait 6 months for my new person to be a somewhat functional member of my team.”

      You have to. Pregnancy aside, people get sick, injured or have dependents that do.

      You need to fix your work processes. And the fact that you can function while you have a vacancy and are working through the process of filling it shows that you in fact can. It’s not ideal but it’s possible.

    19. Alison2*

      You’re actually correct but they will mob you for it lol. This is a case where the candidate and manager’s interests are not aligned.

      1. Me*

        It’s illegal to consider it. Period. Full stop.

        Taking issue with people who don’t think they have to comply with anti discrimination laws because it’s inconvenient isn’t “mobbing”.

      2. BRR*

        “Actually correct’ about what? That it’s inconvenient? Yeah that’s the really of the situation (but people need to deal with people being out, that’s just how work is). To “have” to factor in that a pregnant candidate will be out shortly after starting? That’s not actually correct. It’s still taking into account the pregnancy even if you just call it coverage.

      3. Firecat*

        I mean, I know that a lot of people feel this way.

        I think we’re we differ is on determining who is morally in the wrong. I believe the employer is morally in the wrong for wanting information that’s not their business so they can illegally discriminate against a pregnant person.

        You and others think it is wrong of a pregnant employee to not give you that chance – *cause onboarding hard.

      4. Joielle*

        Right – the candidate and manager’s interests are not aligned, and legally, the candidate’s interest wins out. Part of being a manager is dealing appropriately with that fact.

        1. Calliope*

          Exactly. Like, it’s ok to feel put out. It’s ok to go home, pour a glass of wine, and complain to your spouse about how something that makes your life harder happened at work today. It’s not ok to illegally discriminate against people. This is actually an EASY situation for you because the law prescribes what you have to do, which is not discriminate against pregnant people. Follow that and then you can feel whatever you feel in your off time.

      5. aebhel*

        No? Everyone knows it’s inconvenient for the employer. What we’re saying (and what the law says) is that the rights of the pregnant person supersede the inconvenience a pregnancy will cause the employer. Given that in the US the deck is almost completely stacked in the employer’s favor at all times, that’s not something I’m going to weep over, I’m afraid. Employers can learn to cope with some inconvenience from time to time.

    20. lost academic*

      You can be frustrated. You can be put out. You can be stressed. What you NEED to do is NOT project those emotions onto the pregnant employee. That is where you begin to discriminate and the bias begins to seep – why hire ANYONE who might get pregnant? Why hire ANYONE who might need to be out for weeks or months?

      You have to recognize that your hiring and managing decisions need to happen outside of that information and the easiest way to make sure the decisions happen legally in that fashion is by not having information that will likely cause you to make decisions in an illegal way. Recognize how easy it is to allow your frustration to allow you to search for a way to discriminate against someone. The two are just not at all comparable.

    21. BRR*

      How would it change your decision if the applicant said “BTW I’m pregnant and will need to be out right after you finish training me.” It’s still factoring in their pregnancy even if you’re saying it’s about hiring someone who would be taking a longer period of leave shortly after being trained.

    22. PostalMixup*

      I interviewed for a specialized, technical role at six months pregnant, and went on maternity leave after five weeks on the job. During that time, I got my on-boarding out of the way, got up to speed on the specific sub-field that my team operates in, and planned my projects so I’d be ready to jump in as soon as I returned from leave. It actually was really smooth.
      Don’t think of it as “a month of hiring plus a month of on boarding plus two months of maternity leave” as time without someone in the role. Because that hiring process and on boarding is going to happen regardless of who is in that seat and regardless of the contents of their uterus (or lack thereof). So you really just have the maternity leave that wasn’t inevitable. What happens when you have trouble finding someone for your specialized technical role? My team has been trying to fill two such positions for MONTHS. We’ve gone through rounds of hiring, but the job market is so competitive right now that we haven’t been able to find candidates that actually meet our needs. What do you do then?

    23. Kitano*

      Timing like this should be a consideration in all of your hiring processes, because as other commenters have pointed out, there are a lot more reasons besides pregnancy that would cause a worker to be suddenly OOO for months on end. You should already know what deadlines are crucial for the position you’re hiring for to meet, and work that conversation into the interview process for every candidate.

      For example, let’s say you’re hiring to fill a position with a portfolio that has several huge deadlines that cannot be missed 4-5 months from now. Your team can’t possibly meet those deadlines without someone in this role. In that case, you frame it as a necessary component of the job during the interview process – “We’re hiring for this role because the Teapot Department has several mission-critical deadlines in 4-5 months’ time, and the person filling this role will need to be all-hands-on-deck to help us meet them. Is that something you will be able to do?”

      This gives candidates a fair understanding of what you need from them, and anyone with decency will bow out then if they know they can’t meet a basic requirement of the job. Then, you hire the best person for the role with the understanding that things can always change, and hiring managers rarely get the ironclad certainty they crave. The new hire could be hit by a bus while walking home on their first day of work, or they could get a better offer a month later and ditch you, or they could pass out from the extreme stress of the deadline crunch and be out for 8+ weeks recovering. Like others have mentioned, you need to plan around this uncertainty as best you can by considering options like temp help, new workflows, or rearranging priorities with management.

      1. Not Pot Stirring*

        Thank you! This is the first answer I’ve gotten to the question I actually posed!

        I would be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated or discouraged with the number of comments that were basically saying “just deal with it” or accusing me of planning to discriminate.

        1. Eden*

          So the only answer that meets your standards is the one advocating illegal discrimination. Might want to consider that the other comments aren’t the problem.

          1. Kitano*

            Nowhere in my comment did I advocate for illegal discrimination. It’s the same advice Allison gives every employer with a specific thing they have to have in the person they hire – be upfront with your expectations, and expect not to have your expectations met 100%. I also clarified afterwards that “even after you say this, you have to be ready for uncertainty and that’s just a part of hiring humans”.

            1. Eden*

              > anyone with decency will bow out then if they know they can’t meet a basic requirement of the job

              So pregnant women who don’t bow out are not decent and you’re making that that clear in the hypothetical interview even if you don’t use the word “pregnancy”.

            2. Ruby*

              What would possibly be the answer to that question that doesn’t involve illegal discrimination? Are you asking for them to disclose medical conditions?

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          With all due respect, your description (extended leave is a burden) differs from this scenario of specific mission-critical deadlines integral to the position. There is nothing comparable that’s integral to your team as you’ve described it thus far. In each other part of Kitano’s comment, they point to comments you’ve already received. You asked “how have other managers handled this?” If you’re not seeing answers to your question in the other 100+ replies, it gets harder and harder to give you the benefit of the doubt.

          1. Kitano*

            Thank you! I was trying to give them a way they could talk about timing needs *if it was applicable to the role*. And even then, you have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario of having no one on staff to help during crunch time – continency planning is part of management, too.

            1. Calliope*

              It sounds like what you’re doing is giving them a way of signalling that they will make your life difficult if you turn out to be pregnant which is not ok.

              Yes, of course there are exceptions – you don’t apply for most work on a political campaign in July if you’re going out on leave in September before the election in November. You don’t audition for a play that premieres in March when you’re due in February. Basically anything less extreme than that though (and you notice those are short term jobs by their nature) the company needs to know how to deal with it.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          You literally said in your original comment that you’d be upset that you couldn’t pull an offer if you found out a new hire was pregnant.

        4. Jennifer Strange*

          Thank you! This is the first answer I’ve gotten to the question I actually posed!

          Really? Because I see about 100 answers above you.

          1. Joielle*

            Yep. The answer to the question is, you just have to deal with it. It’s not the answer that Not Pot Stirring wants, but it is the legally and morally correct answer.

        5. Admin Lackey*

          You’re being accused of planning to discriminate because you are planning to discriminate. Most discrimination is adverse affect discrimination, which comes from people like you who think they have a sympathetic reason for it. Your reasons and rationalizations do not matter, people are more important than jobs and everyone has a right to start a family

        6. MCMonkeyBean*

          You literally are trying to discriminate though, like blatantly that is what you are describing

      2. louvella*

        But if you didn’t hire someone because they would need to be on maternity leave during that time, that would still be illegal, I don’t know what problem you think you’re solving by asking that question.

        1. Eden*

          Starting to seem like people think these clever workarounds are okay because “pregnancy discrimination” means “I won’t hire you bc pregnancy is gross, cooties”. No, it’s always “I won’t hire you because it’s inconvenient” and these workarounds are regular pregnancy discrimination.

    24. Starbuck*

      “However I do think the fact that someone is going to be out of the office for a couple of months in their first year (regardless of the reason) is something I would want to know because it may factor into my plans in a big way. ”

      But you don’t always get to know, especially if it’s an injury or sudden illness. There’s often no warning for those. So you’re not entitled to advance notice with pregnancy either, and definitely not during hiring. Once someone’s started, t’s up to you and your workplace to earn the pregnant employee’s trust enough that they won’t be discriminated against for giving extra time for leave coverage planning.

    25. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Think of parental leave as medical leave. The only difference is that the person has 9 months of warning, which is their private medical information and they can choose with whom to share that information. If a job candidate told you they had cancer and expected to have surgery in 6 months which would require 12 weeks of medical leave, would you not support them taking that time to heal? Why should it be any different for someone giving birth?

    26. Moths*

      A few other commenters have touched on this, but I want to emphasize that, yes, this can be a big inconvenience to an employer. It would absolutely mean that you might be short an employee for a few months and that would happen just after you finished training them. It would be a burden on your current team and on yourself and it would mean that you didn’t have a fully independent member of the team for several more months than you had planned. For that reason, it would often be in the best interest of an employer not to hire a pregnant employee.

      However, for that exact reason we have had to implement laws against discriminating in hiring based on pregnancy. If employers could not hire people because it was going to be inconvenient to them when that person was out on parental leave, pregnant individuals would struggle to find jobs even more than they already do. And because women tend to be the ones who carry the burden of pregnancy/childbirth, they would get the brunt of career delays, being out of work, and being passed over for promotions. As a society, we’ve recognized this can be an inconvenience to employers and that for that reason, we know they will often choose not to hire a pregnant individual if given the choice. But we’ve also said that we recognize this disproportionately disadvantages women to such a great level that we have been willing to put laws in place to try to prevent it. The disproportionate systematic disadvantage to individuals who bear children outweighs the temporary disadvantage to a company. Is this “fair” to individual companies? I think your post makes some good arguments for reasons it may not be (though arguments can be made in favor of it as well). But this is a situation where we have decided that fairness needs to be assessed on a larger scale than just the impact to the company. And because we know companies may struggle to do that, even with the laws that are in place, pregnant individuals are allowed to not disclose that information before being hired.

    27. Pikachu*

      I lost my pregnancy at 23 weeks, just weeks after I started a new job. I made it to the interview round because I was the best. I got hired because I was the best. If someone like you had not hired me because of my pregnancy because you assumed I would take leave, you would have missed out on a candidate who went on to become one of the highest performers in the organization. Sorry for the negative impact on your team.

    28. Joielle*

      From the rest of your responses here, it sounds like they way it would “factor into [your] plans in a big way” is that you would try to find a way to not hire that person. In other words, if you could, you would commit illegal discrimination in hiring.

      Sometimes being a good person (and in this case, following the law) means doing things that are personally very inconvenient. I think you should recuse yourself from any hiring decisions until you work through that with a professional.

    29. Pocket Mouse*

      This became a long thread, so in an attempt to boil it down:

      Your employer has made the decision to burden your team (as you put it) when there are extended periods you have to operate with one or more fewer team members than usual. This isn’t going to change without some reframing and rearranging of priorities at the organizational level.

      Your options, if you want to do not only the legal thing but the right thing: Don’t engage in employment discrimination and…
      1. Accept your employer’s priorities and make a conscious, sustained effort to support team morale as well as support any individual who may need to be out for any reason.
      2. Make or advocate hard for change to staffing levels, workflows, or other so that your team is not burdened in these situations.
      3. Find a position elsewhere with an employer that has different priorities.

      Harmful/illegal approaches:
      1. Foster or allow resentment against individuals who have to take leave for any reason because of the workload impact on your team.
      2. Engage in employment discrimination.

      If you’re leaning toward either of the harmful/illegal approaches, please seriously consider whether you’re cut out to be a manager, and if it’s important at all to you to be a good manager. Maybe return to this thread in a couple weeks, and then in a couple months- sit with all the responses and feedback you’re getting when you’re in a few different mind spaces.

    30. Anon Today*

      I completely understand this thinking! I think for that reason it would be better to not know if the woman was pregnant.

      For sure though, I (woman with children) would have negative feelings toward a woman who changed jobs while knowingly pregnant. If she was laid-off or somehow otherwise found herself unemployed, no hard feelings, but if she deliberately left her company to come on board and then leave us in a lurch, that seems pretty crummy.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        That’s a really weird way to characterize changing jobs.

        This comment describes pregnant job candidates as if they’re cartoon villains who really, really want to make life hard for other people, and that’s not a great way to think about any of your coworkers, let alone the kind who belong to a legally protected category.

        Please, just try to think about pregnant people as PEOPLE. They have just as many valid reasons to apply for new jobs as non-pregnant people. They aren’t out to get you or make your life hard. They’re not going on maternity leave AT you. They’re just human beings who live in bodies that sometimes require medical leave because all bodies do at some point or other.

        1. kicking_k*

          This so much. People do not get pregnant with the purpose of ripping your company off. Nor can they necessarily tailor their own lives around others’ convenience by timing their pregnancies perfectly, even if they wanted to – just as a manager can’t plan so well as to rule out absolutely any member of staff suddenly becoming unavailable.

      2. Redd*

        I can see your point assuming a world where all jobs are healthy, safe, pay living wages, and are reasonably fulfilling, and employers are happy to hold a position available until all the applicants who are a good fit are currently healthy and have delivered and recovered from any pregnancies involved.

        Otherwise, if I see a job I’m a good fit for that better suits my needs, I’m not going to sacrifice a potential 10-20 year career because of my upcoming need for a month or two of leave. I find it strange that you would expect that.

      3. Jennifer Strange*

        but if she deliberately left her company to come on board and then leave us in a lurch, that seems pretty crummy.

        No it doesn’t. It seems like someone who saw an opportunity that would be good for her career (which may not be available in a few months) and applied for it, earning it fairly. If you’re in a lurch because one person is out on maternity leave, that’s on your employer, not on her.

        1. Anon Today*

          If you have enough staff to provide coverage for a FTE without coworkers putting in 40 hours of OT, maybe your money would be better spent somewhere other than that employee’s salary? I guess it works if you have like 10 employees, so everyone picks up an extra 1/2 day/week for 2 months, but if you’re on a small team, it’s a lot to expect people to put in an extra 10-20 hours per week.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            If you have enough staff to provide coverage for a FTE without coworkers putting in 40 hours of OT, maybe your money would be better spent somewhere other than that employee’s salary?

