It’s Not Okay to Ask a Job Candidate if She’s Planning to Have a Baby

by Evil HR Lady on August 2, 2017

“Are you planning on getting pregnant in the next two years?” is a question best left to physicians, and definitely not hiring managers or mothers-in-law. While the question isn’t, technically, illegal in the United States, it can definitely lead towards illegal discrimination if you ask it. (Asking questions about race, gender, pregnancy status, etc., aren’t illegal, but once you know the answer you have to be super careful not to take that into consideration in your hiring decision.) Wise hiring managers and recruiters know to stay far, far away from such questions.

But what if the job “candidate” is an actual political candidate? Is it okay to ask a politician when (if) she plans to reproduce? New Zealand is currently battling this out.

Jacinda Ardern, 37, was elected Labour party leader after the previous leader, Andrew Little, stepped down yesterday. And the question is, does she want to have a baby? A talk show host, Mark Richardson, argues that this is a valid question for Ardern. He said:

To keep reading, click here: It’s Not Okay to Ask a Job Candidate if She’s Planning to Have a Baby

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny August 2, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Would you ask a male candidate if he was planning to have a heart attack, or be injured in a car crash? The fact that he was not wouldn’t mean that it wouldn’t happen, any more than the fact that a female was planning to get pregnant would mean that she would. Would you ask a man if he was planning on parenting a new baby in the next 2 years? There’s simply no situation in which this question would be appropriate coming from an employer.

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heatherskib August 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Or even ask a male candidate if HE was planning to father children over the next two years! Part of a push for equality includes paternity leave. At the least it would be a reduction in sleep and finances for any candidate.

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Jill August 2, 2017 at 6:27 pm

And the whole reason she was able to even run for this seat was because the MAN who previously occupied the office left early, before the next general election. Isn’t that an interruption in the office??

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Maria Rose August 2, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Thinking that this is a topic for questioning follows the male- dominated theory that a woman’s brain doesn’t function as well as a man, therefore she “should be treated differently and gently”.
Maybe it is an ingrained focus from our cave man days but even then, a woman was expected to continue functioning in the group.
Whatever the reason a woman is looking to be in the workplace, it is her decision to be there and if the workplace was more supportive of their workers, less workers would feel the need to not keep productive when taking time off.
Present day companies (at least here in US), feel that paying employees for any time off cuts into profits instead of finding a productive way around this. We don’t even have effective childcare programs.

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Kat August 2, 2017 at 9:32 pm

It’s absolutely no ones business but if I were her, I’d use this as a platform not just for the ridiculousness of the question but to talk about what would she do. How would she handle? See, I have a plan. Do the other people have a plan as good as my plan? But that’s me.

My governor got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and worked from his hospital bed. No one can argue that he didn’t work like crazy while out “sick”. And that was surely unplanned. There is a reason he’s one of the most popular governors in the country.

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Naomi August 2, 2017 at 10:50 pm

Resident Kiwi here – it was interesting when they did a vox pop bit on the news last night about it and everyone agreed that it was no one’s business.
She’s actually made an impact already – they’ve been swamped with funding and offers to volunteer since she took over – at one point they were receiving $700 a minute. It’s certainly made the election a bit more interesting!

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mer August 3, 2017 at 12:28 pm

“… or mother in law..”.
The only proper answer to a MIL or Mom asking is “when we’re done practicing, we’ll think about it”.

“Thinking that this is a topic for questioning follows the male- dominated theory that a woman’s brain doesn’t function as well as a man, therefore she “should be treated differently and gently”.”
As a man, I take great offense that you believe I think a womans brain doesn’t function as well as a mans. Sterotyping at it’s finest. The most I will grant is that male and female brains work differently. Neither way is better or worse, it just is.

What happens to the work that a women does before she takes an effective leave of absence from work to have the baby and spend time at home with the newborn? Does the work stop or does it get divided amongst others? The mother is protected by law, so as a practical matter, the mother’s workload gets handled by everyone else in the group or a temp worker is hired, potentially overloading others in the group or real cost to the company by paying twice for the same job.

Of course this is not really related to asking the question during an interview or the legality of asking it, just trying to point out that there are real business related reasons that are directly tied to having a worker out of work for an extended period of time, regardless of the reason. Sorry @grannybunny and @mariarose, it ain’t always about sex or gender or whatever one wants to call it.

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J.B. August 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm

So what is the impact on work when a man is out on paternity leave? That was really important to our family. It was fine, husband’s work dealt with it. They would never in a million years thought to ask about a man’s plans for paternity leave though! And I’ve never heard of any decent employer asking someone with cancer how they were going to get the work done. Sympathy, focus on getting better, and the managers figure out the work impact BEHIND THE SCENES.

My brain doesn’t work the way it used to because I’ve got all the kid scheduling to keep up with. However, I’ve gotten much better at time management and juggling competing demands. Funny how my male bosses rely on me so much while they won’t promote me…

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J.B. August 3, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Ha, ha. My mother in law did at least keep quiet on the baby question until we let them know baby was on the way. Unfortunately she hasn’t kept parenting advice to herself since that time…

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