Pregnancy and Employment

Pregnancy and Employment Questions and Answers

Young pregnant woman picking up phone on desk, mid section, side view
E Dygas / Digital Vision / Getty Images

If you have a baby on the way, you'll need to know about interviewing while pregnant, when to tell your employer you're pregnant, pregnancy and disability law, and the best ways to handle pregnancy and employment.

Q Do I have to tell the interviewer that I'm pregnant?

A. No, you don't have to tell them. The fact that you are pregnant isn't relevant to whether or not you are the right person for the job.

You might want to interview as usual and get the interviewer interested in your qualifications prior to mentioning your pregnancy.

Then consider discussing your pregnancy during the negotiation phase of the interview process. Why bring it up if you don't have to? Because the employer will know in the near future anyway and you don't want them to feel like they were misled. Either way, it's a personal decision and you need to decide, based on the circumstances, when would be the best time to disclose.

Q. When should I tell my employer that I'm pregnant?

A. The best time to tell your employer is when you need to and when the time is right for you. It could be when you're starting to show, when your employer may need to make accommodations for your pregnancy, when you need time off for the doctor or need to take disability leave.  Personally, I'm in favor of being open with your employer. I told my boss as soon as my pregnancy was confirmed and I had only been working for my employer for a couple of months.

For me, it was easier to plan doctor visits and a maternity leave without stressing over it because I didn't want to mention the pregnancy. On the other hand, I know people who have waited for months and that worked out fine too.

From the other side of the desk, I supervised a person who didn't tell us she was pregnant.

She took lots of time off from work, was very ill with morning sickness and because we had no clue what was happening, we were afraid she was deathly ill.  We would have been much happier knowing she was pregnant!

Q. What maternity benefits am I entitled to?

A. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to twelve weeks leave during a calendar year or your company's fiscal year. However, your employer is not mandated to pay your salary. They are mandated to give you the same job or a job with equal pay and benefits when you come back to work.

You may be entitled to disability pay, but, it will probably be less than your normal paycheck.Check with your employer to determine what additional benefits, if any, you may be entitled to. Also check on health insurance coverage for yourself and your baby.

Q. When do I have to go back to work?

A. That depends. Check with your employer to find out what maternity leave benefits they provide.  You are entitled to at least the twelve weeks provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Your employer may have more generous benefits. Inquire about the possibility of coming back part-time at first, or even job sharing if you don't feel able to commit to working full-time.

Q. Can I collect unemployment if I'm pregnant?

A. Yes, you can collect unemployment when you're pregnant. Your pregnancy should not impact your eligibility for unemployment compensation. In fact, it is a violation of federal and state law to deny a claimant eligibility for unemployment on account of pregnancy. Here's information on eligibility for unemployment when you are pregnant.

Q. I've been discriminated against. What do I do?

A. You can file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Charges may be filed in person, by mail or by telephone by contacting the nearest EEOC office. If there is not an EEOC office in the immediate area, call toll free 800-669-4000.

Read More: Pregnancy and Discrimination Issues and Employer Requirements

Update July 16, 2014:  On July 14, 2014 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated and amended the enforcement guidelines for pregnancy discrimination.

Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines from the EEOC

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 provides that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same way as other individuals with temporary disabilities.

Therefore, a pregnant woman cannot be treated differently from any other employer with any other disability.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Requirements

1. An employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and

2. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.

Amended Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Requirements

Title VII, as amended by the PDA, prohibits discrimination based on the following:

  • Current Pregnancy
  • Past Pregnancy
  • Potential or Intended Pregnancy
  • Medical Conditions Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth

Pregnancy Discrimination Requirements (from the EEOC Fact Sheet for Small Businesses)

The PDA requires that a covered employer treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

The PDA covers all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, and fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance benefits). Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.

  • Current pregnancy. Under the PDA, an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote, or take any other adverse action against a woman if pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition was a motivating factor in the adverse employment action. This is true even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee's best interest.
  • Past Pregnancy. An employer may not discriminate against an employee or applicant based on a past pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition or childbirth. For example, an employer may not fire a woman because of pregnancy during or at the end of her maternity leave.
  • Potential Pregnancy. An employer may not discriminate based on an employee's intention or potential to become pregnant. For example, an employer may not exclude a woman from a job involving processing certain chemicals out of concern that exposure would be harmful to a fetus if the employee became pregnant.  Concerns about risks to a pregnant employee or her fetus will rarely, if ever, justify sex-specific job restrictions for a woman of childbearing capacity.
  • Medical Condition Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth. An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of a medical condition related to pregnancy and must treat the employee the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

    Read More: EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues | Pregnancy and Employment Questions and Answers

    DISCLAIMER: The private web sites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, are opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only.

    Continue Reading...