            Then you have no one to blame but yourself if someone has to leave for an extended period – for whatever reason – and the rest of the team is in a lurch due to being short-staffed. You’re still the one leaving the team in a lurch, not the person taking leave.

            but if you’re on a small team, it’s a lot to expect people to put in an extra 10-20 hours per week.

            It’s also a lot to expect women to choose between career and family because the people at top don’t want to spend the money to have a team that can take over for a co-worker should they need extended leave.

            1. Anon Today*

              I am not a manager, but I remember trying to get coverage when I was on leave (twice) – there was no one to cover. For the most part my projects were just delayed until I got back. Of course that also affected my ability to meet goals (and therefore my raises/ability to advance), affected the overall profitability of the company etc. We worked on 2 person teams, 1 engineer, 1 product manager in new product development.

              I really did stop a job search the 2nd time I got pregnant, because I didn’t feel like I could join a new team and then walk away before I was even really trained.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                What you’re describing here is pregnancy discrimination. Forcing you to find your own coverage and penalizing you for not reaching goals while you were recovering from childbirth and making you feel personally responsible for a decrease in revenue that took place while you were on medical leave is exactly what pregnancy discrimination looks like. I hate that your job put you through that, it was wrong and it shouldn’t happen to anybody.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I work in an industry where hiring a temp is not the done thing, and over the years I’ve worked with multiple people who needed long term medical leave, some baby related and some not. Even when my workgroups have been down more than one person at the same time, I can only think of one or two weeks when I had to go over my 40 hours to get the work done. Sometimes that’s because we put non-priority projects on pause, sometimes that’s because another work group was able to loan us a part timer for a few extra hours, and sometimes the medical leave just happened to take place during a less busy time of year.

            What I’m saying is, if one person being out on medical leave means everyone else in the department has to work an extra 20 hours a week until they get back? That’s not your coworker’s fault. That’s your company’s fault. Don’t blame the coworker for a problem the company caused.

          3. kicking_k*

            Hire a temp. Maybe they can’t step right into the role, but they can probably free up some time so more experienced members of staff can cover.

        2. Calliope*

          Also, applying for jobs takes times and getting pregnant also may take time (or may happen accidentally). It’s not at all uncommon to have a hiring process take 3-4 months. A woman might not be pregnant when she applies and may be pregnant when she gets the offer. Or she may have been trying for 2 years and going through IVF and not be able to put off career changes for all that time when she doesn’t even know whether it’ll ultimately work.

          In short, no, someone getting pregnant is not “leaving you in the lurch” and you need to wipe that from your mind.

          1. Esmae*

            Yes! From an employer’s perspective, there’s no difference between a prospective employee who doesn’t reveal that they’re pregnant during the interview process, and one who doesn’t know they’re pregnant yet. They could find out about the pregnancy on their first day at the new job, and the impact on the employer would be the same. It shouldn’t make any difference that they took the job “knowingly” pregnant.

      4. 'Tis Me*

        What if her current job is a misery/potentially unsafe for her as a pregnant woman/pays so little she couldn’t afford to keep working there and pay childcare costs?

    31. RagingADHD*

      And this is exactly why discrimination is illegal. Because discrimination is more convenient for employers, but bad for society.

      I mean, most laws work that way. There are a lot of things that would make my life easier if they weren’t illegal. I’d never have to pay for food or clothes. I could park wherever I want, including in my neighbor’s yard. Businesses, too — dumping toxic waste into the nearest river is a lot cheaper and easier than containing it or decontaminating it.

      But then society as a whole suffers. The entire point of having laws is to protect society from individuals and companies pursuing their self-interest to the detriment of all.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It would be really better for my employers if they could pull a ‘well you’ve got a degenerative disability so you can’t guarantee you won’t need time off in the near future so we refuse to hire you’. It would not be good for me.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        This is such a good point. Letting employers do what is best for them got us Erin Brockovich-style environmental contamination, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the Radon girls’ head and neck cancer, the conditions described in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” Excuse me if I don’t give a crap what is best for employers to maximize their profits.

    32. Pepper*

      There is no such thing as an isolated “what about this situation” question. Every single such question is designed to be used as a weapon against the general principle. “In this particular case it was terrible and costly for us to deal with this pregnant employee’s leave so therefore employers must always be able to decide if they can deal with a pregnant employee’s leave, which means it should be legal to fire or not hire pregnant people.” And no, we are not going to go there, because it should not be legal.

    33. MCMonkeyBean*

      “the fact that I don’t think I would be able to pull the offer”

      Well yes that is very much the point of not disclosing, so that you don’t discriminate against them for being pregnant…

    34. Anon4*

      Just wanted to chime in as I think you are taking a lot of unfair heat here. I am a 30 something childless woman, in law, and my plans for the future do not involve having children.

      I see a lot of false equivalencies in the comments below comparing a planned pregnancy to an unexpected medical or family issue. I think there is a huge difference between an established team member taking a planned leave, and a newly on boarded person taking an extended leave within the first few months of being hired. I think it is a bit disingenuous to show up for an interview and tell the prospective employer that you’re able to take on the responsibilities and tasks of the job, when in reality you WONT be doing that. Also, it is incredibly common for companies to only offer things like sick leave or vacation time as it accrues over what, usually 6 months or so? If you hired a person and they immediately needed to take a leave of absence for some reason other than pregnancy, the company wouldn’t be obligated to hold their position.

      If a more senior attorney in my firm were pregnant, we would have to decide how to address her case load among the other attorneys with the ability to handle more complex cases – who all have their own cases to worry about. Its not something just anyone could take over – different people have different specialties. For that reason its also not really possible to hire a temp… its not really a thing in this field. Its very different trying to find temporary coverage for a high-pay high-skill position. And its not like we could hire a relatively low-experience associate to cover for a partner. Any outside hire with the requisite experience would most likely not be interested in a temp position and considering this is a field where we build relationships with clients over time (with the hope that they continue to send us work) it’s also a risky proposition. So temporarily losing a more senior person certainly would be an extra burden on the rest of us, but at least one that we could plan for in advance. There would be absolutely no point in hiring, say, a senior associate, with the expectation that she would be taking on a case load with more advanced work, just to find out she doesn’t actually plan to do the work.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I think it is a bit disingenuous to show up for an interview and tell the prospective employer that you’re able to take on the responsibilities and tasks of the job, when in reality you WONT be doing that.

        Won’t be doing that for a set amount of time. Unless this is a short-term contract position that will only last during the entirety of the person’s maternity leave that person will eventually be back and will take on those tasks.

        There would be absolutely no point in hiring, say, a senior associate, with the expectation that she would be taking on a case load with more advanced work, just to find out she doesn’t actually plan to do the work.

        And that is why it’s best for people not to be upfront about their pregnancy until an offer has been made.

        1. Anon4*

          I hear you, but timing is everything. Lets say, again, we are hiring a senior associate because we unexpectedly got 50 new cases in from a client and all the other attorneys who are capable of handling the work, already have full case loads. This happens in my field. The person we hire then says, I’m 6 months pregnant, could go out on leave any second, and will be out for 2-3 months after that. And the work falls on someone else anyway. In a field where depositions are court ordered, court appearances are mandatory, clients expect consistent updates, and any screw up could mean the firm is getting sued for malpractice, this is a big deal.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Then don’t take on more cases if you’re not able to handle them all efficiently? Or proactively hire more staff so that one person being out for an extended period of time doesn’t create so many issues? You may not have the power to do either of these, and I acknowledge that, but someone above does and they aren’t managing well if they choose not to. It is ultimately their fault, then, if you’re left in a lurch, not the fault of the person taking their leave. If this were an established employee who suddenly became pregnant (or had another illness/emergency) and had to go on leave you’d find a way to make it work, so there’s no reason to hold a new employee accountable for the same thing.

      2. nothing rhymes with purple*

        Discrimination isn’t wrong until it would be more convenient. It’s wrong, full stop.

        Also, don’t subscribe to the Smurfette principle.

          1. nothing rhymes with purple*

            1) You described why it would be inconvenient for your company to hire someone pregnant. I am saying that it is still illegal to discriminate against pregnant people even when it would be convenient to do so.

            2) Undermining other women so that one can be the only woman in an organization is not a long term path to career advancement even though it may seem to produce short term gains.

      3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        What if the hiring process takes 2 months longer than you expect because you can’t find the right candidate? How is that any different than someone taking 2 months of leave shortly after being hired? It’s also incredibly short-sighted not to hire someone who may work for you for years because of a two-three month blip.

        1. Anon4*

          The difference is that the business has the ability to gauge whether they need someone now, or a very particular person whenever.

      4. Tali*

        You do realize that these are the logical ends to your thinking:
        1. It is disingenuous to to change jobs while pregnant because you will be absent for some time.
        Therefore, some women may be lying about their pregnancy status while interviewing.
        Therefore, interviewers should be extra careful about interviewing women of childbearing age.
        End result: Anon4, a 30-something childless woman, is asked inappropriate questions at her interview, or is not interviewed at all because as a woman she could possibly become pregnant.

        2. If a more senior attorney in my firm were pregnant, we would have to decide how to address her case load among the other experienced attorneys.
        Therefore, when a woman in a high-ranking or specialized position becomes pregnant, it is difficult to reassign her work to others.
        Therefore, employers should be careful about promoting or hiring women to high-ranking or specialized positions because they may become pregnant and cause inconvenience to the business.
        End result: Anon4 is denied or not considered for promotion to a senior role because she could possibly become pregnant and is therefore unreliable.

        Do you see how dangerous this kind of thinking is, for all women?

    35. anonforthis*

      Leave for any reason is inevitable and the law requires accommodation. Not just for pregnancy/parental leave, but for medical leave, and disabilities. Don’t make a value judgement on this – its just a reality of doing business and being professional means modeling that attitude at work. With a highly specialized skill set and small team, your best bet is to identify a backup that can step in should there be any interruption in staffing. In the U.S., should someone be affected with a condition that would be classified as ADA protected, we have to hold their job for six months. Family/medical leave requirements are three months (far too little). But we plan staffing interruption plans accordingly. There have to be wider margins when operating. It is not worth the energy to get bothered/flustered/upset by a person taking legally protected leave, and if you treat it like a normal part of business, not only are you in compliance with the law, people will be more comfortable giving you a heads up sooner, which allows for better planning.

      1. Anon4*

        Its not always possible, especially in specialized fields, to just have back ups in the wings just in case. Margins are tight in my field and hiring is done sparingly and as needed. A bad hire can affect our relationships with clients, as can transferring cases from attorney to attorney multiple times. Someone taking protected leave doesn’t bother me but it does affect me.

    36. plaintiff’s attorney*

      As an employment attorney, this comment would be a great exhibit to a discrimination complaint if you/your company discriminated against my client, a pregnant employee/prospective employee. Yikes.

      1. Anon4*

        I’m not suggesting it would be a good idea or legal, just that I sympathize with the issue of hiring someone to perform a task who then can’t follow through. No need to be condescending. My firm has never – to my knowledge and from what I can glean – discriminated against a pregnant employee. We’ve had quite a few attorneys go out on leave in the past few years. But have fun feeling superior about litigating a hypothetical lawsuit based upon an anonymous internet comment.

  10. Mental Lentil*

    Oh for ramen’s sake, people are allowed to have lives outside of work. As an employer, you have to expect that people will need time off for things. You’re hiring people, not machines.

    The only thing that matters in the interview is whether or not you can do the work and whether or not you want the position. Full stop.

    1. Anon Today*

      But companies prevent people from taking sick leave or vacation for their first 6 months, or year, or whatever, all the time. It is disruptive to have someone who is presumably coming onboard to give your existing staff some relief take their own leave immediately. Sure, people are allowed to have a life outside of work, but if you have to go through a whole hiring process again to backfill them, it’s going to take them much longer to provide any value to your team. So you are basically paying them/providing benefits for nothing.

      1. Redd*

        I’ve been a new hire who showed up to work badly concussion because I was too new to be allowed any medical leave. I have some permanent issues because I was hit in the head by a patient during that time. My point is, while you’re correct that companies legally prevent new hires from taking sick leave, it’s still deeply unethical and probably shouldn’t be legal.

      2. Black Horse Dancing*

        I understand your point. I feel bad for not pot stirring. It’s a good question and common situation.

      3. aebhel*

        Companies that prevent people from taking sick leave for a certain arbitrary amount of time are also behaving in a deeply unethical (and imo morally repulsive) manner.

  11. LC*

    Since OP didn’t end up applying, it’s not relevant in this case, but if someone does apply in this kind of situation, it would definitely be worth confirming their parental leave policies before accepting anything. Some places require a sort of waiting period before they’re eligible for certain benefits. I’ve seen anything from 30 days to a full year, so especially if you’re toward the end of a pregnancy, that would be a horrific surprise if you don’t find out before you accept an offer.

    (Of course, this sucks and I really wish places didn’t do this, but it’s unfortunately enough of a possibility that it should really be confirmed.)

    1. Snailing*

      Piggy backing here – I’m curious on the best tactic to ask this during interviews without making it obvious that you’re asking because you are/will soon be pregnant? Anyone have any tips?

      My gut would be to ask to see the handbook in full and ask specifically about leave policies for all sorts of reasons, but then as a 30-something woman, I still worry it would make them think “Hmm when is she planning to get pregnant?” and wouldn’t want that to count against me.

      1. Allypopx*

        I think if they’re going to discriminate against you as a woman of child bearing age, they’re going to do that regardless. Asking to see policies and benefits before taking a job is pretty normal.

      2. Mints*

        I think I’d white lie and say something like “My spouse’s insurance isn’t bad, and I’m curious about the nitty gritty of benefits. Could HR forward me all the benefits details so I can read through it?” Recruiters often have glossy summaries like “Great benefits! 401k matching!” but I’d ask for the HR/benefits person to give me the pamphlet with all the fine print. Although I think I’d wait until the offer stage and ask for it as part of my compensation questions. Plus if you wait for the offer stage, even if you’re forced to out yourself, too late for them to discriminate

      3. LC*

        When I was recently hired, when they called me with the offer, they sent me the full benefit handbook thing which did contain that information, so I was able to see it before accepting. It also had information about the vesting schedule for the money purchase plan, the time requirements to be eligible for a bonus, the fact that you’re eligible for health insurance on day one, etc., so if the benefits info doesn’t include anything about that, I think it would be reasonable to ask something like “are there any time requirements [or some better phrase] to any of the benefits before they become available?”

        It’s all good information to have anyway, and not focusing specifically on maternity or parental leave could help avoid that subconscious “hmmm they’re going to get pregnant, aren’t they?”

        1. Sal*

          +1. Anything you can do to hide the ball that you’re thinking about parental leave is to your benefit, unfortunately.

