Is it fair to prevent pregnant women from only working for a few months? Questions and answers for pregnant job seekers.

PregnantOver on the Digital Eve Israel mailing list, a reader asked:

I would like to know what is the protocol for a woman doing a job search who happens to be pregnant.

What legal obligation does she have report her pregnancy, assuming it is not obvious? Likewise, at what point during the interview process should she mention it, as it probably isn't very nice to spring it on the employer after she's been hired/signed a contract?

Has anyone been in this situation before? If a pregnant woman needs work, she can't be expected to wait until after her child is born, right?

Although these questions were about pregnant job search in Israel specifically, the answers are the same anywhere that you're reading this.

What does the law say

Israeli law in this case (Hebrew) is similar to that of the US or most other Western country in saying that:

  • Companies are not allowed to discriminate against pregnant job seekers
  • Pregnant job seekers are not required to disclose their pregnancy. In Israel, the law only requires you do so if that fact is relevant to the position in question e.g. as a security guard.
  • HOWEVER, pregnant employees are required to notify their employer once they've entered their 5th month of pregnancy (so the employer can prepare for maternity leave)

So in Israel you can get a long-term job without mentioning your 6-month pregnancy, but when you finally start the job, you will immediately need to tell your new employer what you've been hiding from them throughout the hiring process.

Is that really the way you'd want to start a new job?

When to job search pregnant

With that in mind, here's what I recommend:

8+ months' pregnant

Don't even look, unless it's for a job that will begin after the baby is born.

Instead, focus on growing your personal brand by building relationships and improving your skills so that you'll be better placed to find work quickly once you're ready to go back to work. And get some rest too! You're about to have a baby and you're going to need it.

5-8 months' pregnant

Only look for short-term work, preferably of a kind that could lead to longer-term work later (at the same company, one of their clients, or elsewhere in the industry). By aiming for short-term work that ends comfortably before the baby is due, the pregnancy is no longer an obstacle for the employer and you put yourself on par with anyone else competing for those jobs.

0-5 months' pregnant

Job search like everyone else. Don't volunteer any information, but don't make any conscious effort to hide your pregnancy or it will only come back to haunt you.

Now what should you do if they ask?

How to respond if asked about being pregnant

As an illegal question (in Israel, according to the Equal Opportunities at Work Law), you have every right to refuse to answer. Depending on how the hiring process has gone so far and in particular, how the question was asked, you may prefer to respond. In that case, here's what you need to do.

Treat the question like any other concern an employer asks about. Try to understand where the concern is coming from and what you can say that will make the concern go away or at least, be reduced as much as possible.

Hopefully you've even anticipated the possibility of being asked this question and will have a reply ready.

More specifically:

  1. Search LinkedIn for an ex-employee of the company and ask them to tell you about maternity leaves there or to refer you to someone who can.
  2. Ask friends, family and contacts for their stories of being able to manage the maternity leave transitions to their employers' satisfaction.
  3. If you've already been a pregnant employee who successfully returned to work in the past, tell the story of how you and your past employer dealt with the situation. If not, tell one of the success stories you heard in Step 2. In both cases, adapt the lessons to the information you learned about the company in Step 1.

Conclusion

The hiring process is a time to build trust, and it's important to distinguish between doing the right thing and doing the smart thing. By understanding employers' worries about hiring pregnant job seekers, you can best respond to their fears and emphasize why you're still a terrific candidate for the job who will be worth waiting for after your eventual maternity leave is over.

If you liked this article, you'll enjoy Should You Put Age or Marital Status on Your Israeli Resume?.

Have you experienced any job search problems related to pregnancy? Share your story in the comments.

Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter for more ideas on dealing with illegal job search issues.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.
  • I loved your post! However, I think that a woman who has to do something differently than anyone else in either being singled out or singling herself out. I would like to think she has the same rights to find employment as everyone else.
    .-= Patricia Erickson´s last blog ..Writing A Good Resume And What Not To Do =-.

  • […] Seekers for $49.95 $25. Check out all the specials here.Jacob Share has an interesting post called Pregnant Job Hunting: When You Should and When You Shouldn’t.  I’ve never looked for a job while pregnant so I really don’t know where to weigh in […]

  • […] Share has an interesting post called Pregnant Job Hunting: When You Should and When You Shouldn’t.  I’ve never looked for a job while pregnant so I really don’t know where to weigh in […]

  • I am expecting to get an offer today for a new Job. I am 5 months pregnant, and pretty sure they dont know yet. I am going to let my new boss know as soon as I get the offer. I am very nervous!

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