Job interviews are awful. AWFUL. Nobody enjoys them, let’s be honest. It’s an elaborate dance of Q&A, forcibly bright body language and awkward pauses. So much of what goes on in a job interview is unspoken. Especially when the interviewee is female.
Baby plans? When? Are you using contraception? Is it reliable? Could you be pregnant now or is that just an empire line top you’re wearing?
But what if those questions weren’t unspoken? What if employers could legally ask them? Would you answer honestly?
They want to know because hiring somebody who is pregnant or about to be pregnant puts a serious kink in their future plans for your role and their business. It has implications for them and for your future co-workers. So are you obliged to disclose your conception intentions?
According to the Sunday Telegraph:
BOSSES and recruiters say that, during job interviews, women should disclose their future plans to have a baby.
Several employers told The Sunday Telegraph women should be open about their family plans when applying for a job – some believing it would actually help them secure a position.
A discussion in the UK’s House of Lords last week has sparked intense debate among global businesses, recruiters and politicians.
Prominent businessman and boss in the British television version of The Apprentice, Lord Alan Sugar, urged women to be “forthcoming” by declaring their status on children and childcare “so as to pre-empt any unaskable questions in the mind of the interviewer”.
“Employment regulations for women, whereby the prospective employer is not able to inquire about the interviewee’s status regarding children, childcare, or indeed their intention of becoming a parent, are counterproductive,” he said. In Australia and in the UK, employers are prevented by law from asking female applicants if they plan to have kids.
Hmmmm, “bosses and recruiters” think it’s a good idea? And that it could HELP your employment prospects. Oh sure.
But there are some recruiters, women included, who think that being up front and honest with your bosses really will be good for you (it’s still not clear exactly how). And Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce took a different tack, saying it was best just to assume a woman would want a child.
That doesn’t sound any better. Do all women want babies? Do bosses see wombs when women walk in for an interview?
The article continues from above:
“Federal Status of Women Minister Kate Ellis said businesses were mandated to employ people on merit, not on age and gender assumptions.
NSW Shadow Minister for Women Pru Goward said it was blatant sex discrimination. “Where does it stop? Do you ask a woman whether she has a boyfriend? Why don’t we ask men whether they have had affairs in the office? There are a lot of personal things that would be useful for employers to know but it doesn’t achieve anything and it is offensive.”
Business owner Jack Singleton said employers do make gender assumptions. “You look at men and know men can’t get pregnant,” he said.
TV presenter and journalist Tracey Spicer says “the writing was on the wall” for her career at Channel Ten when she told her former employer that she wanted to have children.
The 43-year-old said a manager at the station unlawfully asked her years ago whether she was planning on having kids in the next five years. “I trusted this man so stupidly I was honest and I said yes and from that point onwards you could virtually hear the doors being slammed shut, she said.”
With the introduction of paid parental leave in Australia, things are looking up. But there are some intensely private and personal issues at play here, beyond just what’s good for business. For many women, the prospect of miscarriage is real and many of us prefer to keep things quiet for the first few months of our pregnancy. Is this not our right?
And what if you haven’t yet decided if or when you want to have children? What if you’re undergoing IVF? Does your boss have the right to know that? Should you email him or her a photo every time you pee on a stick?