One PSP member asked:
“My husband and I are considering having a second kid, and amongst the other factors we are considering, the fact that I have been unemployed since March of 2020 is a big one. Our son is in preschool now full-time, so I have really only just got my arms around the job search process, but the idea of applying for jobs while actively trying to get pregnant, or recently becoming pregnant, makes me feel duplicitous. I know that technically, and legally, if I am hired for a job and a couple months later they find out I am pregnant there can be no official repercussions, but it feels somehow sneaky, and not the best place to start off a professional relationship.
On the flip side, we are not independently wealthy and so while we've been okay with one income, the idea of having a second kid without a second income seems irresponsible (and stressful), and the idea of restarting the job search process after we have the second baby and I have stayed home for a while after that sounds all the more daunting...
The kicker is that I am also already 41, so if we are going to have another kid, it's going to be soon (now). Waiting until I find a job and then feel more established in that job is not really an option.
I am wondering if anyone would be willing to share their experience with this (from the applicant or hiring perspective), advice on timing, etc. Also yes I realize a lot of this is the fault of living in America with no parental leave/guilt about parental leave etc, etc, but here we are.
Thanks so much, I sincerely appreciate any and all perspectives!”
Let go of the guilt and go for it.
“I totally understand where you are coming from, but wanted to encourage you to let go of the guilt and go for it. I have hired someone on my team who had her baby one month after she started with us and she took the 12 weeks of leave that she was entitled to. A 12 or even 16 week leave is nothing - nothing!! - compared to having a great person on your team. I know several others who have done the same - taken a job and pretty much immediately had a baby, and/or gone through the whole interview process and not revealed they are pregnant until after the job offer is in hand - and any person or company worth working for will not hold this against you.
Women get punished enough trying to job search during their childbearing years - many companies won't give you any leave or the full amount of leave if you get pregnant within the first year for example - so there is no need to feel bad about it on top of getting screwed over. Companies always look after their own interests and you should look after yours too without guilt.”
The right employer will feel lucky to have you regardless.
“Totally understand the worry / guilt that comes with job searching and being pregnant. I applied for this job in my 20th week of pregnancy - am now finishing up week 1 at new job and am 30 weeks pregnant. I chose to tell my prospective employer during the recruiting process (after panel but before final round) because I knew the anxiety of not telling them would be horrible feeling and I didn't want that stress. They were incredibly supportive, which furthered my desire to work there immensely. My team is supportive - they keep stressing that this is a role they are hiring long-term and it's an investment for them, not a one-year position they'd like filled. It's incredibly reassuring to hear, and I feel lucky to have this support. I know it can be hard to internalize but please remember any company would be lucky to have you, they should (and will!) look at hiring you as an investment they are willing to make, and if they don't feel this way it might not be the best place to work in general (work/life balance - time with family - etc). Good luck with the decision / search!!”
Age can be a factor.
“I don’t have something specific to say about the job search but as someone who had kids and needed fertility support in my 40s, I’d just chime in to say postponing trying to have a second when you are in your 40s can risk the chance to have that second child.
At the same time, you could start trying to get pregnant and it could take 6 months or a year or more and require some months of fertility help, and then you’d have almost two years or more at a job before you went on maternity leave if you got a job this winter or spring.
Esp. in one’s forties, It’s more likely it will take longer than not. Just a few random thoughts.”
Be aware of what parental leave would be offered to you and if options would vary depending how long you’ve worked there.
“I personally wasn’t in this situation but within the past two years have worked very closely with three people who were hired while pregnant. Two were only 3ish months and not showing during interviews and the 3rd was much further along, but interviewed on zoom during COVID. What the first 2 did not realize when hired was that our company only provided mat leave for employees w 12+ months of service. They were only allowed 6-8 weeks for disability plus any vacation they wanted to tack on. I work in a female dominated industry so I think there was more acceptance around it. I’m sure there were behind the backs mumblings from some but whenever it came up in conversation I always defended these women. We shouldn’t be held back because of pregnancy. I stopped interviewing when I found out I was pregnant w twins, took 6 months mat leave, and wanted to go back to the same job for some sense of normalcy and because it was easy. I feel I’ve been set back in my career bc of this decision, but it was my decision and I prioritized my personal life over professional.
