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I'm currently looking for a new job and my partner is pregnant.

By considering my notice period (3 months), if I by any chance get hired in March I then should start the new job in July, which is exactly the month in which the baby will be born.

I live in Germany, so both partners can take time off from work (at a reduced salary) when a child is born (the so-called "Elternzeit").

I'm at a loss as to what to say, to the recruiters and/or to the companies, and in which step of the application process it might be appropriate to say something, if anything at all.

I am aware that I am not required to disclose anything personal during the hiring process, but I would find it very awkward to be hired without saying anything, and then in July say "oh by the way, I'm actually not starting to work now, see you in X months after my Elternzeit". I think that could even maybe potentially jeopardize the trial period (which is customary in Germany, usually lasts 6 months, and allows both the employee and employer to unilaterally end the work relationship with no advance notice). Of course, the company would not be able to officially end the trial period because of that (these kind of matters are protected by law), but they could very well find another boilerplate reason to do so.

On the other hand, I am also afraid that disclosing this prior to being hired might make me look less attractive to prospective employers (as they would be aware that I would potentially not be available as soon as my notice period actually ends, and then when I do start working I might be unfocused due to the situation at home).

So I kind of feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place... I don't want to postpone my job search (the time has definitely come for a step forward in my career), but on the other hand, I don't want to lie to prospective employers, but also not look "less desirable" at the same time.

Any tips on how to navigate all of this?

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  • 4
    If you take parental leave, do you need to let employer know ahead of time, in normal circumstances? Seems weird that you could just take it next-day basis with no prior information at all, but not the weirdest.
    – Aida Paul
    Feb 28 at 12:22
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    @AidaPaul yes, 7 weeks Feb 28 at 12:29
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    @KarstenKoop thanks, that's an important twist to it. I think this needs someone who knows the germany employment law well, as this gets complicated fast, even with pregnancy and job hunting there is a point when you have to disclose it if you want to have paid maternity leave. And this is material that new hire will go away for few months just as they get hired...
    – Aida Paul
    Feb 28 at 12:34
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    There are several factors that might influence the answers: 1) How long are you planning to go on Elternzeit? Afaik, Germany allows for anything between 1 month and 3 years. If you start a new Job and then tell them that you won't be here for the first three years, that won't be taken well. 2) What type of job are you taking? Is this some job that requires a formalized training course? For example, the courses for train drivers starts twice a year where I live. If you miss the first 1-2 month of the course you won't be able to become a train driver until the next course starts.
    – BDL
    Feb 28 at 18:10
  • How does your 7 weeks of paternal leave impact the 3 month required notice period?
    – spuck
    Feb 29 at 0:03

8 Answers 8

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I would recommend to time your new job start after the end of your planned Elternzeit. For the time that you are not working anyway it shouldn't make too much difference whether you don't work for your old employer or you don't work for a new employer (note that the money you receive during Elternzeit depends on your previous salary, averaged over the last 12 months according to comments).

You can still do the job hunting now or at least before the baby is born and tell your prospective employers that your proposed start date is after what your planned Elternzeit is. If they ask if you can start earlier you can tell them that you are taking Elternzeit.

Once you have a new job lined up you can tell your current employer that you want to quit at the end of your Elternzeit. They might not be too happy about that but that is the old employer you are planning to leave anyway.

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    It's the last 12 months, or the last taxing period if you are self employed Feb 29 at 8:29
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    In fact, people changing jobs right after Elternzeit is almost an employment trope, it happens all the time that people never come back. For better or for worse, being off with a child for a few months is a great opportunity to reflect how much you really liked your job and whether you would want to do something else.
    – xLeitix
    Feb 29 at 12:26
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    @xLeitix The point is that you don't start your new job with Elternzeit but right after your Elternzeit ends. You do the job hunting and the contract signing before or during Elternzeit but the actual start date is after you are done with Elternzeit.
    – quarague
    Feb 29 at 13:38
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    What about any potential notice period? Can you usually negotiate that or does the Elternzeit count? I don't know about Germany at all but I know of at least one other country where the notice period only includes days during which you work and can be extended if you're taking time off.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 29 at 19:41
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    @Relaxed The relevant German law is gesetze-im-internet.de/bgb/__622.html §622 BGB, it just says 4 weeks, no conditions attached. Your contract can specify a longer time period as long as the employers time period is as least as long as the employee time period.
    – quarague
    Feb 29 at 20:39
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You are right, for many employers, you would be at a disadvantage mentioning this, since they are looking for a person to do a job at a certain point in time and you will be unavailable at that point.

