I had a question come in a few weeks ago and it prompts a good discussion about whether or not you should apply for new roles when you are pregnant. “Will they offer me the job if they know I am pregnant?” was the question posed. I offered up the very gray answer of “It depends.”
So “it depends” is based on several different factors which I’ll outline below.
#1 Are they Neanderthals who aren’t very interested in following the law?
If so, anticipate that if you have a visible baby bump you will probably get turned down. If you are not yet showing this puts you in the seat of whether or not you will disclose that you are expecting. We’ll cover how to handle that scenario a little later.
Regardless, if you already know that they are Neanderthals and you have other options to pursue – DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME. Why would you want to work for a bad company/boss anyway if you have a choice to go elsewhere??
#2 Are they pretty decent folks who just may be uninformed?
If so, anticipate a little nervousness on their end and be armed with knowledge of laws protecting expectant mothers. Also think through plan of how you would manage your new job while you’re out on maternity leave.
#3 They are very family-friendly, excited about your pregnancy and would be willing to work with you to make it all a glorious experience.
Fill out that application TODAY and be ready to honestly discuss the implications of being out on maternity leave and share your proposal on how to make it all work.
As I mentioned above, there is one scenario that is completely in your court – do you tell them you are pregnant if it is early enough that you aren’t showing physical signs?
I say “yes” but do it after the offer is made and before you’ve accepted the job. In my book honestly is always the best policy and starting off a working relationship with a big secret under your shirt probably won’t bode well in the long term. Go through the interview process and knock their socks off. If you make it to the point where you are negotiating an offer, speak with the HR representative handling the posting and explain your situation. Why the HR representative and not the hiring manager? Because the HR representative is more apt to know what to do and ensure the laws are followed. That way they can also counsel the hiring manager on next steps.
What happens if after you tell the HR Representative or the hiring manager that you’re pregnant they rescind their offer? I recommend you move up the chain within HR to ask if there is some other valid reason that they are now not interested in having you join the team. It could be that they ran a background check and found out that you really don’t have an MBA from Harvard. In that case they are fully within their bounds to disqualify you for the role… you lied.
If their reasoning seems fishy, you have another choice to make. If you are applying for a role within your own company you have recourse through HR or your Legal Department. Pursue that route to get answers. If the role is external to your current company, you can pursue legal counsel from an attorney or contact the EEOC but I recommend that you go in with eyes wide open. Starting off with a new company by bringing your lawyer in tow may not set the stage for a long and meaningful career.
You may decide to just stick it out in the job that you have today and pursue new opportunities after the baby is born. That sounds a little defeated but let’s be real – what is the most important thing happening in your life right now? Having a baby and keeping the job you have or risking being unemployed for the chance of making a few dollars extra per hour?
As always, I’m interested to hear real life stories. You may also have some tips to share. Looking forward to comments on the topic.