You do you! Best of luck!”
“Another reason to go for it in the job search, and you’ll have to fact check this, but I believe you need to be in a job for a certain period of time before you can qualify for New York Paid Family Leave. All the more reason to pursue jobs now, and most likely with the way things go trying to get pregnant in your 40s, you’ll be well past that requirement by the time you’d be wanting to claim that.”
Consider discussing your pregnancy once an offer is given, but before it is signed.
“I was in this same situation just two weeks ago and the decision of when to disclose was agonizing. I was just at the halfway mark of my pregnancy when it became clear I was a finalist. I was lucky enough to crowd source advice from a cross section of hiring managers, peers, and legal professionals and am happy to pass it along.
The overwhelming advice I received was to wait to disclose until an offer was tendered but before it was signed. This would offer me protection from discrimination but also give the employer an opportunity to show their colors regarding maternity support. If they were not going to offer me job protection during leave then it was not going to be a tenable prospect for me. This is a real consideration because as others have noted unless you are employed a certain amount of months New York State does not require FMLA.
It is hard not to feel duplicitous but would a man who was getting back surgery in 6 months disclose that to a future employer during the interview process? That was an oft referenced analogy that helped give me perspective.
In the end I’m happy to report that the employer was very supportive — their policy only offered full benefits after 6 months of employment. When I raised the issue they amended the policy to accommodate. I really do think that for all the agonizing we do they know you are not a short term hire and 12 weeks is nothing in that context.”
And make sure to negotiate before you sign that offer.
“I was five months pregnant when I started a new job in February and I'm happy to share my experience. I was laid off in Sept 2020 and was unemployed around the time that I got pregnant. It did take me longer than I was expecting to start a new job, and I got pregnant more quickly than I was expecting. It was a good reminder that we can only plan/control so much.
I interviewed, while pregnant, at several companies in Nov'20 - Jan'21. All of the interviews were via phone or video calls, which allowed me to interview without needing to acknowledge the fact that I was pregnant (one benefit of the COVID pandemic). I'm not sure if companies are still doing remote interviews, but I was a big fan.
I got to the final stages of the interview process with two companies. After I received a verbal commitment that they were interested in extending an offer letter, I chose to tell the recruiters and the hiring managers about my pregnancy. I told the recruiter first, then asked to set up another conversation with the hiring manager before I made my final decision.
I know that legally I didn't need to tell them, but I wanted to for a few reasons. First, this allowed me to have a detailed conversation about what benefits the company provides for parents. NY PFL also only kicks in if you have worked for the company for 26 weeks before taking leave, and I since I was already 4 months pregnant during final interviews, I was cutting it close. Some companies only provide full-pay during leave if you have worked there for a specific period of time. If that was the case, I was planning to negotiate to get full paid-leave before signing the offer letter. Please remember that you can ALWAYS NEGOTIATE when accepting a job offer. The time between receiving a verbal commitment that they are interested in you and signing the actual offer letter is the perfect time to ask for what you really need/want. The HR team/recruiter is usually the one handing negotiations, and they likely aren't the person that you will be working with day-to-day, so there is very little risk in negotiating. Worst case, the company will say no, and you have the choice to accept the offer as-is. Best case, you can get more pay, extra time off, a signing bonus, or something else just by asking. Companies often show their true character during negotiations. Secondly, I wanted to gauge their reaction to me being pregnant. It was important to me to join a company with a culture where I would be fully supported during my pregnancy and returning to work with a newborn. Lastly, I wanted to have a transparent conversation with my future boss about what I would be expected to accomplish during the months before I started leave, how we would prepare for leave coverage, and what my return-to-office would look like. I felt that being open about my pregnancy was the only way to have those conversations. I was actually a little shocked at how well these conversations went. Everyone that I talked to seemed genuinely excited for me, I got the information that I needed to be excited about the job and I signed the offer letter and set a start date.
I started work fully-remote due to COVID office closures in Feb 2021. This also made it easier in some ways to join without needing to acknowledge that I was pregnant and have lots of 'water-cooler' conversations about my pregnancy, but it made it a little harder as I got closer to my leave. It was a little weird to keep track of who I had told and I had a lot of 'hello, nice to meet you, I'm about to be go on leave' conversations but everyone took it in stride. Since I had already told my boss, we were able to create an onboarding plan that let me take on the right amount of work to get ramped up, but not to take on too much that would need to be transitioned in a few months.