      4. Llama Llama*

        I’ve seen Alison answer this somewhere else and I believe she said when you get the offer ask to review the employee handbook. The answers about all sorts of leave related questions should be there and it won’t look fishy to ask to see it once you have a job offer.

      5. BRR*

        The usual answer here is ask when you have an offer. I know it sucks to have to wait that far into the process when it’s probably a big deciding factor, but unfortunately it’s just the reality of the situation since discrimination is so prevalent.

      6. Sal*

        Wait for the offer and ask to talk to an HR rep “about benefits.” I have done this twice in the last few years.

    2. generic_username*

      Yep! And FMLA doesn’t kick in until you’ve been there a year. It’s entirely possible that a reallllllly crappy employer could simply fire you for job abandonment if you take any sort of maternity leave after they hire you.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Askamanager is the last place you should come to to post exclusionary and incendiary crap like this.

  12. anonymouse*

    Dear OP,
    Ask your parents if a man needs to disclose that his wife is six months pregnant because he plans to take paternity leave when she delivers.
    And update us.
    a. mouse

    1. Liz*

      “Paternity leave??! Why in my day, dads would head straight from the hospital back to work. Kids these days…”

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yep. And they would smoke in the waiting room until the baby was born!

        What a different world it is now.

      2. Redd*

        My dad has mentioned how helpful it was that my siblings and I all came around after hours so he could get some rest and make it to work the next day.

        My mom just sighed.

        1. quill*

          My parents have a perennial argument about the daytona 500, because apparently I took my sweet time being bored and there was NOTHING else on TV that day.

          1. quill*

            *being born

            Though I’m sure the Daytona 500 failed to attract my attention on my way out of the womb.

      3. Mints*

        Painfully accurate. A coworker J was complaining about somebody else’s two week paternity leave (“His wife is home, why does he have to be home too?” somebody else: “To help his wife and to bond with the baby”)
        and J was like “No offense, but this generation is so weak in my opinion” And I had been holding my tongue so far, but at that, I turned around and said “I don’t understand why men taking care of their children is weak” and stared at her while she back tracked

      4. EchoGirl*

        My dad still tells the story that his boss looked like he was going to faint when my dad said he was planning to take ~2 weeks off for my birth. The guy had literally never had a male employee take more than a few days for a child’s birth.

        (This was in the 1990s but in a place that had a lot of 1950s-esque concepts of family and gender. Part of my parents’ decision to move to another state before my second birthday was not wanting a kid, and especially a girl, to grow up in that environment.)

      5. Galadriel's Garden*

        My husband’s company currently offers 2 paid paternity days off. TWO! He’s of course welcome to use up all of his vacation and sick time, but then again, they also only offer 7 paid days of maternity leave (!!!!!)…to say nothing of a complete lack of adoption policy anywhere (sorry, couples that can’t conceive! Sorry, gay couples! Sorry, those who used a surrogate!). Their CEO is an old conservative dude (who is still very much set in a 1980s single-income work mode centered on a nuclear family, clearly) who plans on retiring at the end of the year, so while he’s a very nice man, here’s hoping the company will evolve with the times with someone else at the helm. Two days of paternity leave is frankly insulting, both to my husband and to me, as it implies that he will not be partaking in childrearing in any meaningful way and that burden will fall squarely on me. My company offers four months of paid leave, so…looks like it will be at this rate. Ugh.

        His company did recently hire an actual HR person, instead of the Controller/CFO/HR kinda, so he’s planning to take that up with HR in the next couple months – like how on earth do they plan on being a competitive, attractive place to work with policies like that?!

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Two days? TWO WHOLE DAYS???

          My labor took over twelve hours with my first one, we weren’t released from the hospital for five days. Would my partner have been expected to just leave me there?

      6. CommanderBanana*

        Yep, he’d pause to light the newborn’s cigar before heading back to the mustache factory.

      7. pleaset cheap rolls*

        That’s one a silver lining about WFH under covid. Dad can work right from the hospital as long as the wifi is good!

      8. HotSauce*

        My mother told me the story about how when my grandma came home from the hospital after having her my grandpa asked what was for dinner. I know she wasn’t exaggerating because he did the same thing when she came home after having her cancer surgery a few years ago. My mom told him to go make his own dang dinner before she hit him over the head with the frying pan.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Your Mom is nicer than me, I probably would have whacked him one before speaking.

          What’s for dinner, my eye.

    2. thisgirlhere*

      Yup, this is exactly it. Most companies (and states that require it) have parental leave. That means both the person carrying the child and their partner will be out for x weeks. Yet no one would advocate discriminating against a man with a pregnant wife or insisting he must disclose in the interview.

      1. Anon Today*

        I haven’t seen any of the dads at my company take more than 4 weeks paternity leave at a time, since they are allotted 8 weeks to use as desired over a 12 month period. This makes it much more manageable when they can come and check in and get caught up a bit. They often take 2 weeks for the birth/immediate postpartum, 4 weeks when mom goes back to work, and then 2 weeks later in the year.

  13. Bee Eye Ill*

    Since this is an internal transfer, the OP should also be careful about who they let know about the pregnancy. Coworkers may see something on social media and it get back to the hiring manager and influence their decision.

    1. crchtqn2*

      YES. I have some coworkers on Facebook and Instagram. I have disabled the ability for people to tag me on posts so none of my private information will be out.

  14. Honeysuckle Sumac*

    It makes me so happy to see the phrase ‘pregnant people’ (instead of ‘pregnant women’). Thank you, Alison!

  15. anon for this*

    I think this is one of those unwritten societal workplace rules that “everyone” is just supposed to know: you just don’t apply for a position when you’re pregnant because it’s rude to take a new job and then be out for months. And I think it’s absolutely generational. It just wasn’t done . . . and you are just “supposed to” know that. Things change, norms change, as they should. But there are likely managers who (illegally) would think that it is deceitful and it would probably color their view of you. The thing is — you won’t know if you are working for one of those managers unless it happens to you (and even then, you might have zero idea why your new manager who seemed excited to hire you has soured). I bet it’s pretty common still in some industries . . . So me personally? I’d probably disclose, because I’d want to be sure they wanted me enough to hire me when pregnant. I’d want to know they are actually supportive of women and families and not just saying they are. But that’s me, and it’s definitely not the path for everyone! And since my kids are now older it’s not an issue anymore. (and FWIW I bet my current employer would fall into the category of says they are family supportive but really wants people butts in seats so I bet there’s unconscious bias there) It’s not toxic, but it’s smaller and there’s some problematic things (that I deal with because I have zero desire to change companies and am paid really well).

    1. OP Here*

      I’m the letter writer. This was one of my concerns when I was considering applying… even if I was “right” to not disclose, because legally they can’t consider it, if my manager and/or coworkers shared my parents mindset on this issue then I might have difficult working relationships moving forward (even if they were in the “wrong” that would still become MY problem in the new job). Not sure if there is any way to navigate that!

      1. Allypopx*

        Get your maternity benefits out of them and then start job hunting! “My boss dislikes me/doesn’t trust me” is a situation that can happen for all sorts of reasons, and in all cases it’s well within your rights to decide you won’t stay in that environment. And unfortunately that might not be something you can screen for before you’re hired.

      2. anon for this*

        OP, it stinks, and I’m not trying to minimize it! But I think it would be foolish to pretend that the possibility isn’t there. So it’s up to the person to decide if they want or need the job enough to risk it possible bad feelings over it. I also think (and again, this is just me personally), that there’s a lot to be said for having a stable, known quantity, do-able job when you’re pregnant. Because being pregnant has its own challenges (monthly and then weekly Dr appnts, possible sensitivities to smells/food/morning sickness, possible complications, tiredness, baby brain . . . ) I had 2 pretty easy pregnancies with only some morning sickness and I guarantee I wasn’t 100% focused on work during that time. And I had a demanding job, but a safe environment with awesome co-workers and a LOT of flexibility. NO WAY would I have traded that for an unknown quantity and starting a new job and all the focus that has to come with that! Again, that’s me personally . . . I would absolutely support a woman applying and starting when pregnant and not sharing!

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Not everyone gets the choice. I was laid off when newly pregnant. In January of 2009, if you remember the meltdown that was occurring then. My family needed to eat, so I needed to work, and my boss could just feel however they felt about the fact that I was taking time off to have a baby in my first year.

      3. Essess*

        Managers know the laws about pregnancy discrimination, so any reasonable manager would expect you not to share that during the interview process. If they do have a negative mindset, even if you’d disclosed and got hired, they are the type that is going to find other things to get bent out of shape about throughout the time you work for them so this is a really good way to know if this is someone you want to work under/with for a long period of time.

      4. Susie Q*

        FYI, I applied for an internal promotion at my company and just started at 27 weeks pregnant. I did not disclose my pregnancy prior to my interview. Only my previous manager knew and he encouraged me not to say anything at all about my pregnancy. He also encouraged me to apply for the position.

        My new boss has been incredibly supportive. She has encouraged me to take all the time I can and we’ve been working on a transition plan.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      But there are likely managers who (illegally) would think that it is deceitful and it would probably color their view of you.

      I’m not sure I would want to work for a manager like this.

      Because pregnancy is a thing that happens. Illness and accidents also happen. I have no idea why they should treat pregnancy any different. Someone who thinks like this is probably (I say probably, but this is from experience, as well) someone who doesn’t think the best of other people, and are just looking for ways that their employees are trying to screw them over.

      When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

      1. anon for this*

        right! Exactly why I would want to know about it up front – it’s not a person or a place I’d want to work for.

      2. Allie*

        I actually once had to cover someone who was out of the office because he suddenly got diagnosed with a very serious tumor and had to have surgery ASAP (and had a tough recovery after that). Stuff happens.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Exactly. A hiring manager would be in virtually the same predicament if she hired the not-pregnant new person, and then an experienced colleague suddenly had to go on leave.

          Shit happens. The way you prepare for it is by cross-training and having redundancy in staffing.

          1. 'Tis Me*

            Arguably they would be worse off – training and supporting a new person in getting up to speed takes time. Even when they don’t need active input, they are likely to work slower than an experienced employee.

      3. Pepper*

        I wouldn’t either, but sometimes we have to choose between employment under a terrible person and homelessness/no food/etc. It absolutely should not be that way but it so often is.

  16. crchtqn2*

    This happened to me recently. I was interviewing at a new company (that my old manager was at) and he mistakenly told me he already told his director of HR about my pregnancy. I had five interviews and one of them was with the Director of HR and I brought up my pregnancy and SURPRISE, she wasn’t informed. These interviews were just suppose to be a formality as they were going to let my old manager hire whoever he wanted as long as he had some leeway. WELL, guess what? The company has gone radio silent for two weeks and my manager said they were trying to figure out the FMLA issue (there is no issue, either they approve non FMLA leave for the birth or not).

    Do not reveal you are pregnant at the interview stage. More likely than not, they will discriminate against you. Luckily, I was able to get get a promotion at my current job last week (which I have NOT revealed my pregnancy to yet, for the same fear.)

    1. Mental Lentil*

      What an interesting juxtaposition between this comment and the one just above it.

      I agree, do not give them anything to discriminate against. You’re under no obligation to disclose medical issues during an interview.

    2. OP Here*

      I’m sorry this happened to you! It really does seem like there’s no way around the discrimination if it is known about (I think a lot of the other comments are showing this).

      1. crchtqn2*

        OP, I want to also give you another reason I have for giving this advice. Pregnancy is hard enough by itself, let alone trying to get a promotion or new job during it.

        It made me feel awful and have a negative thoughts about having a child for a whole week because of how it affected my chances at this new company. If I could, I would have NEVER let that director know, not just because it would hurt my chances but because I don’t ever want it to make me think that being pregnant is something to be ashamed of.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          I’m sorry this happened to you and that it affected your thinking about your pregnancy and impending parenthood. It’s not right, and not fair.

          The people feeling badly about this should be the individuals doing the illegal discrimination!!

          You have my ringing endorsement to name and shame them in Glassdoor reviews and social media posts (when/if you can do so without jeopardizing your current employment, of course.)

    3. Pepper*

      That is just utterly wretched of them. I am so sorry they treated you tht way an so glad you got a promotion. All good luck and an easy pregnancy and childbirth!

  17. AndersonDarling*

    I’d like to be picky about language. The OP isn’t “hiding” that they are pregnant. The OP is interviewing as a person with talent, experience, and education and those are the talking points for a career interview. Unless the OP is directly asked about their availability over the next 6 months, then they don’t need to bring it up.

    1. Dahlia*

      Eight weeks is also before most people announce at all, generally. (Not a hard and fast rule obviously.) Like even if you wanted to disclose, when’s the line? “Well I missed my period last week, so I might need leave in 9 months”?

  18. There's No Crying in Managing*

    I have a scenario I’d love thoughts on.

    I was on a hiring committee once where we very clearly outlined important dates for the role (think: running a conference with a standing date, participating in an annual board retreat, etc.) and our chosen candidate indicated that all those dates would work for her. After she accepted the offer (and had been briefed on all benefits, including the fact that parental leave benefits didn’t kick in until 6 months after the start date), she let the hiring manager know that she was 6 months pregnant and planned to take unpaid leave for 12 weeks and be out for 3 of 5 of the dates that were key for the role. HR didn’t want to push back because rescinding the offer could be seen as discrimination against her for being pregnant, but wasn’t the candidate acting in bad faith by confirming she was available when she really wasn’t? Or was HR right in not pushing back?

    1. learnedthehardway*

      There was no reason why you couldn’t have hired a temp for those dates, or reassigned someone else, right? If so, then HR was correct.

      1. There's No Crying in Managing*

        The person being hired had to have a specific government clearance and the hiring process takes a long time — there aren’t temps for this specific kind of position. Because of government contracts that mandate what clearance/certifications/etc. are required, it couldn’t be offloaded to someone else.

        1. There's No Crying in Managing*

          Adding that because we “had” someone in that role, we couldn’t hire a second person for that role, and her absence meant we were in noncompliance which created some significant issues for the company.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Sincere question: What would you have done if this person had been suddenly unavailable on those dates because they came down with an illness or were in a car accident?

            1. There's No Crying in Managing*

              Sincere answer, I’m not sure. This was in an industry that people just…made it work? I’m not saying it was the best workplace and I’m no longer there or even in that sector any longer, but the company had legitimately not encountered that issue before because it was essentially known that if x event happened, it was all hands no matter what. This was industry-wide, not just at this specific company. So I really don’t know, but it’s a great question!

              1. Yelm*

                Yes, exactly. This is a toxic workplace mentality, and it’s also foolish. If your workplace can only function if people act as though life does not exist outside of work, you have a poor workplace culture and poor management. Hiring a pregnant woman could potentially be a boon to such a company, because they’d have to come to grips with how ill-equipped they are to handle reality outside of their workplace bubble, not to mention the high burnout rate they are likely fostering.

