‘I’m expecting’: The news one in four job seekers don’t want to share

Pregnant job seekers are reluctant to share their happy news with potential employers.

Pregnant job seekers are reluctant to share their happy news with potential employers. Photo: Getty

One in four pregnant job seekers don’t want to announce their happy news during the recruitment process, but most employers want to know.

New research from job-posting site Indeed shows 24 per cent of job seekers wouldn’t reveal their pregnancy to a potential employer.

But 78 per cent of male employers and 65 per cent of female employers would always want a pregnancy disclosed in the early stages of recruitment.

Australian federal and state laws legally protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace.

Women also don’t legally have to disclose their pregnancy unless they are working in a high-risk environment.

Indeed career insights specialist Kate Furey said there is currently no legal requirement to disclose pregnancy during a recruitment process, including upon receiving a job offer.

She said while talking about your pregnancy during an interview can be liberating, some employers may view the news negatively.

But the way an employer reacts to the news could give pregnant job seekers a helpful insight into the overall workplace culture.

“Employers who are focused on recruiting the right talent for the role will assess a candidate based on their skills, experience and cultural fit, not their stage of life,” Ms Furey said.

The pregnancy effect

Tina, 42, is currently the owner of a creative consultancy in Melbourne.

In 2010, a large international company she had been freelancing for offered her a full-time job, which is when she decided to disclose her pregnancy.

The company congratulated her but rescinded the full-time job offer and invited her to stay on as a freelancer until after the birth – and that was the “end of the conversation”.

“Their policy was that you had to be there for 12 months to get any maternity leave benefits, [and] also for them to have any obligation to retain you,” Tina said.

Her husband, who had also just started a new job, felt no pressure to disclose Tina’s pregnancy during his recruitment.

She said his upwards career trajectory has been “very steep” but having children has compromised her earning capacity.

In 2015, Tina was made redundant from a different full-time job while on maternity leave with her third child after three years of employment.

“They basically said, ‘You either have to come back in a full-time capacity within the next two weeks, or we’re making you redundant’,” she said.

“I was still breastfeeding … for me to go back in a full-time capacity with a five-month-old was completely unrealistic.”

Tina knows of other women who were made redundant from the same agency while on maternity leave and were “made to sign confidentiality agreements”.

Tina consulted a lawyer, but found pursuing the matter legally would be too expensive.

How to announce the news in a job interview

Ms Furey said while you don’t have to disclose your pregnancy in a job interview, doing so would demonstrate “your honesty in an unequivocal way”.

She gave TND her top tips for disclosing pregnancy during the job recruitment process.

  • Have a plan: “If you choose to disclose your pregnancy during your job interview, prepare a plan for your leave period and integration into the company to share with the potential employer,” Ms Furey said. This shows employers that you will work hard before giving birth and will return to work as efficiently as possible
  • Be direct: “If you disclose your pregnancy, be direct when answering questions about your pregnancy status or your expectations before, during and after your delivery,” she said. “This shows you’re a thoughtful, advanced planner and you’re ready to commit to the role.”
  • Offer assurances: Ms Furey said you should reaffirm your enthusiasm and commitment to the position while sharing your news. “[Make] note of any intended childcare arrangements, or [share] examples of how you … managed with previous children,” she said.
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