Legalities aside. I've always wondered why a business would employ someone who is pregnant just to give them maternity leave for three months when they wouldn't even have completed their probation.

What is the logic behind it?

If I have 5 roughly equal candidates and I know one will need to be covered (and paid) for 3 months shortly after arrival, I still have 4 other candidates. The difference with existing staff is I have a proven, trained and valuable employee by then.

If I'm advertising a position for a cook, cleaner, data entry, clerk, or almost ANY position in the 99% of the job range niche, I'll have plenty of people to choose from, I have more difficulty filtering them out than finding them. Logically to me (in the absence of convincing answers) pregnancy would be a filter. I want the food cooked every day, the office cleaned, the data entered, the filing done etc,. not a moon trajectory calculated.

So if I knew a lady is pregnant I'd cross her off the list. I cannot think of a single reason not to. If she started work and I found out that she hadn't disclosed she was pregnant beforehand she would be lucky to make it through her probation period. I'd get rid of her then if not sooner.

Different story if it's an existing staff member who gets pregnant of course. One of my ladies has had 4 kids and another on the way, I have no issue with paying maternity leave and my contribution when the office passes the hat will at least double everyone elses combined.

Importantly because I know when she is due, I have already organised for her tasks to be covered when the time comes. If I didn't know then not only would I be paying a new hire but I'd also have to pay someone else to cover. Two people receiving pay for one job with no guarantee that the first will be any good at the job or even that the proven mercenary person will even return after 3 months. Makes more sense to give the job full time to the second person from the outset unless I'm missing something.

SUMMARY:- All else being equal what logical reason would a business have to hire a pregnant lady instead of discriminate against her being hired based on her pregnancy. If she hid her pregnancy to land the job, what logical reason would they have for not seeing that as a sign of self-serving dishonesty.

  • 8
    "Legalities aside". That is a rather big thing to ignore. Depending on the jurisdiction, even the impression that you are discriminating based on pregnancy/gender may get you into hot water. And you just publicly admitted that you are considering such discrimination, so this impression now exists until you can explicitly refute it. – MSalters Sep 14 at 10:56
  • 2
    @MSalters I'm not worried about repercussions, this is a hypothetical question. It's an old photo anyway, I don't look like that any more. – Kilisi Sep 14 at 10:59

All else being equal what logical reason would a business have to hire a pregnant lady instead of discriminate against her being hired based on her pregnancy.

You don't know for sure in any new hire's case how they will turn out over a course of time. You go with your gut a bit when hiring -- logic doesn't always play as significant a role in some cases.

As a hiring manager you check references, and interview the candidate as best you can. If I were hiring, I would have to be convinced that this person was going to be an excellent hire before I paid for many weeks of salary before getting a significant return.

This is the case for someone who is pregnant (assuming I know or they feel like revealing) or even someone who already has a long vacation they paid for and cannot reschedule. Having said that, I have seen it happen multiple times.

If she hid her pregnancy to land the job, what logical reason would they have for not seeing that as a sign of self-serving dishonesty

Based on what I know of US labor laws, the applicant does not have to reveal this and cannot be asked if they are pregnant. This pretty much applies to most medical conditions. Is it right or wrong, who am I to say, but from a legal angle the woman does not have to reveal. This part will vary a bit based on locale I would suspect.

Case in point: If as a hiring manager, I have an opening to do to work that needs to be done in the next few months, the new hires availability over those said months to do the job is a legitimate factor in the hiring decision.

At no point am I saying discriminate, but you are allowed as an employer to hire someone who meets the job requirements (be available to work when necessary).

You would hire a pregnant woman if she is the best candidate for the job. ETA: For a position requiring consistent attendance, ask "The job requires good attendance over x period, can you meet these requirements?" Not "Will you be able to come to work if you're pregnant?" If the answer is no, then they aren't the best candidate and you move on. Better on both ends - you avoid a lawsuit, and good candidates might reapply to other positions later on when their situation changes.