                1. There's No Crying in Managing*

                  This is all dealing with government contracts, so I’m pretty sure we can agree that there are some very unreasonable expectations. With regulatory issues, it unfortunately becomes management working to meet all the crazy expectations so as not to run afoul of the contract. I’d love to give more details that would better illustrate this, but I’ve definitely already come closer to revealing the industry than planned. Anyway, there’s a reason I left! I am going to doubt workplaces such as that will change anytime soon, unfortunately, even with people like myself pushing for it.

      2. Not Alison*

        Right, because you want a temp to run a conference – – a job that you are specifically hiring a person with appropriate skills for. In your scenario, they may as well have just hired a temp to plan and run the conference right from the start. Oh wait, the temp they hired is also pregnant and you need to hire a temp to replace the temp.

        1. There's No Crying in Managing*

          And in our case it was actually noncompliant to have someone with different credentials run the “conference”!

    2. Redd*

      This is very different, to me, because the candidate misled you outright about their ability to perform a key job function.

      1. EchoGirl*

        I agree with this (and I think some of the other comments are being a bit harsh on the OP of the thread in assuming OP is just being inflexible rather than that they really did need that specific person available at that specific time). If you ask the person to confirm they’re available for specific dates and they say they are when they reasonably know they won’t be, that is misleading regardless of the reason. I understand why that HR would be a bit gun-shy about pulling the offer because it does get a little tricky finding the line and because the employee could cause a mess by claiming discrimination even if it’s eventually found not to be the case, but I don’t think it would actually be illegal for them to withdraw the offer; if a key piece of the job is to be available on those dates — especially when, as OP indicates farther down, it’s a one-time deal rather than a yearly thing — I would think they should be allowed to hire with that in mind.

        (Admittedly, I’m kind of thinking of this through the framework of the ADA, where being unable to perform key job functions even with accommodation is still a legal reason to not hire someone, but it seems to make sense here too.)

        1. EchoGirl*

          Adding on: I do understand that there could have been a last-minute emergency that could cause the employee to miss the dates anyway, but I don’t think that it necessarily follows that just because they can’t 100% guarantee no conflict, they shouldn’t try to prevent conflict to the best of their abilities — and similarly, I would imagine that the regulatory systems that the thread OP mentions might be somewhat more forgiving of a true unforeseen circumstance than of something the company knew in advance.

          1. There's No Crying in Managing*

            Thanks for this comment! Yes, the best way I can explain how important these specific dates were to the function of the job, I’ll make a few comparisons: You are hiring a biochemist and your candidate ends up not knowing the difference between carbon and nitrogen. You are hiring a computer programmer who ends up only having used a typewriter. This is a key function of the role and the overall role can’t be performed well or even at all without it.

            I’m all for women in the workplace having children (I do!) and am in firm agreement with the nondiscrimination laws. I’ve navigated it myself being pregnant! But this situation really stumped me at the time and clearly still does!

            1. CommanderBanana*

              “You are hiring a biochemist and your candidate ends up not knowing the difference between carbon and nitrogen. You are hiring a computer programmer who ends up only having used a typewriter.”

              …..what? Those comparisons aren’t analogous at all. If you 100% couldn’t hire anyone who couldn’t work those dates, put them in the job description.

              1. There's No Crying in Managing*

                They WERE in the job description. They were confirmed at every interview this person participated in. She confirmed each time and checked the box on the application that said she knew these dates were set in stone and that she could work them.

                Then, after she was officially hired, she disclosed her pregnancy and that she actually couldn’t work those dates.

                1. There's No Crying in Managing*


                  In any other circumstance, the offer would have immediately been withdrawn if the person could not work those dates. It is one of the key, non-negotiable criteria for the job, along with the aforementioned clearance levels/certifications/education.

                2. Yelm*

                  Still not the point. Presumably, if you’d hired a non-pregnant person and they’d been hit by a bus, you’d figure something out. The only difference I can see is that you have way more time to figure something out.

        2. Starbuck*

          The problem is that you can never actually guarantee that you’ll have a specific person for a specific date. You can make whatever policy you want, communicate whatever you want, but life happens. If there’s absolutely no plan B for coverage or backup or canceling/rescheduling, that’s a management failure. So it’s really unreasonable to fault pregnant people in particular for that management failure.

          1. There's No Crying in Managing*

            Management wanted backups, trust me!! The company was beholden to specific funding that outlined where every penny was spent and how many of each position there could be. Like I said above, I’m not saying that was good practice, because it clearly wasn’t! And all of management begged the funders for YEARS to have room in the budget for additional personnel. It was never approved.

    3. BPT*

      I assume that these were recurring yearly events she would have to plan/be part of, and you weren’t just hiring her on a contract basis specifically to run these events? Then no, she wasn’t acting in bad faith. This isn’t an unheard of scenario. I’ve worked at an organization before where our Meetings Manager, the person in charge of putting on two major meetings that summer, announced she was pregnant and due around the time of the first meeting. She tried to make it to the first meeting, but went into labor the night before. You know how we handled it?

      She still did the bulk of the planning. She documented everything and made it easy to hand off to her boss. There were meetings ahead of time to discuss how coverage was going to work. We hired a contract events management team to fill in some of the gaps. Because that’s just the way it goes. And it turned out fine. Yes, her boss was a little overworked that summer, but she was a great employee, and it was better to have her on the team than not.

      Would you ask every employee you have to confirm that they wouldn’t miss big events that happen every year? And would you penalize them if they happen to get pregnant? These meetings likely happen every year, and if they’re spread over several months, then someone is going to miss them at some time for some reason. You just deal with it.

      1. There's No Crying in Managing*

        No, these were not recurring annual events. They were specific to the workload within the first six months. No, we were not hiring a contractor, but we (thought we) were hiring someone to fulfill those specific duties within that timeframe. We were dealing with government mandates here.

        1. BPT*

          Well you mentioned an “annual” board retreat, which seemed to indicate that it was an annual event, and I wasn’t sure if you meant an annual conference or a one-time conference. But still, the answer remains. Because I’m sure every single year, there are important events and meetings your employees have to run or be a part of, correct? And there would be other years in which that employee would still have important duties? That wasn’t the only year that you had important things to do?

          So at the beginning of every year, do you go to all of your employees and say “you have to be at all of these specific dates, and if you get pregnant or get sick, that will jeopardize your employment here”? If not, what’s the difference? You would still have to work around people being out – nobody is going to say “hey, I’m planning on getting pregnant this year.” And for those that do get pregnant, its very common not to tell an employer until they can’t hide it anymore. So you’d be in the same position, unless you plan to fire every pregnant person you employ.

          1. There's No Crying in Managing*

            It seems my examples (which were fictitious) were wrong or poorly worded! For a closer example, imagine a once-every-five-years audit of key systems that must have a person with certain credentials to prepare and physically oversee the audit. This person was being hired specifically to take this on, then work on regulatory compliance to set up the company for success for the next audit five years from then. (Again, slightly fictitious but quite close.) It truly was that those specific dates needed to be open for the employee.

            I realize this seems like a pretty extreme example and I get the “what if there’s an emergency” thing (that I fortunately didn’t have to deal with in my time there), but in this specific sector this type of thing was quite common.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              Let me ask you this then: If this had been an established employee, who knew that these dates were important for them to be there, and they had gotten pregnant and been unable to work these dates, I’m guessing you wouldn’t fire them, yes?

              It sounds like there are issues here beyond your control in regards to whether or not you were able to have someone else trained in the role on standby in case they were needed, but ultimately that wasn’t her problem. I’m sorry, it does suck to get dinged when there’s nothing you can do to solve the situation.

              1. There's No Crying in Managing*

                Another great question! The company hadn’t dealt with that specific scenario so I’m really unsure. I mean, of course that sounds nuts to do, but these contracts had the org so penned in that I’m not sure how they would have suggested to handle it. The contracts gave no leeway for having a backup yet put high six-figure fines for not having that role filled on the specified date. I’m glad I’m not there anymore!

            2. I Understand Your Point*

              To my mind, dealing with an emergency if it comes up is different than someone misrepresenting their ability to perform key aspects of the job which were clearly laid out.

              1. Yelm*

                Except that disqualifying a candidate for their lack of availability (not ability, availability) for this particular reason is ILLEGAL.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I get the feeling that the candidate lied, but I overwhelmingly understand why.
      The reason I feel like this is okay is because I’m assuming those 5 dates aren’t the only important dates over the lifetime of that position, they were just the ones scheduled. There will be another 8 “cannot miss” dates in the next year, 10 after that, and so on and so forth. If you are investing in a great employee, it shouldn’t matter if they missed 3 out of 100 events.

      1. There's No Crying in Managing*

        Yeah, I do see your point. The next important “can’t miss” dates were unscheduled and likely to be five years + in the future so it felt pretty important that the employee be there for the already-scheduled dates!

    5. Generic Name*

      I’m working on a huge collaborative project with many players that just started. The project manager for the whole project is currently out on maternity leave. Her stand-in has been managing the project in her stead. She’s running meetings, etc. The first meeting we had introductions, and she listed herself as the temporary fill-in for the project manager. While it’s not super ideal the PM isn’t there from day 1, it isn’t a big deal, and I’m sure the project will go fine.

      1. There's No Crying in Managing*

        This would have been great if it were possible! There was only funding for one position and the credentials needed to be in the position weren’t something a temp would have (nor was there funding for one, not because of mismanagement by the company, but because of grant/funding stipulations).

    6. Cat Tree*

      I feel like there are several comments here similar to this, and while I think you are asking in good faith it really sounds like splitting hairs. “Oh, it’s not discriminating based on pregnancy; it’s about the inconvenient leave that comes after.” I think you need to treat it like any other leave for any other reason and accept that sometimes people will have lives that are difficult to schedule work around.

      1. There's No Crying in Managing*

        Not trying to split hairs! I am genuinely curious how it could/should have gone without the organization getting heavily fined, which is what happened.

    7. There's No Crying in Managing*

      It seems that the consensus is that it was not in bad faith for a candidate to confirm the dates that were contingent for hire, then disclose pregnancy and let the organization know that she would not, in fact, be available for those dates. If that’s the case, no harm, no foul, because she kept her position. (She was later fired for gross misconduct, but that’s neither here nor there.)

      I appreciate the replies! It was definitely a tough situation to navigate at the time and I wish it had felt more clear-cut…especially when that enormous fine came across our desks!

      1. anon for this*

        I am going to go against the grain here and say it was bad faith. At the very least it lacked integrity. Based on your extremely specific example, with these dates being specifically so important and not reoccurring again for 5ish years. I just can’t imagine taking a position with those specific expectations knowing ahead of time that I would be out at that time. Emergencies happen, or all kinds of unplanned life events. But this does strike me as a poor choice.

        1. There's No Crying in Managing*

          Hey, thanks! I agree with all of this and wish I had expressed myself this eloquently when I first posted!

      2. lemon meringue*

        To my mind, the situation was unfortunate but with all of the weird restrictions in play, it seems like it was inevitable that something like this would crop up eventually. The system seems designed to fail. Hopefully everyone they hire for that position has a great immune system and no caregiving responsibilities.

        As for whether the candidate was acting in bad faith, it’s a difficult question. In a world where pregnancy discrimination doesn’t exist, it could be seen as an integrity issue. But as it is, any job-searching pregnant people are just trying to survive a system that they know is primed to reject them. If you ask any employers how they feel about a new hire taking an extended leave shortly after starting, pretty much all of them would have reasons why it would be a major challenge for their team. So when you’re in that position as a candidate, I imagine it feels like there is no choice you can make that doesn’t risk seriously annoying your new boss.

        This is a scenario where I don’t think there is much value to determining whether the candidate was a saint or sinner. She was trying to work within a system that was never designed to leave room for the lives of its workers.

      3. Annea*

        What if the candidate had said no, she wasn’t available for at least one of those dates? Would the hiring committee have asked why; out of reflexive curiosity, or to see if it’s something that can be scheduled around? If so, then at that point she either had to lie to you about her reasons, and potentially try to deflect advice/solutions that wouldn’t work, or tell the truth – and hey presto you are now factoring her pregnancy into your hiring decision because you have that knowledge it exists.

        And pulling the offer or firing due to being pregnant and being unavailable on those dates would be pregnancy discrimination. Even if those dates are significant to the job, being present on those days is not the only work the role would be performing.

        Your situation sucked, but I can’t really see a way that either side ‘wins’ in this scenario – unless pregnant people are just expected to not have a career while pregnant/potentially pregnant, which is business winning at the cost of the individual.

        Out of curiosity, since your company did hire a pregnant person, how did they deal with them being unavailable on the important dates?

        1. There's No Crying in Managing*

          They dealt with it by doing as much as was possible without someone with proper credentials and clearance, failing an audit, and receiving an enormous fine.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      “HR didn’t want to push back because rescinding the offer could be seen as discrimination against her for being pregnant”

      It would not just be “seen” as discrimination, it would very explicitly *be* discrimination. Honestly baffled how many people here are presenting very direct “we want to not hire this person because they are pregnant” scenarios and somehow think that their scenario is not pregnancy discrimination.

  19. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I was pregnant but not public when I was asked to put myself forward for an internal promotion. It was a good fit and a great opportunity, but it was for a project that couldn’t have waited for me. Although I could have done the job well for the first six months or so, there was no way I was going to be able to see the project through. So I declined the opportunity. I could have taken it, and I would have been perfectly within my rights to do so, but I felt it would harm my long-term career aspirations. Given how I was treated when I came back from maternity leave, I think I was right.

    The gap between the law and people’s actual real-life reactions/behaviour is (1) why there needs to be law in the first place and (2) why people should not scruple to use it.

    1. crchtqn2*

      I’m curious, how were you treated after your maternity leave that lead you to believe your choice was the right one?

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Seems to me that you were treated poorly whether or not you took the internal promotion, so you might as well have taken it.

      Companies will figure out how to manage projects – any employee could have been in that position and been hit by a bus, had another job offer, whatever. Companies make it work when those things happen. They at least have some warning when someone is pregnant, that there will be a leave of absence coming up.

  20. Pikachu*

    I interviewed while pregnant because I needed better healthcare. I disclosed after I had a written offer. I think they were taken aback but it was never made an issue and we had several discussions about maternity leave in my early weeks in the role. It didn’t matter in the end because I lost the pregnancy in the second trimester. Had I waited, I would have had to go through that trauma in a job that was already draining my mental health. I can’t imagine what the medical bills could have been if I had the crap insurance my previous job offered. I was lucky in the worst possible way.

    My story is a sh-tty one, but it’s the reason I strongly believe that women should make the best career decisions they can despite pregnancy. We just don’t know what the future holds.

  21. Allie*

    My current boss was promoted into the job while she was pregnant. She’s been my boss for 6 years and will likely continue for longer, so that 5 months when we had a temp boss wasn’t a big deal. I know multiple people who were promoted and went on maternity or paternity leave within a year.

