Having a child is a wonderful experience but does cause additional stress if you’re job hunting at the same time. Besides being preoccupied with decisions like whether to use cloth or disposable diapers and extra fatigue, you also must carefully navigate the delicate discussion of your pregnancy with a potential employer.

Here are the legal requirements you face as a job candidate and the pros and cons of whether or not to disclose your “condition.”

The prospect of a new baby brings happiness but also stress if job hunting!

American Law

In the United States, as in most civilized countries of the world, the Family Medical and Leave Act of 1993 guarantees time off from work to attend to a newborn or complete an adoption of any aged child. This is unpaid leave of 12 weeks, but at the end of the period, a mother at least knows she has a job and cannot be fired. There are federal limitations, however, to keep in mind. The employee must have been at work for at least a year and completed a minimum of 1250 hours.

Individual states have passed legislation that provides more comprehensive coverage including less stringent requirements for employee qualification for benefits. However, each state’s laws vary, and you need to check with your geographic location to be sure of your rights.

Nowhere, though, does the law require that a potential employee disclose a pregnancy in the interview process. Of course, if you live in one of the few states that has not expanded the federal regulations for employers, you may find yourself without a job if you have not worked the required 1250 hours before you start maternity leave.

Pros to Non-disclosure

If you’re very early in your pregnancy, it may be feasible that you don’t “show” yet and an employer would not suspect you are pregnant. Anti-discrimination laws forbid an employer asking if you are pregnant or if you plan to have children so they would have to have other clues. Hint: Keep the baby booty knitting out of the waiting area!

A full-term 40-week pregnancy would mean 1600 work week hours if you work a typical 40 hours of full-time employment. So you’d have roughly 350 hours over the required 1250 of federal law minimum hours worked. That’s almost nine weeks. So if you’re a month or even two pregnant and plan to work to the very end, you could be guaranteed you don’t lose your job when taking maternity leave in some states that don’t require a full year’s employment.

That said, not all pregnancies go smoothly, and if you are an hourly employee who has to take a lot of sick time that may not yet be accrued, it is a risk. Although first pregnancies are usually late, again, Mother Nature cannot be trusted to fit statistics. If you are early in a pregnancy and choose not to disclose it, you really need to weight the risks. Are you naturally a healthy woman? What is your family history? Do you have support at home from family and friends? These questions may help determine your path.

Starting Off on Right Foot

For any employer, of course, honesty and integrity are key attributes of new recruits. While there are no legal requirements for you to disclose a pregnancy on a job interview, you do still hopefully have to work with the team, managers, and the business owner into the future.

Honesty and integrity can mitigate pregnancy considerations for many employers.

If you are well qualified for a position, the chances are you can present options to the potential employer to alleviate burden on the other staff and to ensure customer satisfaction remains high.

By talking at length with the HR department or hiring manager about your ideas for work flow, job sharing, or telecommuting, you’ll immediately demonstrate your commitment to the company, which is a valuable trait every firm needs in their employees.

Whether or not you choose to talk about your pregnancy while in the hiring process is a personal decision, but in either case, be sure to check an employee’s rights in state and local jurisdictions.

Featured images:

License: Royalty Free or iStock

source: imagerymajestic via freedigitalphotos.net

License: Royalty Free or iStock source: David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net

Valerie J. Wilson owns Wilson Writing and Consulting and enjoys freelance writing for many companies and organizations–and she thinks that using a combination of cloth and disposable diapers is the best way to go.