For most people, job searching is quite the task. Add a pregnancy to the mix and you have a whole new set of considerations and challenges, from selecting which jobs to apply to, to finding interview outfits that fit well and make you feel confident, to scheduling interviews around appointments and side effects, to deciding if or when to disclose your pregnancy to interviewers, to analyzing benefit coverage, to knowing your rights. Read on to learn my key tips and considerations on how to find a new job while pregnant.
Know Your (Current and Potential) Benefits
Pregnancy and caring for a newborn come with a unique set of needs that require certain benefits. Consider what you’ll need for health insurance, time off while pregnant, and maternity leave. When job searching, do your best to get an idea of the benefits a company can offer before you even start fielding offers. This means doing your research on the internet and asking current employees.
If you’ll require health insurance, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) rules that any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as expenses for other medical conditions. However, pregnancy requires many appointments which run up in cost. Assess what your co-pays and premium as well as pre- and postnatal coverage currently looks in addition to coverage from prospective employers.
Depending when new employer benefits kick in, you might need to use personal time or unpaid time off for doctor’s appointments and maternity leave. If you’re looking to get time off under FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) after you have your baby, the law stipulates you must be working at a company with over 50 employees for at least 12 months to be eligible. Though many companies go above and beyond the requirements of FMLA, oftentimes, maternity benefits don’t kick in until someone has been employed at a company for at least 12 months. If you’re already pregnant when interviewing, you may face a significant gap in benefits until coverage kicks in.
Depending on your current situation, it may be better to stay at your current job to take advantage of existing maternity leave benefits, if you have them, rather than leaving and potentially losing them.
Decide If and When You’ll Disclose Your Pregnancy Status
When you’re pregnant, a having baby bump is practically unavoidable. Regardless, you are under no obligation to disclose your pregnancy to a future employer. My advice? If you want to disclose your pregnancy, do so when you’re fielding offers.
If you disclose during the interview process and you were not given an offer, it will be near impossible to ever determine if you were passed over for a job because of your pregnancy or for another reason. Per the PDA, it’s illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a woman if pregnancy was a motivating factor in the decision. However, despite the law, biases against pregnant women are still very real, and you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you could be questioning the legality of a hiring manager’s decision without being able to prove discrimination. Even if you’re visibly pregnant during your interview, you have no obligation to talk about it, and it’s illegal for a hiring manager to question about your pregnancy and family status.
Once you’re at the offer stage, it’s clear the employer has chosen you as the best qualified candidate. If you disclose your pregnancy at this time, you avoid the presumption you pulled a bait-and-switch, and you also open the door to negotiations. You can try to negotiate for more/flexible time off and other accommodations. It’s also an act of goodwill to be transparent and help them prepare ahead for the time you’d be on leave. Disclosing your pregnancy when you receive an offer also discourages an employer from rescinding the offer, because that would be illegal. However, if your offer gets rescinded, there is a case that the employer has broken the law. In this case, consult an employment attorney.
You may also choose to tell your employer and colleges once you are hired. Keep in mind, the risk of waiting until you start your job to disclose is that they may feel you were dishonest in your interview process. They may also feel resentful and stressed if they have to address onboarding and forthcoming departure.
If you’re still in your first trimester and you haven’t yet told friends, there’s no need for a total stranger interviewing you to know. If you do accept an offer and start working, go ahead and announce your pregnancy when it feels like the right time for you. If your employer asks if you knew you were pregnant when interviewing, simply say you’ve just started announcing it and you’re very excited.
It’s totally up to you when you decide if or when to disclose your pregnancy—just understand the certain repercussions you may face when disclosing at each step of the job search process. And remember, you are never required to disclose your pregnancy at all.
Be Realistic About Managing Your Energy and Expectations
Consider how far along you are in your pregnancy, how demanding your current job is, what your pregnancy symptoms have looks like to date, and why you’re looking to change jobs.
When it comes to your wellbeing, especially when pregnant—you don’t want to push it. Do you have more energy? Less? Are you sick frequently? Are you managing complications? Are you able to balance work and appointments? Are you giving your pregnancy the attention your body and your baby need? Consider if adding job search would add significant stress or create a healthy outlet for you.
No matter where you are in your job search, leave lots and LOTS of room for unpredictability. You might face a very early birth or late stage complications, or anything else that would impact your ability to find a new job.
The decision to job search while pregnant is one you need to revisit many times throughout your pregnancy. Your answer at 12 weeks may be different than your answer at 20 weeks and 30 weeks and so on.