You would want to avoid discriminating against pregnant women during the hiring process because it is illegal (US: Pregnancy Discrimination Act - "employers may not discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition").

Women often do not disclose pregnancy during the hiring process to avoid discrimination, and because it often has no bearing on their ability to perform the job long term. It's not about being dishonest. It's about playing it safe when some hiring managers share your views.

More info on Pregnancy Discrimination Act: https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/pregnancy-discrimination-act/

  • 9
    If you have an opening to do work and the requirements that need to be done are over the next few months, the new hires availability over those said months to do the job is a legitimate factor in the hiring decision. – Mister Positive Sep 13 at 17:29
  • This. Not exactly the same, but we recently hired a temp definitively because she works much better than anyone else on her domain. She's a recent newlywed, and odds of her getting pregnant are high - especially as she now has a permanent job. Still worth the risk. – gazzz0x2z Sep 14 at 10:37
  • I'm no lawyer but I doubt you can indirectly discriminate like that. – SLC Sep 14 at 11:36

Legalities aside? Yeah, it's a bad idea. You would be better to hire someone else.

Which is why we have laws. It's a classic example of how individuals optimising for their best interest don't maximise things for the collective. Most developed have correctly concluded that while your business is benefiting from the incredible advantages that society and the state are granting you, you should suck up a little bit for the benefit of the collective.

Society is better off when women don't suffer from having children. Partly because this way we don't squander the abilities half of the best and most capable people in society and partly because it's unfair to put all the cost of two people having a child on one of those people.

Taking the pregnant woman is your business being the co-operator and not the cheater/parasite in the relationship. Laws exist to force you to do it, and punish your competitors if they break the deal and don't behave as well as you have.

  • 1
    This is specious reasoning. Society is also better off when children have the full devoted attention of at least one parent—and biologically, female bodies are designed to provide nutrients to babies in a way that male bodies are not. It is equally non-sequitur to say "therefore this difference should be ignored by employers" (what you are saying) as it would be to say "therefore women should not be allowed in the workplace." It does not follow. And you reference "the incredible advantages that society and the state are granting you" while not naming a single one. – Wildcard Sep 13 at 22:49
  • Society and the state do grant "incredible" advantages to people who are amoral enough to claim "entitlement" for whatever whims and fancies they feel entitled to. (My personal philosophy; no human has any "entitlement" to anything at all - "rights" are things you have to earn, not things you are entitled to be given.) – alephzero Sep 13 at 23:19
  • 1
    Before you go too far, let me remind you that hiring discrimination is perfectly legal as long as the job description is valid. If the job requires no long term absences, that's a valid and legal reason to not hire someone, including the disabled, the sick, the pregnant, etc. – Clay07g Sep 13 at 23:23
  • Can you give an example of a job that requires no long term absences? Because I can't, pretty much any job has immediate pressing needs that cannot be deferred. – SLC Sep 14 at 11:38
  • @slc One example would be a person who wants to do research in a part of the world that is difficult to access and only accessible for limited periods during the year, so the person needs to be at low risk of needing medical assistance while they are there, e.g. Antarctica. Astronauts also come to mind. Commercial fishers are probably going to discriminate against crewmen who have a disease that could come up while at sea, since they may need to halt their trip to get them back to shore (or somewhere a medivac can reach them). – IllusiveBrian Sep 14 at 18:19

All else being equal what logical reason would a business have to hire a pregnant lady instead of discriminate against her being hired based on her pregnancy.

I think this really gets back to what the purpose of a business is. It is definitely not to make money at all costs. It is to advance the interests of its stakeholders (owner, stockholders, whatever). Those interests are not just in making as much money as possible but also in making the world better for themselves and everyone else. This is a logical interest for people to have.

You can certainly imagine situations where one might obtain a personal benefit from discriminating. And sometimes it might not be obvious why that's still a terrible thing to do. Perhaps a hypothetical situation might help: You're the owner of a hardware store. Many of your customers are racist. If you hire a black worker, some of your racist customers might shop at your store less frequently. So why not implement a whites only employee policy if you can get away with it?