Not mentioning it however will definitly be seen as an underhanded move and breach of basic trust. This may count against you in your probationary period and while they may not list that as an official reason, they don't need a reason during this period. "uh, we don't feel it" or "was not a good fit" is as good as any other nondescript phrase. They will just wait until 2 weeks to the end of your probationary period and then say "we don't want to continue this". Legally, they would be fine (even probationary period has a notice period of 2 weeks, but needs no reason).

So I think your best bet here is to mention it and find an employer who is fine with it. That's probably a lot less opportunity than otherwise, but at least it is build on trust and build to last.

You said you want to make a move for your career. Are you sure that the additional stress level of being new parent is really the best foundation for such a move? Don't you want to present yourself from your best side for something like that?

New parents are stressed out, sometimes late, always tired, and rightly so. I am more than willing to overlook that and help with colleagues that I have known for a while, where we have helped each other out in the past and I know that under normal circumstances, they would be on top of their game.

With new people, how do I know whether you are sub-par because of the new baby or if you are simply sub-par, period? I don't. I can't.

From my point of view, if you want to be successful, get your private life back on track first (and a baby will derail it in ways you cannot even imagine now) and then, with a proper foundation and medium stress level (I don't think you will ever get to "low" again in the next 18 years) go for the career move you want.

If you have to make the move now, either because you will lose your current job or you thrive on chaos and stress and are looking forward to an early heart attack, then at least mention it, even if it limits your opportunities.

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    NB: Whether the OP can imagine how a baby will derail their private life would depend very much on whether this is their first.
    – gerrit
    Feb 29 at 7:40
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Everything you do has potential pitfalls.

As a father of six, I do NOTHING that will potentially create stress for my wife or myself, or make major changes during the critical time between birth and the first 6 months unless absolutely-house-is-on-fire necessary. As a parent you're no longer working for yourself, your dependents needs supercede yours.

Unhappy at work? Hard luck, soldier on until you have breathing space at home and can afford to take risks. Focus on family and 'unhappy at work' becomes just a vaguely annoying temporary situation that is financing your nappy fund.

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    exactly correct
    – Fattie
    Mar 2 at 16:50
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The short answer is, it depends. So I'll give you my thoughts here, but you'll have to use your own judgement to apply it to your specific situation.

I'll start with what I'd do. I would just tell them. If they decide to not hire me because of that so be it. It mostly tells me it's probably not the kind of company I'd want to work for. However, this is coming from a position of luxury where I have plenty of job options available to me. You may not be able to afford that attitude.

A lot depends on the type of job you are looking for. If you are likely to stay at your new job for many years, it really isn't that relevant if you go on leave pretty soon or somewhere next year. A sensible employer knows this. But if you are likely to be moving on to the next thing in 6 months time your parental leave is going to be 25% of your time at the company. Legal or not, that will affect decisions. Similarly, if it's a job where it takes a month or two just to become productive going on leave right after you started basically means you'll have to start all over after the leave making it extra painful for the employer. Try to put yourself in their shoes to get a feel for how they would respond.

And, depending on the employer, your honesty may offset some of the 'looking less desirable' part.

Also consider this:

(the time has definitely come for a step forward in my career)

You put it in brackets, but I think it's important to realise this means you have value to an employer that goes beyond what you are currently doing. That should also mean you have value even if you go on parental leave. Have some faith in your professional skills and ability ;)

And there may well be an easy way out:

if I by any chance get hired in March I then should start the new job in July, which is exactly the month in which the baby will be born.

