"Should I Disclose My Pregnancy in A Job Interview?"
By Pira Kumarasamy
Pregnancy should be a joyous chapter, but that joy can be overshadowed if you’re in the midst of a job search. The reality is that starting a new role that you’ll need to train for and subsequently leave within several months isn’t ideal for many employers. Although you are not legally obligated to disclose your pregnancy to a prospective employer, there are certain scenarios in which it might make sense to let them know about your situation.
I always thought that when I got pregnant, I’d already be with an employer long-term and happily go on a maternity leave. It’s the ideal scenario but it’s not always the reality. In my case, due to life circumstances I was in the middle of a job hunt when I got pregnant, and it certainly complicated my search in a few ways.
Here is a trimester-by-trimester look at the job search process and important aspects to consider as your baby bump continues to progress.
The first trimester
In your first trimester, you have plenty of time to find a role, delve into it and make significant contributions before taking your maternity leave. Don’t be afraid to search for jobs at this stage, and it’s completely fair not to disclose your pregnancy.
At this stage, it’s important to really think about the type of role you want and take into consideration the daily demands and the hours you’ll be working. Make sure to find a flexible employer that will understand your needs over the next several months, including regular doctor appointments.
In my first trimester, I scheduled an interview with a marketing agency that was notorious for less-than-ideal work life balance. After careful consideration, I decided to forego the interview because I knew that the stressful work environment paired with a long commute wouldn’t be healthy.
The second trimester
This is where it gets a little complicated. By the second trimester, you may be showing a bit and your working months are slowly coming to a close. There’s no need to halt your job search at this point because Service Canada entitles you to maternity leave if you’ve worked at least 600 insurable hours over the year prior to your pregnancy, or the equivalent of about four months. If you’re nervous about starting a new role at this point, switching your focus to contract roles could be an ideal way to get your EI hours without the commitment.
When it comes to disclosing your pregnancy at this point, the main consideration will be how you want to be perceived by your future employer. As mentioned earlier, you are completely within your rights to not disclose it, but how will you feel if you have to begin your relationship by telling your employer that you’ll be leaving within three to five months?
In my situation, a contact came through for me when I was five months pregnant and landed me an information chat with my dream employer. During the chat, I completely hit it off with the manager and couldn’t bring myself to bring up the (baby) elephant in the room. After giving it some thought, I sent a follow up email and gave him the full picture and told him I wouldn’t be comfortable remaining in the competition. I felt better having done it, and to my surprise he insisted I come in regardless and informed me that if I were a top candidate, I’d be given the group’s next job opening without having to interview.
The third trimester
For obvious reasons, this is the toughest part of your pregnancy in which to look for a role. Health-wise you will likely be drained, and employment-wise you’ll be a tough sell with your fully – baked belly. Contracts are still an option, but you’re also coming to the end of your EI window.
The verdict? You have many post-baby working years ahead of you. Sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.
A final word
Pregnancy shouldn’t be stressful, and if you plan carefully and prioritize, it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to disclosing a pregnancy during the job hunt, the choice is yours. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t affect your prospects for employment, but the reality is that it does.
At the end of the day, the most effective way to break through the pregnancy barrier is to be the best candidate -baby or no baby.