Ask Carla: Should I tell potential employers I’m pregnant?


Special to the NNPA News Wire from the Houston Forward Times

Q: I’m pregnant! My husband and I are overjoyed but, I was planning on changing jobs in the very near future. With the new addition to our family it’s going to be even more important that I get a new job. Should I tell new potential employers that I am pregnant?

A: Congratulations! With all the changes going on in your life (like your growing belly and the ever-expanding responsibilities that come with it), it may seem insane to want to add another to your list. But there are dozens of valid reasons why an expectant mom might consider a job change. Maybe your employer isn’t family friendly and you’re concerned about balancing career and motherhood upon your return. Maybe the commute is too long, the hours inflexible, or the grind all-consuming. It could be that you’re bored (and hey — change is in the air, so why not make the most of it!). Or perhaps you’re worried that your workplace is hazardous to you and your baby. Whatever your reason, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons thoroughly before you make a job move. Here’s a few to consider.

Beware of the grass-is-greener syndrome

It may seem as though other workplaces have better benefits and perks that are far more generous than yours. And that may indeed be the case: Some companies are more flexible and family friendly than others, and it’s in your best interest to know your options and find the best ones for you. But make sure you understand the total picture before seek out another job opportunity. Does the company you’re interested in offer twice as much vacation time, but also charge double for health insurance? Do they allow people to work from home, yet expect them to be on call morning, noon, and night? Are the salaries far higher and, likewise, the travel demands? Also bear in mind that companies often offer fewer paid short-term disability days (STD), or pay a lower percentage of your salary during leave if you have been employed for less than one year. If the grass is truly greener on the other side of the job hunt and if working elsewhere will make your pregnancy, maternity leave, and return more manageable), go for it.

Be realistic.

Looking for work takes time and energy, two things you may be lacking these days as you concentrate on having a healthy pregnancy. Typically, you’ll be asked to come in for several interviews and meetings before an offer is made. Starting a new job also demands a great deal of concentration (all eyes are on you, so you have to be extra careful not to make mistakes), and you should be certain you have the stamina and commitment to take these steps.

Consider full disclosure.

Should you tell your potential employer that you’re pregnant (if it isn’t obvious)? Legally, he or she has no right to ask, or to deny you an offer in light of the news. But that said, some companies simply can’t bring you on and let you leave so quickly. And not all employers appreciate what they consider to be a bait-and-switch (you tell them you want to work there, and then after you begin you tell them you’ll be out on maternity leave). While it may be smart in the short run to keep your pregnancy a secret, it may damage your relationship with the company in the end.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s better to get the offer first, and then discuss the future once you know they want to hire you. Assess the pros and cons so you can make a thoughtful decision. What if you started a new job before you found out you were pregnant? Be frank about what happened and get down to doing your job. Just make sure you know your rights about job security should the situation take a turn for the worse.

Finally, my best advice to you is to be wise and make a move only after giving it much thought. And remember it is usually easier to find a job when you have a job.

Carla Lane is the President and CEO of LaneStaffing, the largest minority owned employment solutions provider in the southwest United States.