    I’m really glad I work for an organization that puts their money where their mouth is on work life balance and supporting people.

  22. OP Here*

    Letter writer here: I sent the link to this article and the comments to my parents and here was my dad’s response:

    “ When you run a business—especially a small business—and begin hiring employees, you will under why the older parents were/are right. As you well know, because something is a law doesn’t mean it is right.”

    And my mom’s:

    “ I think she said a lot of meaningless words. I disagree with her, as well. The purpose of hiring someone to fill a job is to have them do the job from day one, not disappear before they even get settled in. I think this scenario happened at [brother’s] place and it put a huge strain on everyone else in the dept.”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So … break the law then and illegally discriminate against pregnant people? I think that pretty much sums up what you need to know about your disagreement with them!

      1. OP Here*

        Yes, that does seem to be what they’re saying! They are both retired now but neither has searched for a job in 30+ years.

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        The problem is that OP’s parents don’t think it should be illegal. Sadly, their responses fit into so many other “business” justifications for discrimination in hiring that are still too common today:

        “Those types of people don’t fit our corporate culture.”
        “We only hire men since they don’t have to take care of kids.”
        “I can’t hire someone who is unavailable for so many religious holidays.”
        “That person with the disability? Will cost too much in health insurance.”

        OP, I doubt you will change their minds, but at least you can ensure that we all work in a far fairer world.

        1. lazuli*

          Exactly. “It just makes business sense to discriminate!” is the nonsensical justification that’s the reason we need anti-discrimination laws in the first place.

    2. Allie*

      *Long drawn out sigh*.

      As someone who’s covered naterbity/paternity leave and taken leave myself, let me tell you, workplaces that support people are far nicer places to work. There’s a reason no one leaves my job.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I’ve always wondered if places that are ‘better’ to work for actually make more money than places that don’t have good benefits or good retention or offer vacations. I’ve never seen studies or anything. I would think that even though those places pay out, they save money in retention, but I’m not sure.

    3. Pikachu*

      Poor attitudes toward parental leave are emblematic of American society. We are expected to worship our employers at the expense of our families. Sh-t attitudes toward parental leave put a huge strain on our whole freaking society. People have lives. They reproduce. Having a family is part of one’s pursuit of happiness.

      If your business can’t handle it, then don’t have a business. Simple as that.

      1. Allypopx*

        There are so many other things people are willing to acknowledge as a cost of doing business, the only reasons not to add this to that list are bad and discriminatory reasons.

        1. Pikachu*

          Right?? I mean, 40 other countries have figured this out. Wtf is the problem in this country?

          1. AnonKiddo*

            Birth rates are slowing down even in many countries with great maternity care. As women gain more education, birth rates generally drop.

    4. lost academic*

      If it’s truly that small a business, this law does not apply to them.

      If it’s not, they need to accommodate it.

      Your parents are big reasons why we need these laws.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Oof. Well, at least you know now not to get certain kinds of job advice from your parents.

    6. Mental Lentil*

      Ugh, the “but we’re a small business” argument again. So many things already don’t apply to small businesses (FMLA for example) and you still want to discriminate?

      I will take my chances elsewhere, thank you very much. (Which also explains why so many small businesses have “nobody wants to work any more” sign out front. Buddy, just pick yourself up by your bootstraps, get your gumption in gear, kick in that superhuman work ethic, and do it yourself!)

      1. Liz*

        I never understood this application of the law. Surely if government want to help out small businesses, the trick is to subsidise them to bring them up to the level of the larger competitors. Excepting them from the law is just going to cement them as being shitty places to work, and then fewer people will want to work for them because they treat their employees badly. I’m all for supporting local business, but are there really people who willingly sacrifice their healthcare and already minimal employee rights just to keep the local Mom n Pop in business?

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        “Do you offer benefits? Vacation? Decent pay? A set schedule? No? Well, hey, I think I figured out why no one wants to work—for you.”

        If your business can’t support your employees, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby that sometimes makes a little income.

    7. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’d advise your parents that “hiring someone because you need the work done” is the start of the conversation, not the end.

    8. Generic Name*

      Well, the upside is since they’re retired, they probably won’t be hiring anyone.

    9. AndersonDarling*

      Hmm…I guess the difference is viewing employees as disposable minions that are hired to do simple tasks, and valuing employees as talented individuals that you expect to stay with your for many years.
      If you are hiring great employees, then you shouldn’t mind if they miss a few months of work because they are bringing exceptional value to your organization. I couldn’t imagine rejecting the best talent in the country because they have a medical condition.

    10. Old Cynic*

      I worked for a small company and the owners were a generation ahead of your parents and a little more conservative.

      Their policy was to avoid any maternity leaves at all by hiring no married women under 40. Single women were permissible to hire because they wouldn’t be pregnant until after they married and they would probably quit then.

      And it “wasn’t discrimination because it was applied to the total group of women, not individual candidates.”

      The logic still astounds me 35 years later.

    11. Maya Elena*

      I think that this is an important perspective to see; that view can be a short-term one, and makes sense especially in a low margin business, in a difficult climate where a small extra expense is felt, and where it might be hard to hire anyone at all to do the job — which is a problem some commenters have mentioned in their industries in some contexts here. This perspective is not 100% invalid and one you shoudkyn just discard as Evil Bigoted Parents.

      HOWEVER: it’s risk you take and have to accept when taking on a job applicant; and the employer who gives you the benefit of the doubt now can likely count on your loyalty and will reap ebenfits from their risk.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        But that situation is not on pregnant people to solve. It may well be an issue, even a valid one, but that doesn’t make illegal discrimination suddenly become ok.

      1. OP Here*

        It’s funny you ask, this is actually another disagreement my dad and I had a few weeks ago! I don’t think it’s a polite question to ask because you never know what someone has gone through (multiple miscarriages, etc), and he insists it’s a fine question to ask people and overly sensitive to think that it could be rude.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Yeah, as someone who had a miscarriage somewhat recently, and has watched people I love struggle with infertility, please tell your father he is 100% wrong and to mind his own business.

        2. Pepper*

          If you haven’t already, you may want to put your parents on what Captain Awkward calls an information diet. All good luck.

        3. Redd*

          Oof. My third miscarriage was nearly six months ago and it is still so, so raw for me. Reading this sent a chill down my spine. I’m now waiting on some test results for kidney disease and cancer that may mean we don’t get to try again. I hope some day your father will reconsider. That question is loaded.

        4. DrunkAtAWedding*

          You’d think he’d realise his error if you found some stats on the rates of people who’ve struggled with fertility issues or sexism related to potential fertility, and therefore the number of people who would be upset by those questions. But, I would put money on him then claiming that those people are just being ‘overly sensitive’. Rather than concluding that, gee, if that many people find the question upsetting, maybe he’s mistaken in thinking it’s not rude, rather than that everyone else is wrong.

        5. Jules of the River*

          You’re absolutely in the right here! It’s a very rude question, not only because of the issues you point out but because the answer is personal and absolutely none of the asker’s business. In the past I’ve either given askers an earful or (when I didn’t have the energy) treated it the same as if they’d asked me about favorite sex positions (an offended look and coldly pointed subject change).

    12. EngineerMom*

      Yeah, still think your parents just have no clue how the *current* working world actually functions.

      If a company wants to have this kind of incredibly misogynistic view towards hiring women, they’re definitely going to be eliminating a very large pool of qualified candidates right off the bat.

      What happens if the “small business” hired an experienced guy to do the job, and he had a heart attack 2 months in and had to take 6 weeks’ leave to recover from open-heart surgery? At least with pregnancy-based leaves, you have the option of *planning* for the work disruption.

      What happens if the “small business” decides they’d rather hire the less-qualified recent male college grad vs. the visibly-pregnant mid-20s woman because of this view, and recent-male-grad gets in a motorcycle accident after he’s been on the job a year, can no longer do the work, and now they’re right back where they started, trying to hire someone? That’s a YEAR of wasted time training someone, and maybe getting quality work out of them (depending on how long adequate training takes).

      What happens if the young woman the “small business” hired 5 years ago gets married and wants to have kids, sees how her employers discriminate openly against hiring any pregnant women, and says “f this shit” and quits to work at a company that actually has a decent leave policy, taking all that experience and knowledge with her?

    13. Name of Requirement*

      Did they run or work in very small businesses? The implication that the company can’t possibly absorb the hit seems slightly more plusiable in a 3 man operation than a 50 person company.

    14. Liz*

      Wow! This is so irrational. Even if this is their viewpoint (can’t say I agree, but they’re entitled to their opinions) can they really not grasp that this is simply not how the working world operates any more? I mean, there will be plenty of employers out there who will disagree with the law, but I would imagine significantly fewer who would want to risk a lawsut by having a potential candidate reveal a pregnancy while interviewing. It puts the employer in an extremely precarious position regardless of their stance on the law, and does nobody any favors.

  23. Fancy Donuts*

    All this sounds right, but pregnant candidates are still in a terrible place because maternity leave policies may not apply immediately. For instance, I was pregnant when I interviewed for a job that offered six months leave (unpaid, but still) only after a working there for 6 months. I think there’s a waiting period for FMLA, too. So you may get the job but then not really be able to accept it, which is its own kind of discrimination. Obviously for OP she would have been staying at her company, so this wouldn’t be an issue for her, but it’s part of the general landscape of this topic.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yeah, that was something I warned people about when folks on the pregnancy forum I frequented talked about applying for jobs while pregnant: 1) you don’t have to say you’re pregnant; 2) if they ask, even if you’re as big as a dang house, it’s illegal; 3) be aware that you might not be able to get maternity leave.

    2. nerak*

      Yeah, I pretty much got the shaft on my maternity leave with my 2nd child because of that. I was hired when I was 4-5 weeks pregnant (and terrified of having another miscarriage), and the maternity leave policy consisted of 6 weeks unpaid disability and whatever other vacation/TO you managed to cobble together. I got a whopping 7.5 weeks of maternity leave because they wouldn’t allow me to take any unpaid leave. It’s absurd.

  24. Blackcat girl*

    I interviewed for a job and received an offer. I had just found out I was pregnant and disclosed this to my would be boss. He hired me any way and I was out on leave two and a half months. Returned to the job. I retired least year after 35 years.

  25. Nanani*

    Another one for the Never take Job Advice from Parents file.

    Also if your parents are in any position to hire, they are probably breaking the law and could be sued sooooo yeah.

  26. No Tribble At All*

    Tangent: if you’re interviewing while pregnant, when do you ask about FMLA stuff? Usually you have to be with a company for 12 months before FMLA applies. So typically you’d want to ask about stuff like that (pre-booked vacation during first few weeks) during the interview to give a heads-up and to make sure the company is aware. But, if you bring up “hey would you cover FMLA even if I hadn’t worked there a year” you’re basically disclosing that you’ll have a reason to use FMLA within the next year. If you don’t disclose and they won’t cover FMLA, what are your options, since you physically have to take time off to recover from pregnancy/childbirth?

    1. Sal*

      After the offer. Even though you would probably take yourself out of consideration for roles if the FMLA/leave situations couldn’t come up to snuff, you have to save it for after the offer. My strong preference (having done this twice in the last couple years) is to ask the person extending you the offer to refer you to a HR rep to talk about benefits. Then, you can get granular (and, to your comfort levels, hypothetical and/or specific and/or crystal clear that you’d like to ask the HR rep to consider being discreet about these questions with the hiring manager, because to whose benefit is it for the hiring manager to know this is on your mind, really? People don’t always get pregnant even when they plan to!) with the person who actually knows the answer.

    2. EngineerMom*

      You definitely bring up needed leaves after the offer has come through.

      I have experience with this – I negotiated a maternity leave that ended up starting 2 months after my first day. I did the interviews 5 months pregnant, but because the company took some time working out a few details, started the job 7 months pregnant. I told the hiring manager that I was pregnant when he offered me the position. I had a plan already – I knew he wasn’t legally obligated to comply with FMLA because I wouldn’t be there for the 12 months required. So I offered to do 6 weeks of unpaid leave. He was a little surprised, but said that was fine.

      I don’t bring up pre-planned/booked vacations during the interview, btw. I bring them up when discussing start dates, which is usually after the offer has been made.

    3. Lizzo*

      But FMLA can apply to all sorts of leave needs that are not pregnancy, including mental health needs.

      From the US Department of Labor website:
      “You may take FMLA leave to care for your spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition, or when you are unable to work because of your own serious health condition.”

      I think it is very fair to ask about FMLA as a litmus test for how the company handles leave needs as a whole.

  27. Maya Elena*

    It is a fact that the law and the values but up against reality. I support the law and understand why it’s there and the strategy that LW takes is correct. But the reality is that it is not an insignificant expense if you hire someone and then they’re out for a long time and not able to work at 100%, and you have liability if the employee then doesn’t work out, but can claim discrimination.

    Nothing is free and that money and time comes at someone else’s expense; reasonable business owners understand this and eat the expense, but it’s a lie to claim it’s negligible or that it doesn’t exist, and that employees can’t do dishonest things.
    So your parents are not wrong that it would rub employers the wrong way and the employer, in feeling frustrated if you don’t disclose a pregnancy, is not 100% off base in their feelings.
    But LW still took the right approach, and should only disclose pregnancy at offer stage and discuss logistics.

    1. quill*

      I mean, most forms of discrimination persist because if they’re allowed to continue, SOMEONE gets economic or political benefit out of someone else loosing out.

    2. Sal*

      Reasonable business owners “eat the expense” because they are required to by law, which was passed because we as a society decided that the costs of allowing allegedly-reasonable-and-justified pregnancy discrimination were outweighing the benefits. They’re not “eating the expense” out of the kindness of their hearts any more than business owners are “eating the expense” of complying with environmental regulations. It is rational and reasonable for them to comply with the law, and it is to their benefit, because getting sued (or nailed by the EPA) sucks.

    3. EngineerMom*

      That’s an incredibly narrow-minded way to look at this issue, one that starts from the assumption that a pregnant woman is solely responsible for her children and therefore will not be able to give her job her full attention.

      There’s a pretty substantial body of evidence out there that there are economic benefits to providing robust leave policies, from employee retention (you think it’s expensive covering a couple of months of maternity leave? Try re-training an entire new employee because your crappy leave policies drive the good ones out of your company), to employee satisfaction (satisfied employees are more productive, and more willing to work with the company during challenging times).

      In addition, robust company leave policies benefit taxpayers, by making it less likely that the mother/child will end up relying on public assistance, as the mother will be able to remain employed.

      The idea that a pregnant woman is only a drag on a company is one rooted in misogyny.

