Q: I am 17 weeks pregnant and have an incredible opportunity for a new job. I will be going for my second interview and I am not sure how to handle this with my potential new employer.
A: This sounds like a very attractive opportunity for you. This dilemma is indeed a challenge for a job seeker. However, pregnant women get hired every day for new jobs.
1. Continue the dialogue
First, continue the dialogue with your prospective employer. Make sure that this role is a good fit for your skills, your compensation and other “must haves” on your priority list.
2. Be “in the know” in advance
It would helpful to review their benefits information prior to accepting any offer to better understand their benefits offerings.
Additionally, you should be aware that you may be eligible for some time off for your pregnancy but probably will not be eligible for 12 weeks of time off under the Family and Medical Act (FMLA). There are certain eligibility restrictions for FMLA. One is being employed for at least 12 months and having worked at least 1250 hours in that 12 month period. Additionally, companies employing under 50 employees are not required to follow this law.
Here is a link to a fact sheet published by the Department of Labor on FMLA. http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28.pdf
Assuming you are a Massachusetts-based candidate, you may be entitled to some protection under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA). There are also some eligibility restrictions that you should know about with MMLA. Here is another helpful link that will provide you with additional information about MMLA. http://www.mass.gov/mcad/maternity1.html#3
3. Be candid at the appropriate time
I think the best course of action is to continue with the selection process. If you are offered the job, I would disclose your pregnancy when and if you accept their offer. However, I would also be prepared to discuss your plans to return to work to minimize any concerns that this employer may have. Organizations run the gamut with how they handle these situations. Unfortunately, some hiring managers may be irritated or annoyed that you kept this information from them until this point. Others will be thankful that you disclosed this information and you also eased their concerns about your return to work. It also helps with planning and coverage should you take time off.
You are likely protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (under Title VII). A helpful link for more information about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-preg.html
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
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