That's not necessarily true. You can accept a job in March and specify you will start in September (or whatever really). Taking your parental leave at your current company would be an option you can consider. You have a fairly long notice period already, adding another month or two to it might not make a big difference.

But, if you really need to move on right now and can't afford to be picky about employers you do absolutely have the right not to tell them anything. You should use that right if you have to, without feeling bad about it. It exists for good reasons.

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    I like your " If they decide to not hire me because of that so be it. It mostly tells me it's probably not the kind of company I'd want to work for. ". I did something similar for my last job hunt Feb 29 at 8:28
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I'm gonna go against the stream a little here and say it's not necessarily a bad thing that you're turning into a family. Some employers might see it as a bad thing, but others will value that you're creating a stable life for yourself, making it quite more likely that you'll stick around for a while. Looking for new jobs is going to get that much harder when all the negatives the other answers have mentioned come into play. At least for me personally I didn't really get the impression that it was negative, they seemed excited both for me as a person, but also that if the working relationship works out I'd be likely to "settle down" with them as an employer for a considerable amount of time. Maybe some of the interviews that didn't get anywhere had someone being unhappy with the upcoming plans, but those are not places I would have wanted to work anyways. Like with most things it's going to depend on your employer, and how important it is that their values align with yours / how you want to structure your work/life balance.

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You don't want to postpone your job search, as the time has definitely come for a step forward in your career - but you are taking a major step forward in another very important area of life!

Major life changes (even if progress in a positive sense) are not always easy to handle, especially when there are multiple ones at once. You will inevitably not be able to equally focus on two completely new circumstances and one of them, if not both, will receive less attention than intended.

My advice would be to not rush it, staying in your previous job for a few more months will not be a big deal for your career, especially since it's not like you have concrete, unique opportunity lined up - apparently you are just starting to think about the process. If it comforts you, you would anyway not be working for a few weeks/months, so the job you have is just on paper either way. Enjoy the time with your newborn, appropriately welcome them into this world and time your change of jobs for after Elternzeit.

Also, employers will be understanding if you push the starting date a few months further because you're expecting a child. The expectation is not "starting date ASAP, or you won't get the job" anymore, employers nowadays in Germany are just happy to find somebody suitable for their open positions (speaking for IT area, which seems to be applicable in this case).

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I was in this exact situation a few years ago, although I was able to start my new job three months before the expected birth date and took time off (albeit unpaid) after the birth. This was agreed as part of my accepting the job.

My advice is to not mention your partner's pregnancy until you have a job offer. At that point, you're in a position to negotiate.

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  • But you have a lot less ability to negotiate on day one. Some employers will have policies or practices that prohibit these types of long term negotiations at the start of your employment. Remember they likely have a need for resources now if they take you on and you can't work then they will still need to find someone else to replace you before you even started. Not a good way to start a new relationship with your employer Mar 1 at 1:13
  • It needs to be a negotiation as part of accepting the job offer. If the employer refuses, you do the same, and stay with your current employer.
    – Richard Ev
    Mar 2 at 2:23
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A partial answer to one aspect:

Of course, the company would not be able to officially end the trial period because of that (these kind of matters are protected by law), but they could very well find another boilerplate reason to do so.

Not even that. During the trial period, the company typically doesn't even have to give a reason at all.

Additionally, it is also customary that you don't take holidays (PTO) during your trial period. In some contracts, that will be explicit.

So just from these points, your worry is very much justified. Maybe you should start from a different point - do you actually plan to take Elternzeit?

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    Downvoted because it is more of a comment (or if it isn't, it is implicit advice to prioritise work over family - if you really want to make a frame challenge, make it more explicit, but that doesn't seem to be what the OP wants). I also disagree with your second point. In my experience, it's fine to take whatever holiday you have already earned (usually 2.5d/month) and anything longer can be discussed upfront.
    – Anonyma
    Mar 1 at 11:54

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