      Men end up being a “drag” on a company through unexpected medical leaves all the time, yet we don’t penalize them? My maternity leave was 6 weeks of unpaid leave. About a year after I took my leave, which I was able to plan for so as to have as little impact on my work as possible, my dad unexpectedly ended up with 6 weeks of disability (definitely NOT unpaid) from a job he’d had for less than 10 years. He had a heart attack, required open heart surgery, and very suddenly was unable to work for at least 6 weeks, possibly longer depending on his recovery (it ended up being exactly 6 weeks).

      A coworker at my current job is going through almost the same thing as my dad, except he ended up getting a week between the attack and surgery to try to transition what he could. He’s going on an undefined leave – we’re hoping he won’t be out longer than 6 weeks, but he could be out a lot longer, depending on his recovery.

    4. J.B.*

      My boss is currently out on maternity leave. We are getting along just fine (at least since our employer hired a much needed deputy a few months ahead of time!) A male employee who has never done the first thing is leaving. We are in a much better place now, and our boss will be back!

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      Your “reality” is the specific reason FOR the laws. Because people can’t be trusted to do the right thing on their own (as we have seen more clearly than ever in the last year).

  28. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    My Boomer mom had to bring in a letter from her doctor and a copy of her prescription for the Pill before her first job would hire her in the 60s. When she got married, she had to do it again. They didn’t just want to know that you were not pregnant NOW – they wanted two forms of written proof that you weren’t even thinking about it.

    There is a reason these laws were passed. There’s a reason most of us don’t want our employer involved in our medical or reproductive decisions.

    Incidentally, Boomer moms seem to have broken one of two directions. There are the Princeton Mom types, and then the ones who are still pissed that they weren’t allowed to be engineers or execs. (My mom is a weird mix of both: she’s a hardcore feminist, but she also really thinks ladies should wear gloves to church.)

    1. Red Swedish Fish*

      mine is ready to screw the government and any “Man at the top” any way possible, and is so excited when people get to. But hates that we use swear words.

      1. quill*

        All teachers of approximately my mom’s age end up becoming mildly socialist if they care at all about their students… and YET new data does not always penetrate old training about whether people are being “respectable”

    2. EngineerMom*

      Mine got to experience the awesomeness that was life before FMLA. Taught as a nursing professor at a prestigious university for 4 years, got pregnant with my little brother, who was due in the middle of the semester. Went into labor early. Was told “come back in 2 weeks or don’t come back at all”. Daycare wouldn’t take babies under 6 weeks.

      We were fortunate – my dad was in grad school at the time and writing his thesis (lots of time at home or in his office alone), and was able to basically be a stay-at-home dad for a month until my brother was old enough to go to daycare. I have no idea what would have happened if that wasn’t an option – we were thousands of miles from any of my parents’ siblings/parents, all of whom were still working full-time.

      She thinks it’s pretty stupid that all we have now is FMLA, even STILL. She’s made comments about how it’s better than the nothing she had, but basically still a slap in the face to working mothers.

    3. we are not amused*

      As a boomer who’s a mom, I am rolling my eyes at this rather gross generalization. I guess it is a joke. One of those jokes that’s not that funny…

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      My now 70 year old mother is a fire breathing feminist who can give an impressive 2 hour rant about how her first job (civil service) required any woman who worked there to be fired the instant they got married. She absolutely hates that ‘woman = childbearing full time’ assumption and is my fiercest supporter of me being childfree.

      She also tells me off, frequently, for swearing because it’s not ladylike :p

  29. Red Swedish Fish*

    No your parents don’t have the best advice here, but to be fair the majority of their work life was in another era when so much of now just wasn’t done. I don’t think their intention is to give you bad advice, or to harm your career. It is better for you to not disclose. That said know your job/role before you do. By that I mean if by trade your a tax accountant and your baby is due in January, if possible don’t start a new job and miss out on the busiest time of year when they think they are getting help for their busy season or at least don’t do it with a months notice. Otherwise its just something that happens in business people get pregnant, get covid, have appendicitis and need time off it is what it is.

  30. Yelm*

    “It’s not dishonest not to proactively volunteer information someone isn’t entitled to.”


  31. Spicy Tuna*

    I agree with Allison that disclosing a pregnancy during the interview process puts the employer in a tough spot because if they know the candidate is pregnant but turn her down for reasons unrelated to the pregnancy, it could create a legal headache for them.

    OTOH, if the candidate knows she is going to be out for an extended period soon after her start date, the employer should be able to factor that in to their planning, so a pregnancy should be disclosed as soon as possible during the offer / negotiation process.

    In the LW’s situation, it’s maybe a little different since she’s a known quantity and presumably people in her org know or can easily find out what kind of worker she is and how an extended leave would need to be factored into her training, etc.

  32. Irish MN*

    Some advice my parents have given me, and I definitely believe it to be true: do what is the best thing for you and your career. You do not “owe” your employer (or potential employer) anything except to do the work they pay you to do, to the best of your ability, and to do it ethically.

    This is true in many situations. I am 42. A couple years ago I worked with a young guy who had been in the workplace maybe 3 or 4 years. He put in his notice and the manager was really angry. He felt really bad. I told him what my parents told me. This company would let you go in a minute if they weren’t doing well financially, if they decided your position wasn’t needed any longer, heck any reason that isn’t illegal discrimination. If you see a better opportunity, you go for it.

    I think it is really, really important for all working people to realize this.

    1. Susie Q*

      This is my main piece of advice for anyone: “do what is the best thing for you and your career. You do not “owe” your employer (or potential employer) anything except to do the work they pay you to do, to the best of your ability, and to do it ethically.”

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      I remember telling people at my old job “You aren’t married to it.” And people would stop, stare, blink a few times, and then start making choices that were the best for them.

  33. morrisu*

    The OP may have been covered by FMLA since she was transferring within the same company but otherwise, she would have had to work for a company for a year before being protected by FMLA. My company is in an at will state and could fire someone hired that they found out was pregnant.

    1. Irish MN*

      Are you in the US? Because I am 99% sure a company cannot fire someone for being pregnany, whether or not they are covered by FMLA, how long they have been with the employer, or how large the employer is.

        1. Irish MN*

          I didn’t know about the 15+ employees. Does that mean that an employer could, indeed, discriminate and yet not be doing something illegal if they have 14 employees? (Pregnancy, even race or gender?)

      1. Irish MN*

        I should have added, at-will doesn’t mean they can fire you for being pregnant, just as they can’t fire you for being or non-white, non-male, etc. To fire someone for these reasons is illegal. If they can credibly say it was for another reason (and hell, even not-so-credibly if they don’t think they’ll get sued), there are employers who will, I’ll give you that.

      2. morrisu*

        Yes, in the US and work for a law firm. If a company in an at will state doesn’t want to keep a new pregnant employee, they can easily get rid of them. Whether for taking leave they haven’t yet earned or just because they’re a bad fit. Very easy to fire employees in at will states. Below is from a labor firm website.

        “If employees do not qualify for FMLA leave, but take leave anyway, an employer may fire them unless they have contractual protections, such as a collective bargaining agreement. Labor laws do not require employers to retain employees who cannot report to work, even if the reason is legitimate and out of the employee’s control. The same issue may arise for employees who qualify for FMLA time and exhaust their 12 weeks, and then are unable to return to work.”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, this isn’t accurate. If they wouldn’t fire someone for missing that much time for a non-pregnancy reason, they cannot fire them for doing it for a pregnancy/birth. And note that we’re talking about taking unapproved leave here, not firing someone for being pregnant (which is what the earlier post was talking about).

    2. EngineerMom*

      No, they can’t, actually. It is illegal to fire a woman *because* she is pregnant. See federal law: “The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978”. You can’t fire a pregnant woman only because she is pregnant. If she is still capable of doing the job for which she was hired, and you do fire her, as an employer you’d be at great risk of a lawsuit.

      There are certainly other circumstances that could result in a pregnant woman being fired (not being able to return to work within the time period specified by the new employer’s other leave policies, since she would not yet be covered under FMLA, for example), but residing in an at-will state does not make the federal law against firing a woman *because* she is pregnant magically disappear.

  34. EngineerMom*

    Holy crap, OP, your parents are completely out of touch with reality.

    It is NOT DISHONEST to refrain from disclosing a pregnancy during interviews.

    I was 5 months pregnant with my oldest when I interviewed for an engineering contract position (at a company that was way the hell less family- and woman-friendly than the company you describe). Due to some delays on the part of the company, my start date was only 2 months before my due date. So I showed up for my first day very much pregnant.

    I did NOT reveal my pregnancy during interviews – I didn’t look especially pregnant (yay first pregnancy!), and since I’m on the heavy side, my belly could very much have just been me being a bit fat.

    I did talk to my future boss about needing to take some kind of maternity leave during the first few months. Because I was contract, and would not have been there for 12 months at the start of the leave, officially he had no legal responsibility to give me leave, paid or unpaid. FMLA in the US sucks. But he did. I was the best-qualified candidate for the job. Being pregnant didn’t factor into it.

    1. Empress Ki*

      If an employer doesn’t have any legal responsibility to give leave, either paid or unpaid, how does it work at the time of giving birth? There’s no way someone is going to be at work while giving birth ! Can the pregnant person be fired ?

      1. FridayFriyay*

        You get ACA accommodation for the actual birth. Not as long as bonding leave but no, they can’t force you to work while giving birth.

      2. EngineerMom*

        My kiddo was born in 2008, ACA wasn’t a thing yet.

        Anyway, usually a company has leave policies in place to cover things like an unexpected medical event. Provided those policies are applied universally no matter the underlying cause of the event (childbirth, heart attack, etc.), I would imagine that’s what would apply.

        For example, one company I worked at didn’t track sick time, but if you were out for more than 5 business days in a row, you were required to obtain a doctor’s note about your ability to return to work. After 3 weeks, your access to company systems was suspended (could be reinstated when you returned from the medical leave). Once you ran out of accrued vacation, the time off was unpaid, unless you went through applying for short-term disability (which had its own limitations).

        That was universal, whether you’d been there 3 days or 3 decades. The exact details of how long you were off with or without pay would probably come down to the details of the medical recovery side of things.

        1. EngineerMom*

          Just read the correction of ACA to ADA! That definitely makes a difference.

          I’m not sure how exactly the ADA would end up applying in this case.

  35. Anniebannie*

    This is a little different since it sounds like the letter writer was applying for a promotion at the same company, but if you are in the US and in a state that doesn’t have any guaranteed parental leave, couldn’t the employer just fire you once you need time off after having the baby (since you won’t have worked there long enough to qualify for FMLA?) Or are there other protections in place to prevent that? Obviously it would be an INCREDIBLY crappy move, but I am just wondering from that perspective if it might make sense for someone who already has a job to disclose the pregnancy during the interview stage. That way if they are going to be discriminated against, it can be before they put in notice at their current job.

    1. FridayFriyay*

      ADA should protect the post-birth recovery for anyone who is doing the birthing. They can deny you the right to take bonding leave but some people go back to work anyways. FMLA is unpaid unless employers or the state have a paid leave policy so plenty of people can’t afford to take it as unpaid leave and do return to work more quickly than would be ideal.

  36. Michael*

    I have mixed feelings on the topic, but mostly because this situation left us in the lurch while actively trying to take care of an existing pregnant member of our team – that and a cascade of lies about due dates, etc.

    We were hiring a new assistant for a team that included two assistants. The existing, second assistant was heading out on maternity leave; and the nature of the new hire included explicit, time-specific assignments about providing coverage for the current admin going out on leave. This was know before any offers were extended. Came to discover that the new admin was also pregnant, on a similar timeline – only she lied and told us that she had a different, later due date. When baby came ‘early’ (and suddenly!) we were all very concerned about the mother’s health and folks offered to donate vacation time, etc…

    It was a very disappointing situation that completely annihilated trust in a very ‘trust-essential’ work environment. I understand that the new employee owed us very little – but the whole situation def. eroded the culture in the department for some time.

    1. FridayFriyay*

      Uh, what? Babies come early and suddenly all the time. Due dates get moved. Babies and birthing parents have medical issues that impact the timeline. Framing it as a lie seems pretty unfair. If your specific situation involved a clear lie (not at all clear from your comment) that is localized to that person, not a reason to be sympathetic to discrimination of this type writ large.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes this is all true.
        But I get the frustration. They hired someone to specifically cover another’s maternity leave, then that person ALSO goes out on maternity leave at same time, leaving no one to cover the role.

        I also get that hiring managers might have roles that have sat unfilled for months, so it feels frustrating to finally get to hire someone, only to have them go on maternity leave 6 months into the job, once again having no one in that role.

        Obviously, this is not the fault of the pregnant employee, but it’s still frustrating if it happens and your department is overwhelmed/overworked. And sometimes you can’t hire temps.

        1. FridayFriyay*

          It can be frustrating. No one can say it isn’t frustrating. But it is required, legally, to channel that frustration in a way that isn’t discriminatory to the current situation or to any potential future situation.

      2. kicking_k*

        Yes! Due dates are an approximation, not a promise. My SIL and I average a nearly six-week difference in the length of our pregnancies (she tends to be a month early, I tend to be two weeks late). And the date can even change midway, if the doctor changes her mind about how far along the pregnancy is at the ultrasounds. Shifting the dates about is really unlikely to be lying.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Babies are notoriously bad at math, and doctors don’t always get the timeline right for when you conceived. Unless you winkled your way into her medical records, which I hope you didn’t, how do you know for sure that that wasn’t the due date she was given?

      My mom was told my due date would be X and she insisted she knew when she’d conceived so I’d arrive three weeks or so before her given due date. She was right, the doctors were wrong, I was born full-term three weeks before the date her doctor gave her.

      Also, if your entire department’s culture was “eroded” because you think someone ‘lied’ about their due date, it sounds like your department’s culture wasn’t great to begin with.

      1. Rainy*

        I was full-term plus 2 weeks, back when they let the baby decide. A friend of mine ended up with a 34 week baby (scheduled C-section due to prior delivery problems) because he was huge and the femur measurements made them think he was 5 weeks older than he was.

        I agree–I don’t see any evidence offered that there was a lie, and the department sounds a bit back-bitey.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      As a person who was born 6 weeks before the designated due date, do you know for certain that the new hire was dishonest with you about their due date and timeline, or are these scare quotes just an indication that you’re speculating based on information you don’t have?

    4. CommanderBanana*

      Also, I had a boss who went into sudden labor three months early. Fortunately she and her baby were eventually ok, but she was in the office one moment and out the next way earlier than anyone had planned. It happens.

  37. Esmeralda*

    From one boomer to your boomer parents, OP: What the frack are you smoking?!

    I was up for a promotion in 1999, when I was 39. I absolutely did NOT tell my boss I was pregnant until every last jot and tittle of the expectations for the position were solidly set. And my boss was a good guy, with a genuine commitment to equity. Why didn’t I tell him? Because first, it was completely immaterial to my ability to do the job. Second, because I’m not stupid.

