Pregnancy can be one of the most wonderful times of your life, and it doesn’t mean you need to put your career on hold until after the baby arrives. Searching for a job while pregnant is common, with many future moms looking to find a better position for their new life, whether that is a job closer to home, with better benefits, or a more flexible work-life balance.
However, interviewing for a job while pregnant can be very stressful, and due to several labor laws, most interviewers walk a tightrope around the issue. Luckily for you, the law is on your side, and you can decide what, if anything, you want to say about your pregnancy.
Rebrand your pregnancy to show you are a committed, professional worker. Discuss your pregnancy and maternity leave through the eyes of someone who can plan, organize, and anticipate business changes. You should also question your prospective employer about what they offer in terms of benefits and expectations.
Know Your Rights
If you are a pregnant woman interviewing for a job, several laws protect you from discrimination and restrict what any company can do or say. Two laws protect you in these cases: the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. These laws strictly prohibit:
- Exclusion or termination due to pregnancy or possibility of pregnancy
- Denial of employment due to pregnancy
- Singling out pregnant women or stereotyping pregnant women as less able or not as focused at work
- Stereotyping women as primary caregivers or more interested in child-rearing than work
- Assuming working mothers or pregnant women won’t be able to keep up in a fast-paced environment
You are also entitled to:
- 12 weeks maternity leave, though it may be unpaid
- Reasonable accommodation for breastfeeding
- To continue working as long as you are physically able
There are certain exemptions from some of these stipulations for companies with less than 15 employees and companies with less than 50 employees.
You are not obligated to disclose your pregnancy with your prospective employer at any stage of the interview process or while employed. A hiring manager or interviewer can legally ask if you are pregnant, but you do not need to answer if you are uncomfortable doing so.
What Companies Are Concerned About
Companies want to ensure that any prospective hire will continue to work during and after their pregnancy with minimal disruption to the business. They don’t want to hire someone who will leave after their pregnancy. They want to hire a long-term employee and might view pregnancy as a potentially unknown factor.
Different-sized companies will have varying concerns as well. If you are interviewing at a large corporation, you would likely be one of hundreds or thousands of employees. This makes it more likely that the company will have an established maternity leave policy to manage your absence.
If you are interviewing at a smaller company and are one of 20 employees, your absence represents a 5% loss of work. This means the company is exempt from some legal requirements and has extra concerns regarding filling your position and financing maternity leave.
What You Should Be Concerned About
Going through the hiring process pregnant gives you a unique window into a company. Remember, job interviews go both ways, use this opportunity to see if the company has the right culture and atmosphere for you.
If the interviewer is negative about your pregnancy or uses small talk to hint at your future motherhood, this is often a red flag. If they are not forthcoming about maternity leave or make it clear they see it as a burden, regard it as a window into their company culture and work-life balance.
Have a Good Plan
Job hunting while pregnant can be challenging, and it will require a plan on how best to tackle the issue with the hiring manager. It is your choice when or if you tell your potential employer that you are pregnant.
If you want to establish firm boundaries between your work and professional life, consider not discussing the pregnancy, even if you are showing. Use any probing questions as an opportunity to show you are a professional and keep your work and private life fully separated.
However, you may prefer to be fully transparent from day one. Arrive at your interview with a detailed plan of how you will approach pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, birth, and maternity leave, as well as contingencies like 3rd-trimester bed rest and potential home life challenges that a working mom faces once the baby is born.
This sets a precedent for honesty, candor, and forthrightness that many companies see as an advantage. It is illegal to deny employment based on your pregnancy, so many feel that honesty is the best policy.
You can also wait until you have a job offer to disclose your pregnancy. This allows you a degree of privacy with companies you aren’t interested in while also allowing you to examine the full suite of benefits and leave policies before making any decision.
Make the Best Move
Pregnancy is a beautiful time of change. Though it may be stressful, it could be the right time to make a career move to a job that is a better fit for your changing life. Jobsfuel.com is your resource to find the perfect job for your career, goals, and work-life balance. Check out the thousands of jobs and search your area for a job that’s right for you.