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Should You Divulge Pregnancy
I obviously feel I cannot be upfront about the situation during interviews with potential employers without being discriminated against. But I would also feel dishonest accepting a position without telling an employer the truth, especially since it will become increasingly hard to hide in the coming weeks.
Do you have any advice on how and when to address the situation with a potential or new employer?
I think honesty is the way to go. I think a good company will look at your background and skills and won’t make the pregnancy a deal breaker In fact, by law, a company can’t make your pregnancy a deal breaker.
“But wait a minute,” the cynical among you are thinking. “Isn’t that a little naïve? They don’t want a new employee who is pregnant. What if she has to miss a lot of work during her pregnancy? Who is going to fill in for her while she is on maternity leave? What if she doesn’t come back after we spent months training her? What if she has child care problems and develops an attendance problem?”
Fair questions, and certainly questions every employer is wondering, even though they can’t ask them out loud.
We all know discrimination is illegal but we also know it is alive and well. So, I asked Mary Cyrier, Vice President of Human Resources for Schwarz Pharma, Inc., a global pharmaceutical company, for her opinion on the matter.
|'Two months into the job, if she hasn't said anything, they'll think she doesn't have integrity'|
" Not only is it the honest thing to do, two months into a job, if she hasn’t said anything, they’ll think she doesn’t have integrity. And that’s a poor way to start a job.”
Because the employer is concerned about your short and long-term plans, it would be wise to answer the unanswered questions. I recommend waiting until late in the interview to make your announcement.
For example, assuming the interview goes well and the job seems like a good fit, ask questions about the training period. That subject will give you a good segue into your condition. I wouldn’t announce it with an apology or big fanfare; simply state it as a matter of fact.
But once you have made the announcement, quickly follow it up with a plan.
Cyrier agrees: “The employer shouldn’t ask questions about it because that’s illegal, so raise it for them Be proactive and jump in with, ‘Let me tell you what my plans are for child care. Beyond day care, I also have my mom and neighbor who are willing to care for my child as a back up. And I’m healthy, so I’m fortunate that I’ve had no problems during my pregnancy and haven’t missed any work.’
"And since she wants to work and needs the money, she could say, ‘I like to work and I have a very supportive family that enables me to do that. I also need to work for financial reasons.’”
To get in the door, Cyrier recommends a well-rehearsed explanation for the lay off.
“It’s going to be looked at by employers, who will wonder what the circumstances are.” Be sure to mention any factors that contributed, such as, “The entire department was outsourced,” or, “They are moving several parts of the business to the home office in Minneapolis.” You want to make sure they understand it was circumstances beyond your control—not your performance.
Cyrier recommends looking for work in larger companies:
“Medium-sized and large employers won’t worry so much about health care costs and they won’t have as much trouble finding coverage during her maternity leave. Smaller companies may have some legitimate concerns about those logistics. And while it would be difficult to make an iron-clad promise that she will come back after the birth of her baby, it would help her candidacy if she can legitimately say, ‘I learn things quickly and since I’ve done this work before, I am confident that I’ll be able to come right back and jump into the job.’”
Your attitude will be more important than your pregnancy. If you’re confident about your skills and what you can bring to the employer, your short-term condition will fade as their desire for you grows.
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