  38. Working Mama*

    I have job-hunted while pregnant twice. The first time I had to disclose it after a certain point (in-person interviews) because I was seriously showing and there was no real way for it not to come up. I have always assumed that my extremely high strike-out ratio during that job search (the worst I’ve ever had for in-person interviews, in 25 years in the working world) was directly related.

    The second time I accepted a job when I was about six weeks along and didn’t tell them until I hit the 12-week mark, a month after I’d started. No guilt whatsoever about that.

  39. Rez123*

    I have a feeling that this is not necessarily a boomer vs. Millennial thing or that their advice is out if date (I mean, I agree with others than it definately is not dishonest and law agrees). I think parents are thinking this from the point of view of a small business owner and how it will affect them whereas op is thinking from a point of view of an employee and how telling/not telling will effect getting the job.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      If a small business can’t be profitable without cheating their employees by paying a fair wage, or without discriminating against employees in some way, they shouldn’t be in business. Period. Their business model is flawed and should be scrapped.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Every tipping establishment in the USA should be out of business then. I agree with you but that isn’t going to happen.

        1. Autumnheart*

          But a lot more them are going to be, judging by recent headlines.

          Long overdue. We’ve been propping up exploitative business practices for far too long.

        2. DrunkAtAWedding*

          Yes. I fully support completely removing the tipping system and replacing it with a living wage.

          Full disclosure, I say that as a non-American who has never worked one of those jobs, so open to hearing from people who know more.

    2. Irish MN*

      I think it could be partly generational. I am not saying this applies to everyone, but from what I have seen, the boomer generation grew up at a time where loyalty to your employer was seen as important. That your boss/company would do the “right” thing by you if you did “right” by them (and I’m not talking about not stealing, more like if you’ve worked there for 20 years they won’t fire you to hire a new person who will work for less money, or they won’t fire you if you got hurt and can’t do 100% of your job).

      Maybe there were employers like that at one time (however, we are probably talking about small companies where the employer knew everyone, and I’m sure other issues were in play – gender and race discrimination for sure, which is why there are now laws).

  40. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    The problem is that OP’s parents don’t think it should be illegal. Sadly, their responses fit into so many other “business” justifications for discrimination in hiring that are still too common today:

    “Those types of people don’t fit our corporate culture.”
    “We only hire men since they don’t have to take care of kids.”
    “I can’t hire someone who is unavailable for so many religious holidays.”
    “That person with the disability? Will cost too much in health insurance.”

    OP, I doubt you will change their minds, but at least you can ensure that we all work in a far fairer world.

  41. momofpeanut*

    I was in your situation – had to leave my job at 13 weeks pregnant because my ardently pro-life boss was leaving anti abortion literature on my chair every day because I had disclosed I was having an amino due to my advanced maternal age and he felt it was an abortion tool.

    I didn’t disclose my pregnancy but was fired on my 5th day at my new job when I did. My boss said he “couldn’t accommodate a maternity leave” even though I had only planned on taking two weeks (as the sole support of my household). I found out quickly that there are no damages worth pursuing, as lost wages is about the extent of what you can sue for. By the time I was looking again, my pregnancy was visible, and I spent the rest of the pregnancy unemployed.

    He fought me on unemployment, too – and I got none because I had quit my previous job with less than a year of service in. Jerks gonna jerk.

    1. Rainy*

      I am so sorry that you had two jerk bosses in a row. That sucks, and I wish their feet many many Lego encounters.

  42. Zooey*

    I agree with Alison – employers should actually prefer not to know! I’ve actually interviewed someone who disclosed her pregnancy in the interview and I really, really wished she hadn’t. It really made me second guess our decision as I was worried that I was unconsciously weighing it against her (it was a situation where it would have been something of an inconvenience) and while I don’t think I did it would have been so so much better just to not have that information!

  43. Iamapatientgirl*

    My colleague who started in April disclosed during her first week – not before – and it’s a total nonissue. She had no way of knowing that our manager had been promoted internally to the position immediately before going out on her 4 month maternity leave (like literally, her last day before delivery was told she got the position, couldn’t have hid it if she wanted to) and wouldn’t have had a frame of reference to know how we’d handle it.
    I’m super excited for her, even if it means I’ll have a chunk of time where I’m doing the job by myself again! My only regret is that she won’t get our FULL benefit (16 weeks 100% pay) because she won’t have been there for a year. But she’s still going to get a portion of it paid in full.

  44. E*

    I totally get why it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnant women but as a childfree person in the workforce, it was incredibly irritating when my company needed another employee, and then hired someone who then had to take several months off.

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Yep. ANd you won’t get any thanks or appreciation for doing two jobs either.

      1. nothing rhymes with purple*

        I really hope that the next time you have to cover a pregnancy leave or for a parent that you do get the thanks and rewards you deserve. Because it’s not easy to do another person’s work atop your own, and anyone who does so competently deserves acknowledgement and rewards.

        But also because, judging by your comments, you seem to have a considerable grudge against people who become pregnant and have children. One day such a person is going to be in your power and I very much hope for their sake that your stance has softened by then.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Look at it this way – if you have a heart attack, get in a car wreck, or have to provide assistance to a family member for several months – you’d want to be able to take that leave of absence, right?

      At least with pregnancy, there’s a few months of notice (at least) before the baby shows up. If you’re left with extra work because someone went on mat leave, blame the company / management that didn’t plan for it, not the mother whose pregnancy was OBVIOUS for months before she went on leave.

    3. Yelm*

      This point of view is UNFATHOMABLE to me. What exactly have you contributed to the planet that you feel justified in resenting another person’s birth?

      1. DrunkAtAWedding*

        In the UK at least, the new person being born would someday be contributing to the healthcare and pensions of the adults working at the time.

    4. Admin Lackey*

      Also childfree and this is a wicked selfish point of view. We all contribute to society. “I totally get why it’s illegal to discriminate BUT…” Do you really not understand how bad that sounds?

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, very disturbing that this seems to be how a large percentage of the comments here start…

    5. onco fonco*

      It was incredibly irritating when our tiny company’s newest employee injured her back and was out for months, too. However, that’s mainly because we were chronically understaffed and the grandboss had no intention of employing more than a skeleton staff at any time, so we were already working 12 hour days and generally running into crisis at every turn. Put blame where it lies, not on the people who are just getting through life in a human body.

    6. Esmae*

      People take extended time off for all sorts of reasons, though. I’ve had coworkers suddenly need time off for cancer treatment, caring for a sick spouse, chronic health issues that unexpectedly worsened, plenty of reasons that aren’t pregnancy. It’s frustrating to have to cover unexpectedly! It’s okay to feel frustrated about it! But it’s not somehow worse to have to cover for a pregnant coworker than a coworker with any other health/life issue that takes them out of work for a while.

      (And I’m saying this as a childfree person myself — I’ll never be the coworker out due to pregnancy, but I could easily one day be the coworker out due to an accident or illness with a long recovery time).

  45. Raida*

    I don’t think that the pregnancy itself is important, however simply “I intend to not come to work for two months in the first financial quarter of this job” is important information.
    Not for all roles, however.

    If this were an Office Manager and the owner is interviewing, and this role is supposed to be opening the store while the owner is on holiday for two months – that’s a big issue where you would not be able to perform a core business part of the job at a critical time.

    If this were a Project Manager and there’s already milestones and meetings in place ready for the new person to slot into – this *could* be an issue but a good PM should be able to work forwards.

    If this is part of a team with decent cross-training – make sure when you start that all the process documentation is in place and in good nick, learn fast, shouldn’t be a big issue. Except when people have been waiting for the new hire so they can take holidays, that’s going to create some bad blood.

    I think in almost all cases that not disclosing a pregnancy is fine, it’s only outliers where a large *percentage* of overall work falls on the new hire that it should be considered due to the greater overall impact to the business.
    It does still suck for the team-mates who pick up the load and watch three months of recruitment equal only a month of work before being understaffed again for months, however it’s the individual’s responsibility to themself that matters when looking for work, in my opinion.
    We should make decisions considering the impacts on others, certainly. But I think that provided someone intending to take extended leave plans ahead they often can improve the overall processes and cross-training in their team while encouraging their team to also take the leave they’re entitled to. So it is really a good opportunity for everyone when approached responsibly.

    Obviously there’s outliers – like the lady at my work who went for a permanent position, got it, worked for three months then took a year off maternity leave, came back for two months and seconded to another dept for a year and a half, maternity leave for a year, then demand to step into her substantive role that’s changed while she was away and she’s not qualified for – simply stopping the business from being able to recruit for the role properly, destroying anyone’s trust in her from a work perspective, damaging her professional reputation since she fought to get rid of the person *actually doing the job* so she could have it for a fortnight before accepting that finding another role at the same pay grade elsewhere would work better *for her*…
    that kind of behaviour really colours people’s opinions of maternity leave, and it’s why someone hiring doesn’t need to know because it is memorable and not indicative of expected behaviour.

    1. Pepper*

      The thing is, there is no group of people who are all angels, and that includes groups who are discriminated against. I have been told about the Black employee who didn’t “speak properly” being why X person wouldn’t hire any more Black people, or the female employee who turned in terrible error-riddled copy and accused her boss of sexism for asking her to improve her SPAG, or the pregnant employee whose maternity leave timing was utterly terrible for everyone else being why Y employer wouldn’t hire any more pregnant people (see “Not Pot Stirring”‘s example above). But judging one person from a group by how another person in said group behaved is refusing to judge each person on their own merits, or in other words, discrimination. No one refuses to hire straight-White-able-bodied guys because another such guy was a raging lazy sexual harassing asshole, and it’s not justified to do so to members of any other groups either.

  46. employment lawyah*

    The simple answer: Laws usually reflect our social agreement as to the limits of morality. Pregnancy discrimination is (usually) illegal, therefore it’s immoral. And because it’s (usually) illegal to act on it, you don’t have to “warn” anyone about it. Done.

    That’s how I approach it when I sue.

    The complex answer, which is how it works in real life: Laws are imperfect, often very much so, and interests conflict. The current system trades off fairness for simplicity, by taking a social problem and turning it into an individual-employer problem. If you get hired for a job while pregnant, and you wouldn’t have been hired if they knew, then you’re imposing costs on the employer (in an economic sense.) You may not care, society may not care, I certainly don’t care, but it’s true nonetheless.

    After all: As things go, pregnancy discrimination is perhaps one of the few arguably valid reasons for discrimination. (Unlike “gender” or “race”, say, you actually can make a very cogent argument as to why a rational economic actor would seek to not hire a known-to-be-pregnant person, one of which is “at some point they will take time off, possibly a lot of time, and I would not hire anyone with those plans.”) Also, note that the benefits accrue to you and “society” but the costs all accrue to the individual employer… no surprise, really, that they all try to duck it.

    Of course, we can decide–and have decided–to make pregnancy discrimination illegal ANYWAY. But the illegality here results more from practicality and social goals, than (as with many other laws) from a desire to bar fundamentally-horrific behavior.

    Also (tradeoffs again) the interesting (nerdy) thing is that anti-discrimination laws are also incentives, and those incentives also conflict. The more that people CAN’T avoid hiring people they don’t want (pregnant) directly, the more that they resort to other proxies (young, female). See, e.g., the effects of “ban the box” laws. Which is worse is a whole ‘nother discussion. Also, disclosing tends to help filter out the employers for whom it would be an unusually high cost–again, for better or worse depending on your views.

    So in the end there are many schools of thought; one set of laws, and lots of interesting discussions.

    Don’t disclose if you don’t want to; you’re morally safe and legally sound. The law is clear. In my professional capacity I tell people NEVER to disclose, because I care only about them and not about their would-be employers.

    But OUTSIDE the law this isn’t black-and-white, so try not to be too hard on your parents if they take a more nuanced view.

    1. J.B.*

      So I just had an issue with a probably legal but definitely not moral situation where my employer was clawing back leave based on their error. Leave is there because employees are human. I don’t trust any employer! Sometimes I get sick and need time off.

    2. J.B.*

      And your entire premise and that of every “I support women BUT” poster ignores that you might gain anything by having moms on staff. I learned to manage my time very well and conduct myself with quiet authority because I had to.

      1. employment lawyah*

        The premise is more complex: It assumes that employers are both variable (like all humans) and rational actors with different desires.

        Any default is going to be wrong for people whose preferences don’t match the default. Some people may honestly prefer to work in an environment filled with sex jokes; or a fully-micromanaged environment where no employees have any schedule or predictability.

        An employer which prefers to hire A over B is sending a signal that they value one set of things (whatever that is) more than another set. If they don’t want to hire pregnant people (or white men, or Yankees fans, or X voters, or any other defined group) then that’s their preference. It is what it is.

        *YOU* may value those things differently, since you’re human and humans are variable. But that does not change the value to *THEM*.

    3. Despachito*

      You are right – we (Czechia) have a lot of protection measures favouring the mothers of young children, some of which are really great, and in theory, it is illegal to ask a new hire about anything related to their procreation – but in practice this means that if some employers can choose between a woman in fertile age and a man, all things being equal, they will pick the man, basically because he is less likely to take parental leave. And if they are not really stupid as to claim why they did that, the woman would hardly have a standing to sue for discrimination (they can always say that they were equally qualified but they picked the candidate who they felt would be a better fit personally or some other soft criterion).

      This is of course not valid for all, but it definitely does exist.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes, the nebulous “fit” that basically means “fit in by being the same as us i.e. not pregnant nor black nor female nor gay and you enjoy a pint on Fridays and a round of golf on Tuesdays” but you can’t prove it.

    4. DrunkAtAWedding*

      “Laws usually reflect our social agreement as to the limits of morality. Pregnancy discrimination is (usually) illegal, therefore it’s immoral.”

      I agree with your overall point, but not this specific statement. If laws=morality, we wouldn’t need the concepts of malum in se or malum prohibitum, because everything would be malum in se and nothing would be malum prohibitum.

      That said, this is very nitpicky, since I know ignorance of the law usually isn’t a defence for breaking it.

  47. Flutterby*

    First time poster. Wow. Shocked at the number of “I am definitely not sexist and absolutely understand and truly empathise why pregnancy discrimination laws are a thing! BUT here is my personal anecdote…” comments here.

    Neewp. Pregnancy discrimination is discrimination. End of.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      I’m currently 6 weeks pregnant and have been job searching for several months now, and really wish I hadn’t read this comment section.

      1. PostalMixup*

        To counter the awfulness:
        I interviewed for my current job at 6 months pregnant. I was past the point where the bump could have been an extra serving of cheesy fries at lunch, so I said, “I don’t know if you can tell, but I am six months pregnant, so I will need to be able to take maternity leave.” My now-boss said “That’s a thing that happens. We have policies for that, no problem.” And we moved on. I got the job, they threw me a baby shower, I took leave, I came back, I got a promotion just after small-fry turned one. And actually, when the HR rep called with the offer details, she mentioned that he specifically told her to pick a start date that worked so I’d have full benefits by the time the baby came. So don’t be too disheartened! There are good managers and good companies out there.

