Many women find themselves confronted with a situation where they’ve just found out that they’re pregnant and suddenly a job opportunity presents itself.
You might feel torn between coming clean and not divulging this information and fear omitting this may result in blow back further down the line.
While disclosing your pregnancy before you accept an employment offer might be the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, from a legal perspective, a woman is under absolutely no obligation to disclose a pregnancy upfront, according to Labourwise legal expert Barney Jordaan.
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“In terms of both the Employment Equity Act and the Labour Relations Act, pregnant employees may not unfairly be discriminated against because of pregnancy or any reason related thereto,” Jordaan explains.
“This means, among other things, that an employer may not exclude someone from employment merely because she’s pregnant. By the same token, an employee may not be dismissed simply because she’s pregnant or taking maternity leave.”
Referencing a precedent set in a court case which involved a woman who was victimised by her manager for failing to disclose her pregnancy upfront.
She was later dismissed for insubordination, poor performance and “omission of critical information at time of application for employment regarding pregnancy”.
The judge in the court case found that “it is trite that a pregnant employee has no legal obligation to disclose her pregnancy other than as required for purposes of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (for maternity leave purposes)”.
“This obligation extends to both an actual or planned pregnancy. The employee is arbiter, in consultation with her doctor, of when it would be necessary for her to commence maternity leave and her health and that of her baby is the primary consideration in this regard,” the judgement read.
READ MORE: Real talk: The realities of motherhood
So there you have it ladies, an employer doesn’t have the right to ask you if you’re pregnant and you’re under no obligation to divulge a potential pregnancy.
If you do find that you’re discriminated against because of your failure to disclose, your employer will have a case to answer to.