I would hope that you can see why this does not really advance the interests of the human beings who own the business. I would hope they don't want to live in a world where racists are catered to. It's logically worth the cost of losing some business from some racists to make the world a fairer place in a tangible way.

If she hid her pregnancy to land the job, what logical reason would they have for not seeing that as a sign of self-serving dishonesty.

The law specifically says that she is not required to disclose that. It is not dishonest to refrain from disclosing something that there is clearly, under the law, no obligation to disclose and an affirmative right to refrain from disclosing.

I'm kind of stunned by the implied hypocrisy of this question. You're asking why not to illegally discriminate against someone to save some money and you're also asking why you can't consider it dishonest for someone else to withhold information to gain a job where that is specifically legal for them to do! I can't see how you can even ask both questions.

How can it be problematic dishonesty not to disclose pregnancy (which the law specifically allows, so there's no obligation to) but perfectly logical to discriminate against a pregnant woman (which the law specifically prohibits)?!

  • 6
    The OP seems to suggest that the job requires high availability. In general, it is perfectly legal to discriminate in the hiring if the job qualifications are valid. For example, you are allowed to discriminate against white people if you need a black movie actor. You are allowed to discriminate against women if you need to hire a strippers for a male strip club. You are allowed to discriminate against anyone if you need high availability, including pregnant women, sick people, etc. It's only illegal if you would hire another person who would take similarly leave as a pregnant woman. – Clay07g Sep 13 at 19:49
  • 10
    @Clay07g You must be reading a different question than the one I read! He's never mentioned any specific availability requirement or anything like that, just the general point that when you hire someone for any position, you want them working on every work day. It is absurd to characterize that as some special availability requirement when he specifically said 99% of jobs. "If I'm advertising a position for a cook, cleaner, data entry, clerk, or almost ANY position in the 99% of the job range niche ... I want the food cooked every day..." – David Schwartz Sep 13 at 19:53
  • 1
    I'll admit that I'm assuming he is discriminating based on availability (because it looks that way). However, you are making an assumption as well, that he is proposing to discriminate illegally, even though he never said that was the case. So I also have to say, you must be reading another question than I. – Clay07g Sep 13 at 23:11
  • 1
    PS: A very, very large number of jobs don't require work every day (I have one). All of OPs examples are of essential positions, which do require special available or a large number of replacement employees (except maybe data entry). And small companies can't always hire 5 people to fill 1 position like McDonalds can. – Clay07g Sep 13 at 23:19
  • this answer seems incredibly naive at best, you cannot project your idea of what a business is for onto everyone else as if it's fact and then build an answer around it – Kilisi Sep 14 at 10:06

In the United States, paid maternity leave is not required under the law. Unpaid maternity leave is required but only if the employee has worked for you for at least twelve months and has worked 1,250 hours or more over the past 12 months (i.e. needs to be more than half time). So the idea that a brand new employee gets mandatory paid maternity leave within her probation period is fiction.

That being said, a business still has the option to offer paid maternity leave at any time. And some business do so, because the option to take leave is part of their overall benefits package. The reasons for offering it are the same for offering any form of compensation: to attract and retain the best possible employees.

  • Just because someone doesn't have a high titled or high paying job does not mean that they are unskilled or unworthy of the same regard as you. Many blue collar jobs are best done by highly skilled and experienced people, anyone can do them perhaps, but nowhere near as efficiently or as well. – Kilisi Sep 14 at 10:56

Legalities aside, I think the essence of your question has nothing to do with pregnancy. As a business you can state upfront that employees are eligible for paid leave after working for a certain period of time. Someone trying to take paid leave that they're not eligible for would certainly be grounds for termination.