I took my full leave and I just returned to work. As an employee, I feel valued that I was able to take that time, and I'm excited to get back to work.
I encourage you to go for it.”
On the other hand, depending how far along you are, you might discuss your pregnancy earlier on in the interview process.
“It is hard to start a new job in this context but I would encourage you to go for it if you want it. My current job was posted when I was very pregnant - the interview process was when I was 7 months. I wasn’t looking to switch jobs and I was extremely torn about whether to even apply given the need to deal with all these concerns. I identify with all the emotions and thoughts you mention that are caused by the uniquely American inequities on parental leave. There were so many unknowns about how I could possibly make a new job work and what could be accommodated and what the reaction would be that I really had to psych myself up to apply and even remember asking myself “what would Hillary do??” (this was not too long after the election). I went for it and got the job. There may not feel like many benefits to job searching while pregnant (or trying) but it does acutely put front of mind the importance of assessing what type of culture the employer has - of course you cannot legally be discriminated against, but the reaction even within the lawful spectrum is very telling. I brought up my pregnancy during the interview process because it was very obvious and I wanted to disclose the fact that I was not willing to start right away, but I didn’t ask for anything in particular. When I got the offer my job was unequivocally and enthusiastically willing to hold the position open for me for about five months so that I could start after giving birth and spending 14 weeks with my child. I was lucky that it wasn’t even a question, all my worrying was for naught. (And the recruiting firm even sent me a baby present later, much to my surprise.) They were not able to offer paid leave since I wasn’t even an employee yet, but I was able to stay on at my prior employer - they sadly offered no paid leave whatsoever but I was able to use all my earned sick leave and vacation to create a mostly paid leave, so it all worked out fine.
You can always wait until you have the offer and then ask about policies around leave and get into your specific circumstances then. I think it’s an entirely appropriate line of inquiry regardless of whether you are pregnant, actively trying to become pregnant, or even if it’s just something you might care about someday. And the reaction should speak volumes. I would also encourage dads or partners who are not pregnant to ask these same questions.”
Go for it, do what is best for you and your family at every step, and toss the guilt out the window.
“All can offer is a bit about my experience in case any of it sheds some helpful light for you….some overlap with what it sounds like you’re juggling right now.
I lost my job due to pandemic back in June 2020, and this was after my husband and I were already underway with initial steps toward doing IVF. By the time I got a new job in October 2020, we were well underway with IVF process (we were just about to start injections) so you can imagine how I was feeling about the timing of everything. But I kept reminding myself of this one truth: the only goal - of all my goals in life - that is truly time sensitive is having a child. And at 40, I had to just say to myself “F— it, this is worth it, no time to wait” and if it made a mess later, we’d cross that bridge someway somehow.
Fast forward a year, and I’m just barely over a year at the new job and about to go on maternity leave in December. I have read the other responses and agree with all of them, especially the one who mentions that it is really hard for companies to find good employees, and from their perspective, it may just not be a big deal. That’s leverage for you! I think this moment in time is quite opportune for many job seekers and for those in your type of situation, both in terms of the current labor market and how much more agency employees now have, and also in terms of how much paid family leave is in the headlines right now. Even though that second one is still a total mess, I have to believe that the fact that it’s such a current hot topic helps at least bring the issue a little closer to the forefront of employers’ minds. All this to say, go for it, do what is best for you and your family at every step, and toss the guilt out the window.
In my case, I put my big girl pants on, got on my little moral podium and asked for additional time off once my paid leave runs out. Maybe I felt emboldened by the current job market. Either way, I advocated for more time because I believe that 1) mothers and babies need the option of more time together, and 2) one big way to get employers to improve their policies is to look at the patterns of what their employees are asking for, especially in this moment when they are truly concerned about ‘the great resignation’ - that’s the hope, anyway. I’m in a profession (like many) where a lot of women drop out of it around child bearing time, and with my company touting that they have family-friendly policies, asking for more time felt like my own way of making them walk the walk.”