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When, if ever, should the topic of a pregnant partner be brought up during the interviewing and hiring process?

To keep this question general enough to be of use for others, please only consider the following:

  • The pregnancy is more than halfway along and there are no signs of complications (normal childbirth/delivery seems likely).
  • Expected to take 1-2 weeks off for the labor and subsequent time at the hospital/home.
  • No paid leave requested since this is in the first few months of employment.
  • The job is in the US.

Mentioning it too soon in the hiring process can rule you out quickly (illegal or not), but waiting until the first day seems kind of like a "Oh, by the way, I'm dropping this on you out of nowhere." Is there a standard stage of interviewing/negotiating that this should be brought up?

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    Please note: I understand different situations apply and there is no such thing as a "perfectly normal pregnancy", but please answer based on reasonable assumptions like the bulleted ones in the post. – user1717828 Feb 1 '17 at 15:00
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    @RaduMurzea it's true. There have been many (true) stories on TV about women who went to the doctor or ER complaining of abdominal pain only to learn that they're in labor. – alroc Feb 1 '17 at 15:11
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    @RaduMurzea No. There are cases, they're rare, but it does happen. Biology is a weird thing. – Jonast92 Feb 1 '17 at 15:31
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    1-2 weeks off for a pregnancy... damn. I feel for you guys :( – Erik Feb 1 '17 at 15:31
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    @RaduMurzea, I have a friend who did not find out she was pregnant until 2 months before delivery. She had been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for several years and had finally given up on the In vitro fertilization process. Since she "knew" she had medical reasons why she couldn't get pregnant, it never crossed her mind that she was. – HLGEM Feb 1 '17 at 15:44
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I don't believe you need to disclose it at all if you're at the halfway point (but stay tuned for a comment about the timeline below). Don't give a potential employer a chance at a "yeah, but..." in considering your candidacy.

If your partner is halfway, that's 4.5 months. Let's assume you're interviewing today - it's reasonable to estimate 4 -6 weeks before you'd be starting the job (finish interviews, received and consider offer, background checks, 2 weeks notice at the old employer, etc.). That still leaves you employed at the new company for 3-3.5 months before having to take this time off. Unless you're working for unreasonable people, I think that's perfectly adequate to inform them after you have the job secured.

Obviously, as you approach the due date this changes, up to the point where one might say "why are you even interviewing if your new job will start a week before you're having a kid" you'll have to adjust this, up to the point of saying "I wouldn't be able to start until after the baby arrives." Up to the point where your start date would be one month or less away from the due date, I would suggest that you don't need to disclose at all.

If you carry the health insurance for your family, a change of jobs can become tricky with the change of insurance provider. Lots of paperwork and chances for things to get missed.

With everything else that can go on around having a child, I would recommend putting interviews on hiatus starting about a month before the due date to prevent confusion and scheduling conflicts around the birth.

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    I was holding off until more details came in, but I was going to suggest that it should probably be brought up no earlier than the negotiation process after receiving an offer. The company will have indicated they want them, and if they retract the offer after learning they'll need maternity/paternity leave in ~5 months, there's likely grounds for legal action. Mentioning it in the negotiation process after receiving an offer can give both sides the chance to discuss what needs to or can happen when the baby comes and avoid any surprises, especially for the employer. – MattD Feb 1 '17 at 15:20
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    From the linked FMLA Wikipedia article: "In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months" – Lyrl Feb 1 '17 at 19:17
  • If you are applying for a large business/company/gov in the US, then this should not be an issue at all. Simply state, after you get an offer and start date, that you will need 2 weeks off around ___ time, and need it pre-approved. Some places will be generous and give you a "bonus" 2 weeks off, some will be less and let you take unpaid leave. No large organization will do anything that could possibly be interpreted as discrimination for this. – MikeP Feb 2 '17 at 16:05
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I'm pretty sure you don't have to tell them about your partner's health status unless it will require absence on your behalf outside of the scope of already regulated circumstances, e.g. pregnancy.

There are usually laws to protect you from being fired once you've notified your current employer about a pregnancy, but this company is not yet your employer. Some laws might enforce you to tell them about your current health status, but that's about how far it should go. If in doubt, and note that I'm not a lawyer, contact your union or consult with a lawyer.

Employees often fill out forms to notify their employer that they're expecting. If you don't do this and they find out before you do tell them they can fire you without you doing anything about it, it's unlikely but a possibility. Likewise telling them about the pregnancy right now, instead of waiting and turning in the form like everyone else, is probably a suicide for your application-process.

It could be ethically wrong on your behalf to accept a job knowing that you'll be away for quite some time if you know that they'll be unable to function during the time you think you won't be available. That's something you have to decide but if you think they can function without you during that period I'd carry on with the application, knowing that in the long term they'll benefit from your skills. Don't disclose personal information that can affect your job as long as its legal and in your opinion not morally wrong.

You're probably not breaking any laws by doing this, depending on where you live, and if they hire you and get pissed because of you not bring it up sooner just be happy to find out what kind of an employer you just got and find a new job. Just make sure you hand in an official notification before mentioning the pregnancy in the workplace to avoid getting fired if they don't like what you just did.

I'm making the assumption here that the country/state you're living in provides some sort of rights that's involved in the process around the birth. If you cannot handle a "no" on taking time off during the time of birth and there are no laws that obligate your employer to give you the leave then you'll probably have to bring it up during the interview, so that it's agreed that you'll be allowed to take the time off.

  • "It could be ethically wrong on your behalf to accept a job knowing that you'll be away for quite some time " - maybe true, however, in this case, the OP stated 1-2 weeks off. That's a cruise. – MikeP Feb 2 '17 at 16:03
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The moral question: Does the partner of a pregnant woman deserve a job, yes or no? I'd say "yes". An employer might say "no", but that's their problem, not yours and not mine.

I recommend you don't tell anyone that your partner is pregnant so you get the job. And then I'd recommend that you show yourself from your best side at work as long as possible so when you need to ask for favours your boss is more likely to agree.

You should also try to get a feel for what the company and their management is like during your interview; if you think that needing two weeks time off because you are becoming a father is unacceptable to them, then maybe find a different employer. A good (intelligent) employer will say at the time of the birth "maybe we could force him to come to work, but he won't be any good anyway at the time, better if he stays away for two weeks".

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