But that has nothing to do with someone being pregnant or not; a pregnant applicant could fully intend on continuing to work full time after giving birth. That's her decision. So the logical reason to hire her (or anyone with any medical condition) is that you've come to an agreement upfront about what the job requires and what they're eligible for. So why discriminate?

  • Very good for pointing out the paid leave aspect. There is only one case where it would still definitely make sense to eliminate such a candidate, which is if it's for a short-term position, or a position that requires continuity specifically over the coming months. – Wildcard Sep 14 at 0:22
  • because 2 weeks leave is different from 3 months, and a lady can decide after her 3 months on pay that she should stay home and nurture... no guarantee of anything except paying a bunch of money – Kilisi Sep 14 at 0:22
  • @Wildcard continuity is important for a new hire, it's when they get trained and it's how you gauge if they're a good fit with the rest of the team. – Kilisi Sep 14 at 0:24
  • 1
    @Kilisi Is it a law that new mothers get paid leave there despite the amount of time they have been in the company? In Japan, they need to have been in the company for at least half a year before they are paid on their leave (they still get time off) -- and even then, it is a really small sum of money until they have been there for years. – さりげない告白 Sep 14 at 1:41
  • That seems a much better way of doing it. Kudo's to Japan – Kilisi Sep 14 at 3:04
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Legalities aside there are very few reasons not to discriminate negatively if you have other candidates that are otherwise equivalent. The following are examples.

There is an incentive to hire like a subsidy of some sort as some countries have for disabled people.

There is an employment quota to be met of a certain group which this lady is part of but not other candidates.

It's your baby.

  • 6
    Yeah, the quota to be met applies. I've heard of several companies (even some NGOs) that have a minimum % of employees that have to be of certain ethnic group or "minority" – DarkCygnus Sep 13 at 17:39
  • Lol that inverse Law is interesting... Haven't heard a like that in the contexts I know – DarkCygnus Sep 14 at 1:44
  • I was turned down for a job I desperately needed in favour of hiring a less qualified BAME. It's definitely real. (I found out as I knew one of the interviewers personally and they told me off the record that was the reason. The interviewer was not the decision maker or the boss). – SLC Sep 14 at 11:40
  • @SLC thats hard luck, but it's reality. – Kilisi Sep 14 at 11:46
  • @Kilisi, I was exaggerating. Most women don't do this, but definitely, some do. I know of two examples. The medical bills for delivering a baby in the US are so expensive and the work benefits in the US are so bad. Some women choose to do this, so they can keep their paid sick/maternity days when they really need them (assuming they have any, sometimes they don't, and must take unpaid leave). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maternity_leave_in_the_United_States – Stephan Branczyk Sep 15 at 1:30

The same reason that you don't close your business down and reopen in the same place with the same name to escape warranty claims. Lots of companies do that and it is perfectly legal. But it is benefiting from doing something morally wrong. Most people don't wish to act that way.

  • 3
    The question is, "What is the logic behind it?" and your answer is, "It's morally wrong." That's not logic and it's not reasoning. – Wildcard Sep 13 at 21:32
  • 1
    That is a valid business model down here, unfortunately... – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 13 at 22:06
  • 1
    @WildCard Logic and reasoning are concerned with morality, Logic and reasoning describe the correct way of thinking, not a system which ignores what cannot be quantified. It would be illogical (for most) to act unethically for a petty gain of a few months wages, especially if you simultaneously act ethically when the stakes are much higher. Your comment is also illogical as you are arguing that we ignore part of reality when thinking about this question. – PStag Sep 14 at 11:43
  • That's a lot of text and I still can't tell how your statements relate to this question in your view. So, who acts unethically in your view—the pregnant woman taking advantage of paid maternity leave when she hasn't worked for any great length of time, or the business who refuses to hire a pregnant woman because they don't want to pay her for three months of no work? – Wildcard Sep 18 at 2:30
  • @Wildcard If you think that is a lot of text you are not ready to learn about books. – PStag Sep 18 at 6:00

Your Answer

 
discard

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.