Job hunting while pregnant?
Let me tell you, it’s certainly not easy. What do you say? How much can you say? When is it too soon (or too late) to say anything about your growing bump? And most importantly, legally, what is an employer allowed to ask you?
Whether this is your first time preparing for parenthood or you have several children at home, it can be challenging to navigate interviewing while pregnant. You might feel stressed, but you certainly shouldn’t feel bad for pursuing new career options at this time. After all, it’s 2023 and women really can have it all: a beautiful family and a thriving career.
It’s important to consider what’s right for you and your situation. Understanding the workplace laws in place to protect expecting mothers will assist you in planning your interview strategy.
As a family-owned and family-focused company, the team at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) works with mothers all the time to help them understand their rights regarding information disclosures, paid leave, accommodations and benefits.
In this article, we’ll provide you with tips for interviewing while pregnant — including different factors to consider and questions to ask. We’ll also help you understand your rights as an expecting mother during employment interviews and in the workplace.
Should You Tell Employers You’re Pregnant?
Based on The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer can’t ask if you’re pregnant, nor do you have to disclose it. Introduced in 1978, PDA states that individuals can’t be discriminated against due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. That means you can’t be looked upon unfavorably for being pregnant during an interview. Employers can’t fail to hire you because you’re pregnant. (Keep in mind that employers with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from this act due to their small size.)
Any questions alluding to pregnancy whatsoever can be considered pregnancy discrimination. That includes asking questions about your family or your future family plans.
So, what should you do? While it’s ultimately your decision whether you disclose your pregnancy, we have some information to consider as you determine the right move for you.
Option 1: Tell Potential Employers You’re Pregnant
Telling potential employers you’re expecting comes with some benefits and there are a few reasons you may decide to disclose this information.
The first, and most obvious, reason is that you might be noticeably showing during your interview. Chances are, you didn’t smuggle a mini watermelon under your shirt to the interview. Employers — though they can’t ask about it — may notice you’re pregnant the closer you are to your due date when you interview. Therefore, you may decide to be upfront and let them know you’re expecting.
Often during the interview process, you’ll have a chance to notify the employer of any vacations or upcoming absences they should know about. Just like you’d notify the employer you have a vacation planned in a few months, some women decide to let the employer know they’re pregnant and will soon need to take time off.
You may wish to disclose your pregnancy during the interview to ensure you’ll receive the accommodations you need. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), in effect as of June 27, 2023, states that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.
Unless providing accommodations would cause “undue hardship on the operation of the business,” accommodations must be provided to pregnant individuals or those dealing with medical conditions related to pregnancy.
Disclosing your pregnancy during the interview process can build trust with your employer and will help you feel more honest. You’re being upfront right from the start and you’ll be viewed as trustworthy.
The company you’re interviewing with may be openly family-friendly and supportive. This may help you feel comfortable opening up about your own pregnancy.
One of the primary reasons women disclose their pregnancy while interviewing is because they’re concerned about the employer’s benefits package. The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a new child if the employee has been with the employer for 12 months or longer (and worked at least 1,250 hours). Employees should also be able to return to their job (or one of equal salary and benefits) after their leave. This act is only applicable to private employers with 50 or more employees.
However, FMLA is an unpaid leave of absence. You may wish to disclose your pregnancy to find out if the company has paid time off available while you utilize FMLA (ex. short-term disability or paid maternity leave). Some states mandate paid family leave.
While the employer can’t ask you for personal details about your pregnancy, they can tell you which benefits you will and will not be eligible for if you’re employed with the company.
Option 2: Keep Your Pregnancy Private During Interviews
You may decide not to tell the employer you’re expecting for a number of reasons, and that’s okay too.
For starters, you may have just found out you’re pregnant. Maybe you haven’t even told your friends and family. If you aren’t ready to tell your loved ones, you probably don’t want to tell a potential employer, either. Many expecting parents don’t make an announcement until at least 12 weeks into the pregnancy.
Other women decide not to disclose their pregnancies because they’re worried about discrimination, even though it’s illegal. It could be because they don’t know about the laws in place to protect them. You may feel like your pregnancy will outshine your qualifications and skills.
You may choose not to disclose your pregnancy for a variety of reasons. It’s a personal choice and you’re not legally obligated to disclose it.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing While Pregnant
If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, there are questions you may want to ask during interviews to understand how the employer will support you.
When preparing for an interview while pregnant, it's important to gather information that will help you make an informed decision about the company's policies, benefits and support for working parents. Identify what’s most important to you and what will “make or break” a job for you.
Here are some questions you may consider asking:
- What is the company's maternity leave policy?
- Can you provide information about any additional benefits or resources available to expecting or new parents?
- Are there any policies or practices in place to support a work-life balance for parents?
It's essential to phrase these questions in a professional and respectful manner. The interview is an opportunity for both parties to assess the fit, so don't hesitate to ask questions that are important to you as you plan for your future as a working parent. Consider at what stage in the interview process is most appropriate to ask these questions.
You may or may not feel comfortable asking some of these questions depending on the company’s environment. For instance, if the company doesn’t seem very family-friendly, you may not want to ask these questions.
Ace Your Interview
Before you go into any interviews, we encourage you to understand your rights and protections as an expecting mother — before, during and after family leave.
Familiarize yourself with laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the Family Medical Leave Act and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act to understand the legal framework that safeguards your rights.
Deciding whether or not to disclose your pregnancy during the interview process is a personal choice. If you choose to disclose, it can help build trust with the employer and allow for discussions about benefits and accommodations. However, if you prefer not to disclose, it is within your rights, and you should focus on your qualifications and the fit for the job.
When preparing for an interview, consider asking questions about the company's maternity leave policy, work-life balance initiatives, childcare support and professional growth opportunities for working parents. Tailor your questions to the specific needs and concerns you have as an expecting or new parent.
Remember, it's important to approach the interview process professionally and respectfully. While some companies may have family-friendly policies and a supportive culture, others may not, so gauge the company’s culture and adapt your questions accordingly.
Ultimately, by being informed about your rights, asking relevant questions and making an informed decision about when and how to disclose your pregnancy, you can navigate the interview process with confidence and find an employer that aligns with your needs as a working parent.
Now that you know your rights, it’s time for you to get ready to ace your next interview. Check out these 13 tips that will help you put your best foot forward.