  48. Lisa*

    I guess I don’t understand. I have a job I need filled, but you won’t actually be here to do that job? And I am supposed to pay not to do it? Please explain to me how that’s right.

    1. DrunkAtAWedding*

      My (relatively uninformed, unresearched) understanding of it is….

      Well, firstly, we live in a world where woman are consciously and subconsciously thought of as “pre-pregnant” or “mothers-in-waiting”, no matter what our personal circumstances. For example, we’re prevented from making certain decisions about our bodies – like getting our tubes tied – for the sake of imaginary future husbands or imaginary babies we might someday change our mind about wanting. And, in terms of employment, that idea of all women as incubators-in-waiting has contributed to the odds being loaded against us when job hunting, which has, in turn, contributed to a much larger proportion of those in high-up roles being men, perpetuating the idea that it is right and suitable for only men to be there, and making it even harder for the women coming up behind them.

      Laws against discrimination are designed to get rid of that kind of prejudice and dismantle those systems. So, you can’t refuse to hire someone because they’re pregnant or because, in your opinion, they might soon become pregnant (since, for so many people, that opinion is based on the idea that all women are pre-pregnant/pre-motherhood at all times). After all, even if a woman is currently pregnant, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be the primary caregiver. Most of the time, women ARE the primary caregivers, but part of that is because we assume that they will be, which isn’t really fair to anyone. And what about men with pregnant partners? What if they want to take paternity leave and be the primary caregiver? If we want a system where more men consider that as an option – which I’m in favour of, I think lots of parents would like to have the option of being the primary caregiver – then we need to make it more normal to think about that. And with that in mind, it seems that we can either ask all men about the current and potential pregnancy status of their partners, or we could just…not ask anyone and just cut off that entire line of thought.

      I guess, from an employers point of view, the ideal employee would be totally dedicated to their job, have no other priorities, and never be sick. But that won’t be the case for any human being. So even though it is inconvenient for employers to hire someone who, within a few months, might take a large amount of leave (not even that much, in the US), or quit, the price of being prejudiced against women is so much higher that, on balance, our society (I’m British, but we also consider pregnancy a protected status which should not be discriminated against) has decided it’s better to risk the former over the latter. Not least since the latter harms all women (and those men who would like to be primary caregivers, and probably some other groups I haven’t thought of) and HAS been harming all women for centuries, and the former only slightly increases the risk of inconvenience to some employers.

      1. onco fonco*

        Yes. All of this. Our expectations are still coloured by the standards set generations ago by men with wives at home to take care of a lot of the human inconveniences. If we want to change that set-up, and we do, then we need to find workarounds. In the US, the approach seems to be to keep parental leave as short as humanly possible, and just limp along without the person for that time. I prefer my country’s approach. But either way, you can’t just expect people not to reproduce, any more than you can expect them not to break their leg two days into a new role. This is stuff that happens and companies need to handle it.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      And I am supposed to pay not to do it?

      Yes, the same way you would still pay someone who got cancer and needed to go in for chemotherapy, or would still pay someone who was hit by a car and needed to be out to physically recover.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes, it’s the law.
        But in my experience maternity leave happens much more frequently than other types of medical leaves of absence from cancer, accidents or surgeries, etc. And in most cases it’s not like other (non-pregnant) employees can take a paid leave for an elective surgery either. And pregnancy is elective.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Pregnancy is not always elective. People have unplanned pregnancies all the time.

    3. employment lawyah*

      You are partially correct. It’s not a great system.

      CONTROL is either nonexistent (illness) or with the employee (pregnancy, sometimes.)
      BENEFIT is mostly to the employee, for obvious reasons, but also to society at large.
      COST is almost entirely on the employer.

      This makes bad incentives. Employees (who bear no costs) have the desire to maximize benefits. Society has pushed costs onto individual employers, so there is little incentive to control or limit costs. Employers (who bear all costs but who are not enough of a voting bloc to fix things) have an incentive to try to circumvent discrimination laws. None of those are ideal.

      It would be better to have cost more broadly shared, and linked to benefits and lawmaking. If we (as a society) feel like women should have X weeks of maternal leave at $/week, we should just fund it from taxes. Then employers would not bear the costs. That would mean employers would have less incentive to discriminate against women in the first place, which would be a large benefit. It would also make people more aware of the costs/benefits, which would allow for broader social control of ultimate costs.

    4. Forrest*

      you have a business and you want me and the rest of society to support it? You want staff who’ve been educated at public expense? You want to use infrastructure like roads and cabling that’s been developed and built at public expense? You want me to come and work for you, or to be your customer? But you don’t want to employ actual people with personal lives and physical bodies to work for you? Please explain how that’s right.

      1. employment lawyah*

        Because there is too much variance. Here’s an example:

        Bob and Mary own identical stores.

        Bob has one employee get sick and another employee get pregnant. The coverage and costs end up costing Bob $100k.

        Mary has not contributed more to society. In fact, Mary isn’t even employing any sick or pregnant folks. But Mary is better off than Bob, to the tune of $100k.

        The way to counter that is to raise taxes–including employer taxes as well as individual ones–and generally fund sick/pregnancy leave.

        The rest of your comment makes no sense. Employers are also a crucial part of society: “you want to work at a job rather than living a hardscrabble existence as a hunter and gatherer?” A system which *randomly and variably* damages employers is a bad system.

        1. Forrest*

          If Lisa had said they wanted a state or private solution which would enable them to spread the costs of covering maternity with other employers, I’d totally agree. But if they see running a business as their personal profit-maker and don’t feel any responsibility to their employees, then yeah, I’m cool with them going out of business! If an employer isn’t providing decent work that enables their employees to live well, what’s the point of them? Why should I want them to stay in business?

          1. employment lawyah*

            I am curious: You appear to think businesses should “feel responsibility” to employees. Do you also think employees should feel responsibility to businesses?

            1. Forrest*

              No, because businesses are not people.

              I think we all have responsibilities to other people, and we should weigh those responsibilities particularly heavily where we have power over people. I don’t think businesses are a desirable thing to have in and of themselves: they are only desirable insofar as they provide a public good.

              If you aren’t contributing to society by providing decent work– and I’m using that as a technical term according to the ILO definition– what is my interest in your success? What is society’s interest in your success and why should you receive any support?

              1. Despachito*

                Does your “you” in the part “you aren’t contributing to society by providing decent work..” refer to a generic person or a generic business?

                1. Forrest*

                  It’s a response to Lisa, and anyone who thinks like them– so I guess it would be an owner, shareholder or profit-sharer who sees themselves as “paying for” an employee’s maternity leave and who thinks they have a right to run or profit from a business that doesn’t provide decent work.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      ah, right, yes of course why didn’t I think of that? you have a point!!!!
      Thinking about it, might as well ban all women from the workplace. After all, once there’s no longer any chance of them getting pregnant, they get the menopause and can be intolerable with their mood swings and hot flushes. And by the time that’s over they’re practically at retirement age, so they won’t have any work experience and they’ll be too old to learn. So let’s just make a blanket law banning women from paid work and be done with it.
      That’ll include women called Lisa, by the way.

  49. Learned the hard way*

    I was fired after employer hired me and later asked me if I was pregnant. Settled out of court later. Couldn’t find a job after that. And EEOC doesn’t apply to small companies. If they aren’t supposed to ask, you shouldn’t have to tell.

  50. DrunkAtAWedding*

    A friend of mine once told me she’d been present at a PhD interview and the PI had suggested rejecting a candidate because “she’s a young woman, she’ll probably want to have a baby soon”. Apparently no one had ever told him that rejecting someone for that reason is really, really illegal.

  51. CountryLass*

    I think the only time you probably should mention it to an employer, is if you know you are going to be on maternity leave during a known busy period. If I was hiring someone for a role, and they took the job knowing that they would not be available for the busiest time of year, I would feel a bit miffed. Disclose it at the offer stage, by all means, but to me this is like taking a job on a cruise ship and waiting til the day your board to start work to tell them that you need August off. They are trying to make sure their staffing levels are correct, and it would feel like you knowingly knocked over the tower.

    But, as a woman with a family, I get how worrying it is announcing your pregnancy to your boss. I felt I should tell mine when I went through IVF, as there was a chance, and in fact it did, impact on my work due to health issues. And I was sooo worried that due to the times I had had to start late due to visits to the clinic and a hospitalisation they would take the opportunity to get rid of me if it turned out I was not pregnant.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      It’s actually in the employer’s best interest that a person not disclose until the offer stage, as it doesn’t give the employer any information that they could (even subconsciously) use to discriminate against the candidate. You shouldn’t be hiring someone to make sure you have just enough staff; you should be hiring someone to make sure you have a cushion so that if anyone (including an established staff member) needs to be out (for any reason) you’ve still got the coverage you need.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, then if they’ve made an offer and suddenly retract it, you have good cause to argue discrimination.

        Whereas it wouldn’t be impossible to hire their second choice just for the time you might be off.

  52. agnes*

    Don’t disclose. You aren’t required to and you shouldn’t.

    However, don’t be surprised if you don’t get any special considerations. It works both ways. You aren’t required to disclose and they aren’t required to give you any special consideration that would not be extended to any other employee similarly situated.

    FMLA eligibility happens after 12 months/1250 hours of employment (provide company is covered by FMLA rules) ; and many parental leave policies only kick in after someone has worked for some specified number of hours/months. An employer is not required to bend those criteria for a new employee and although some will, many won’t.

    My own company, with extremely family friendly policies, is nonetheless quite rigid on this issue with new hires. We had a woman join the organization who had a baby 3.5 months after hire and was back at work as soon as her accrued leave ran out in 2 weeks. I thought it was harsh, but our HR department said they don’t make exceptions for pregnancy, because they don’t make exceptions for other types of medical issues for new employees. Once employees have been with us for a year, we have very generous parental and medical leave, flex/remote work, and a leave bank for people who have exhausted their own leave, but not before the year is up.

    Your leave may be limited to whatever you have accrued; and be sure to read the unpaid leave policy carefully, because, again, you may not be eligible.

    1. agnes*

      I am glad the job is within her own organization and so some of my suggestions may not apply; however some companies consider a new role within an organization to be new for qualifying for benefits not legally mandated. for example, The employee may qualify for FMLA but not qualify for special paid leave programs for parents. Read the policy carefully.

  53. Lily of the meadow*

    Some of y’all need to check your ageism. Discriminating because of age is also illegal, and some of the attitudes on display regarding older workers indicate an absolute willingness to perpetrate that illegality. Ageism is just as ugly as pregnancy discrimination.

  54. Susie Q*

    In addition: no pregnancy is guaranteed. Yes, after a certain point the risk decrease but there is always a chance of a medical complication, etc.
    Not to say that you should otherwise disclose but this point might make more sense to your folks: why tell an interviewer you’re pregnant/planning when it might not actually have an impact?

  55. Quickbeam*

    It’s certainly illegal. However in my career in the US, a maternity leave=more work for the rest of us. I’ve never worked anywhere that hired someone to cover a leave. It’s just “suit up, your work load just doubled”. And since I am in nursing which is 90%+ female, it’s a huge issue.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      But the blame for that lies with your employer for not making sure there is adequate coverage in case someone needs to be out for an extended period of time, not with the person who needs to be out for an extended period of time.

      1. Quickbeam*

        And yet I am the one left to do the work. I’m decades in and near to retirement. It’s one of my top reasons for retiring. Take a double patient load for 3 months and tell me you’d be happy with the state of affairs. It’s every hospital I’ve ever worked for.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I am sorry to hear that. It sounds like you’ve worked for employers who do not value their employees. My point still stands that the blame lies with them, not the person who is taking time off.

        2. nothing rhymes with purple*

          Wouldn’t it be even more difficult to cover the workload if you could have your pregnant coworkers fired?

  56. KatieP*

    I would prefer a candidate to *not* disclose that information. I’m fairly confident that it wouldn’t affect my decision, and I’m also aware that I have biases that I do battle with regularly. Our whole team has input on hiring decisions, and I’m not confident that everyone can overcome their biases all the time.

    Leaving that info out would make the process easier.

    Our office loves to celebrate – going from the Welcome Aboard! party to a baby shower sounds like a win to me.

  57. anonforthis*

    OP – you’ve gotten so much feedback in this fascinating comments section. I just want to join the chorus of voices saying it is not dishonest to not disclose your pregnancy during the interview process. As a person who identifies as a woman and has been pregnant three times in the last six years, I encourage you to not disclose until you are at the offer stage.

    In the grand scheme of things, three months (or however long your leave is) is a blip in a much bigger professional picture. I run a small-ish nonprofit and we feel every absence. But life happens. We’ve had people take multi-month leaves to have joints replaced, care for a dying spouse, and support an ill child in addition to take time for a new child. And frankly, these laws against discrimination exist because there IS pregnancy discrimination, and terminating people for being pregnant on a large scale results in a significant portion of our qualified workforce experiencing unjust inequities over their working lifetimes.

    Clearly there are managers/coworkers that may resent a new coworker that is expecting (based on this comment section), but there are many people that change jobs when pregnant and go on to be successful in these roles. From an ethics/integrity and certainly a legal standpoint, you can have a clean conscience that it is recommended and best practice to disclose your pregnancy at the offer stage.

  58. Despachito*

    Just curious – do I understand it correctly that in the U.S. it’s the employer who pays you your normal salary during your mat leave / any other kind of sick leave?

    1. Louisa*

      Mostly yes, but depends on the employer. Some employers offer short term disability insurance and the insurance company pays for the leave (usually a percentage of salary, some companies will top it off to bring you to 100%). A few states have paid family leave programs through the state funded by taxes on the employer and/or employee. And some employers offer a certain number of weeks paid by the company.

    2. SpaceySteph*

      Really really mixed bag.
      With my previous employer they had a third party insurance company pay my short term disability and I had to send my employer a check for the part of my pay they usually withhold for benefits (health insurance, etc).
      With my current employer they do the short term disability in-house so they sent me my paycheck and withheld my benefits as usual. My current employer also offers 1 paid week to all new parents (including dads, including by adoption, etc)
      Some states have set up a state-run system (maybe just California right now) that pays you similar to unemployment benefits.

      Also short term disability only lasts the first 6 (Vaginal) or 8 (c-section) weeks. Any additional time is from PTO or unpaid leave. Also not everyone has access to something like short term disability insurance, so some people are PTO/unpaid leave for any time they take at all.

      And finally, FMLA which is mentioned often permits leave and your job must be protected (return to same of equivalent position) but doesnt require any amount of it to be paid.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Oh sorry these were about parental leave specifically. For sick time its also a mixed bag… my company only offers PTO which we use for sick/vacation/personal/etc. Some offer a separate sick time bucket. Some don’t offer any.

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