Job Tips

Expectant mum? Be open about it if you get job offer

This is a column on workplace issues.

The Straits Times - January 21, 2013
By: Anita Gabriel
Expectant mum? Be open about it if you get job offer

SUSAN ASKED: I was interviewed for a job when I was a couple of months pregnant and wasn't showing.

I didn't tell the hiring manager as I felt it would disadvantage me. I was recently offered the job and plan to accept it.

Was I wrong? When is the best time to let the company know?

You hid your little baby bump at a job interview. There isn't much wrong with that. Besides, you were still within the first trimester and most women try to keep their impending motherhood to themselves till the first pivotal 12 weeks are over.

Now that you've snagged the job though - good on you! - it may be time to open up that you're an expectant mum if you intend to accept the offer.

One can't underestimate how important it is to start your new job on the right footing and, by that, I mean being transparent.

"The interview process is all about building trust," says Ms Karen Clifford, Towers Watson's human resource director for South-east Asia and India.

"By telling them about your pregnancy at the time of accepting the offer, your credibility will increase in the minds of your prospective employers."

That could well work in your favour eventually and will be particularly important when you return to the job after your maternity leave.

Your employer may make a greater effort to cater to flexible working hours should you need them, says Mr Michael Smith, Randstad's Singapore director.

That way, too, the employer is able to plan your role in the firm and what to expect from you.

For one thing, your job may require you to travel a lot and that may put your health at risk.

By being open, all parties can manage their expectations better.

Your trepidation is perfectly understandable. But here's some comfort. "In today's tight labour market, when employers are trying to outdo one another to attract and retain the best talent, it would be myopic if they were to reject a pregnant female candidate," says The GMP Group's Mr Josh Goh.

He suggests that you assure your future employer that your pregnancy will not affect the quality of your work.

"Try putting yourself in the employer's shoes. Be proactive and provide a solution to ease the firm from the manpower issues when you are away for pre-natal medical check-ups and maternity leave," he adds.

Also remember the same rules on probation apply to you - pregnant or not.

The employer can terminate your service if there is dissatisfaction with your work during this period, even if the law generally protects a pregnant employee from unfair dismissal.

"This is why I cannot stress more that the job expectations must be spelt out clearly," Mr Goh advises.