Working Moms Tips

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Should I tell a potential employer that I'm pregnant while I'm interviewing?

Pregnancy and the Job Offer

So you're pregnant and interviewing. The question is, should you tell your potential employer that you're expecting? It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against hiring you due to your pregnancy and it's best to delay any discussion of pregnancy unless there is an actual job offer on the table. However, consider this: once you are hired, your employers may be rather dismayed to find out at a later date that you are expecting and it may damage your position at your workplace. A good alternative would be to create a timeline and plan for when you expect to work through, when you expect to take maternity leave, and what your childcare issues will be. That way, you can comfortably explain to your prospective employers that you have goals in place, that you are serious about your job, and alleviate their hesitation in hiring you.

   
When should I let my boss know that I'm pregnant?

Telling your Boss

So you found out you're pregnant and you're wondering when you should tell your boss. There are no clear-cut answers to this. When you decide to share the news depends on you, the nature of your work, and how long you can comfortably do your job. As a general rule, you don't need to share the news until your pregnancy will physically affect your ability to get the your job done. However, keep in mind the needs of your workplace and give them ample time to accommodate your maternity leave.

   
I'm worried about keeping my job and health benefits when I go on maternity leave. Is there anything I should know?

The Family and Medical Leave Act

Worried about your job security when you leave the workforce for maternity leave? Make sure you check out the Family and Medical Leave Act. This law gives qualified employees the right to 12 weeks unpaid leave with job protection to care for the birth of a child. The best part, if you're eligible, is that you get to keep your health benefits just the way they were when you were at work.

   
Do any pregnancy work issues and policies apply to men?

Paternity Leave

Good news! Men shouldn't have to feel left out when it comes to taking time off for the birth of a child. The Family Medical and Leave Act applies to men as well as women. This law requires that employers allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their eligible employees to care for the birth of a child. Qualified employees get to keep their health benefits during this period just the same as prior to their leave of absence.

   
Will I be able to take a paid maternity leave?

Paid Maternity Leave

Company stances regarding a paid leave of absence will vary. But check with your employer. Many workplaces will offer a short-term disability insurance. This covers your leave if you're ever sick, disabled or giving birth. A policy may pay for 50 percent to 100 percent of your salary for a certain number of weeks. Some policies may cover as little as four weeks and some may cover up to 12 weeks.

   
Is there a law to protect pregnant women from discrimination?

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a law in place to protect pregnant women. This law protects pregnant women from being discriminated against based on their pregnancy, childbirth, or any medical issues related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Although there is a law in place, discrimination does still happen. Keep in mind that the burden of proof still rests with the person filing the complaint. If you feel you've been discriminated against, you'll need to keep careful records and documentation to prove it.

   
What organizations can I go to, to find out more about pregnancy work issues and policies?

Finding Resources for Information

Learning everything you can about pregnancy work issues and policies is important. Every woman should know what her rights and options are. There are many resources available. Start with your employer to find out what their policies are and then you can check with the following sources:

• U.S. Department of Labor

• National Partnership for Women and Families

• Families and Work Institute

• U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission

   
What questions are illegal for an employer to ask me during an interview?

Know your Interview Rights

Certain questions are illegal for an employer to ask during the interview process. It helps to know what the laws are so that you can deflect any questions that you don't feel comfortable answering.

• It's illegal for an employer to ask if you are pregnant.
• It's illegal for an employer to ask about medical conditions to find out if you have a disability.
• It's illegal for an employer to ask about your future plans for pregnancy during an interview or after employment.

   
I feel my employer is letting me go simply do to my pregnancy. What can I do?

Workplace Discrimination

If you feel that you've been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, take steps to become knowledgeable about your rights and be prepared with documentation. Take the time to review your employer's disability and maternity leave policies. Go over your performance reviews before and after your pregnancy to find out if there are any discrepancies. Also keep careful documentation of the time and incidences involved that might be integral to your case. To find more about your legal rights in the workforce, contact the United States Equal Opportunity Commission.

   
How do I know I long I should work during my pregnancy?

Deciding How Long to Work

Deciding how long to work during your pregnancy is a very personal decision. Your overall health, energy level, income needs, and career goals will all come into play. Some women may work to their seventh or eighth month of pregnancy while others may work up to the very end. In general, it's always wise to check with your employer's maternity leave policies to get an idea of what your options are. Plan for unforeseeable events like an early labor and delivery or being put on bed rest.

It's a good idea to consult your doctor about your specific situation.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.