Q: Jill, I’m currently pregnant but not showing and looking for work. I wanted to know if I have to tell my potential employers of my condition at the interview. Better yet, for the sake of honesty, is it something I should be mentioning in the application process in a cover letter or initial e-mails?
A: The simple answer is no, Suzanne. Under the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) Code there are “no permissible questions about disabilities at the application stage,” including those related to your general health. Beyond that and specific to pregnancy, there are no questions allowed during the application stage about your plans to start a family. However, employers can sometimes get around this by asking you about your flexibility around shift work, travelling or relocation for job purposes. Accommodations for employees with special needs such as pregnancy or health or religious issues, for instance, should only be discussed after a conditional offer of employment has been offered. So, that’s what the code has to offer us. Now, let’s talk now about your conscience.
I can understand why you would like to put it in your cover letter or mention it in the first job interview in hopes of being honest, but the truth is, by doing this you are giving them a reason to pass on you and move on to the next person.
You have a right to start a family and once you’ve been hired for at least three months and one week before your baby’s due date, you’ve got the right to parental leave. If an employer doesn’t honour that or makes you feel guilty and proceeds to harass you, then that employer is breaking the law.
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In the end, it is a personal decision. You can decide to mention this the moment your pregnancy is confirmed or you can exercise your right in informing your employer once you are showing. It’s up to you, but be well educated on your rights and the responsibilities of employers first. Good luck!
Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.
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