A guide to hiring pregnant women and helping them succeed

A guide to hiring pregnant women and helping them succeed

Hiring a pregnant woman means bringing on an employee you know will need parental leave soon after they begin work. This can make it stressful for companies that need to fill a permanent, full-time position. However, it's illegal to discriminate against pregnant women. In addition, your company could lose out on top talent by excluding pregnant women from the hiring pool. Although there are challenges associated with hiring a pregnant candidate, there are also many benefits. Use this guide to help you with hiring a pregnant woman so they can succeed in the workplace.

Should you hire a pregnant woman?

As a business owner or hiring manager, you may be reluctant to hire a pregnant employee. Knowing your new employee will need to take several weeks off in the near future can be discouraging. But there are several good reasons not to exclude pregnant candidates. In fact, a woman who discloses that she's pregnant during the hiring process is someone who is honest, which is an important quality to have in an employee.

Additionally, a woman is typically pregnant for about 40 weeks if she goes to full term. So if you hire a woman early in her pregnancy, you'll have plenty of time to train her for her role at the company. By giving a pregnant woman a job, you gain their trust. This makes it more likely that they will return to work after their maternity leave ends. Because women want stability for their families, they often appreciate having a good job to return to. Ensuring that your new employee feels appreciated allows them to get comfortable in their role.

Can you avoid hiring a pregnant candidate?

A woman doesn't have to disclose that she's pregnant during the hiring process. You also can't discriminate against pregnant women, as they are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This means that you can't decide not to hire someone just because they are pregnant. Even if you have a small company with fewer than 15 employees, local governments often have laws in place to protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace. This includes getting hired.

Your company should have a clearly defined parental leave policy made available to every employee to protect the business and its employees. If pregnant women know what you expect with their parental leave and how long they can take off, there shouldn't be any issues. Your company should have a plan in place to cover the gap while someone is on parental leave to smooth the transition.

How to support a pregnant woman during the hiring process

Being pregnant is stressful, and looking for work is also not an easy process. By supporting a pregnant candidate, you can take some challenges out of the job-search process. One of the best ways to support a pregnant woman during the hiring process is to ensure that they know your company won't use their pregnancy as a deciding factor when choosing the ideal candidate. Let them know that your company will only consider their skills and qualifications as they go through the hiring process.

While it's good to ask the candidate about their pregnancy so they don't feel awkward, you don't want to make it the focus of an interview or discussion regarding the role's duties. You can ask them what their plans are after the pregnancy and make sure that they know you expect them to continue working for your company. This helps pregnant candidates feel confident because they know that they have a future with your organization.

How to support a pregnant employee once they're hired

Once your company hires a pregnant employee, they'll need your continued support. A pregnant woman requires regular doctor's visits, which means they might need you to be flexible with their schedule. Discuss the best times of day and days of the week for them to schedule doctor's visits so they don't interfere with accomplishing tasks. 

Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Some may feel nauseous, while others might feel strong emotions. It's important to be understanding and realize these things are temporary. Treat a pregnant employee like you would any other new hire, with the same expectations for the job. Depending on the role, you may have to accommodate certain needs for pregnant employees, such as avoiding heavy lifting or using harsh chemicals. 

"One of the best ways to support a pregnant woman during the hiring process is to ensure that they know your company won't use their pregnancy as a deciding factor when choosing the ideal candidate."

Another way to support a pregnant team member is to organize a celebration for them before they take their parental leave. This shows that you care and look forward to having them return to the workplace. You'll also want to have another employee or a temporary hire who can take care of the most important jobs the pregnant woman is normally responsible for while they're gone. Knowing that someone is there to cover their work can help a pregnant woman feel comfortable and less stressed about returning to their job.

Tips for hiring a pregnant employee

Hiring pregnant employees has pros and cons, but your company can't discriminate against a pregnant woman during the hiring process. Here are some helpful tips to help you make the most of adding a pregnant employee to your team:

  • Only consider a pregnant woman's credentials and abilities.
  • Treat a pregnant candidate just like any other potential employee.
  • Make sure your employees understand that discrimination against a pregnant woman is illegal.
  • Don't be afraid to discuss the pregnancy — just don't make it uncomfortable.
  • Have a parental leave policy in your employee handbook, and make the book accessible.
  • Be clear in your expectations for the role regardless of the pregnancy.

If you decide not to move forward with hiring a pregnant woman, ensure you make it clear that the pregnancy did not influence the decision. Give the pregnant candidate suggestions on how they might improve their resume, skill set, or education to make them a better fit for your company. This could help you avoid any legal action they might take if they felt your company treated them unfairly because of the pregnancy.

What to do after a pregnant employee gives birth

After a pregnant employee gives birth, you'll want to continue to support them. Becoming a new parent brings many challenges, so being understanding can make your employees want to stick around for years to come. Once your employee has their baby, send a small gift to show that you care and look forward to having them back in the workplace. Here are some gift ideas to consider:

  • A card
  • Flowers
  • Nursing supplies or bottles
  • A baby outfit with the company logo
  • A soft blanket
  • Diapers
  • Bathing supplies
  • A small toy or plush

When they return to work, welcome them back with a celebration. Check that their work area is clean and organized. Ask them if there is anything you can do to ease their transition back to work. Allow them some time to adjust, and understand they may seem tired for a while.

Women make strong candidates for many roles. By considering hiring pregnant employees, a company expands its talent pool and potentially adds exceptional people to its team. Don't discredit a pregnant woman, as you could miss out on hiring top talent that could help your company reach its goals.

More tips about hiring and supporting women in the workplace

Here's why it's important to support women's well-being in the workplace.

Find out why creating a more flexible work arrangement might help you hire more women.

Work-life balance is key to attracting top female talent to your workplace.

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