Becoming a mother is a journey that can feel more like navigating a minefield than following a map. Doing so in a precarious work environment can make it even harder, and you might be tempted to ignore it. But do you have to tell a prospective employer that you're pregnant, or can you disclose that at a later date?
Gregory Chiarello of Outten & Golden LLP wrote on their practice's blog that "An employee has no obligation to tell an employer she is pregnant if it does not affect her work and she does not intend to take leave, request accommodation, or otherwise avail herself of the protection of the laws or company parental benefits." That means that as long as you're not doing something that would require disclosure, like horse racing or firefighting, and if you do not plan on taking leave, you don't need to tell your boss that you're pregnant. If you're a remote or freelance worker, you never need to tell your boss. However, if you plan on taking leave, be it for your appointments or your delivery and maternity care, you need to tell your employer. When and how you do so is up to you, and often, might be out of your hands if complications arise.
In addition to that, it is illegal for a potential employer to inquire about your status as a wife or mother, and also illegal for them to ask if you're pregnant, noted CareerBuilder.com. Because it's not required by law for you to disclose any disability, relationship status, or impending motherhood, it then becomes a matter of personal choice.
Headhunter Alice Rivera of Brooklyn, New York also warns against telling potential employers that you're pregnant — unless it's obvious. She tells Romper, "I wish I could advise you otherwise, but there's little to no upside of telling your possible future employer that you're pregnant. There might be exceptions to the rule where it doesn't make a difference to the employer, but by and large, employers will not react positively to learning that you're expecting." She says that they're going to be considering projects and the possible amount of time off you'll need, and also, they're probably wondering if you can perform in the same capacity you have been performing at up until you got pregnant.
Rivera says, "It's not just the male employers, either. It's employers in general. Having a pregnant employee is viewed negatively across the board in most occupations." She says that some jobs do require you to alert your employer upon hiring that you are pregnant for safety reasons (manufacturing, law enforcement, firefighting), but it's not required for you to tell them during the interview process.
While pregnancy is no longer the death knell to a career it once was, we are by no means living in a perfect environment for working mothers. It's important to take the time to look over the benefits package and handbook before accepting a position so that you can adequately assess the flexibility of the workplace, their willingness to work with the dynamics of parenthood, and also their maternity leave and family insurance policies. For instance, are they flexible about working from home some days? Do they offer any paid maternity leave, and how does one accrue sick time?
Something else to consider — child care. Some employers offer stipends for child care or have an on-site day care facility. Most benefits package offers will state these plainly. Also, do a little Googling. Find out if there's any pending litigation against them, or negative reviews regarding the many and varied aspects of parenthood. I once worked in a place that I found out, only after starting there, had a nasty habit of demoting and firing pregnant mothers while they worked for them by either means of not extending a contract, or limiting the work available for those moms. It's infuriating, but it still happens.
In the end, it's a choice you have to make. If you really want to discuss it with a potential employer, understand there are risks, and evaluate whether or not it's worth it before you do.
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