Ethical dilemma re: work - any advice? (a bit long)

I currently work fulltime for a company that pays pretty well, has great benefits, etc. Unfortunately my boss and I have had HUGE unresolvable conflicts and Human Resources and Upper Management have gone to some effort to move me so I have similar responsibilities, but report to someone else. This is so recent it hasn’t actually even happened yet - it’s about a month away. The solution isn’t ideal (I was hoping for a position in a different department) but I can live with it and make the best of it.

I have a job interview next week for a government position - I don’t know much about it but it sounds clerical (which is what I do now). I believe a change of scenery and some new challenges would be beneficial to me. The pay is about the same, I have no idea about the benefits package they offer. However, my boyfriend has GREAT benefits, which cover me as well, so that’s okay.

Here is my dilemma - it’s a 3 parter:

  1. I feel somewhat obligated to my current place of employment since they have gone to some trouble to rectify the current unhealthy work situation, and I would feel like a bit of a heel leaving after all the fuss.
  2. In order to attend the interview, I will have to basically lie to my boss, which I feel bad about. But if I’m honest about it, I will make a bad situation even worse, and HR will no doubt find out about it, which takes me back to Dilemma Part 1.
  3. I have JUST found out that I’m pregnant. Assuming I were successful at obtaining this new job, is it right of me to accept it, knowing that in 7 months I’m going to be away from it for almost a year? Am I under any obligation to tell them before their decision is made?

What do you think is right?

Congrats on getting pregnant. :slight_smile:

Number 3 seems like the easiest to answer.
Umm, yes, you probably should tell them.

Its a win-win.
If you tell them and they say “Join us. We don’t mind.” You’ve got a great job + 1 year off. :smiley:

If you tell them and they say “Nope. We can’t hire you”, then dilemma 1 and 2 are solved.

Personally, I would take the government job because they have great benefits and maternity leave. It’s also basically impossible for you to get fired. You need to look out for yourself right now, not your bosses. But then, I’ve never felt much loyalty to a workplace; my loyalty rests with myself and my loved ones. So yeah, I’d say go with the government job because they’re becoming increasingly harder to get and are generally great jobs, salary and benefits-wise.

What kind of company has medical benefits for unmarried opposite sex domestic partners?

Oh yeah, and I wouldn’t tell the new job about the pregnancy either. Why handicap yourself?

If you tell them about the pregnancy and they say they can’t hire you… it’s discrimination, baby. They can do it, but they can’t say it.

Government places are less likely to do that than for-profit companies, though. They usually follow the rules they wrote.

Unless there is something in your contract OR in a company policy that you were actually given (my US employers seemed to love having policies that you were expected to follow but you couldn’t get hold of), I think you don’t need to tell your boss. Do you have “personal days”? It’s a paid day off that you don’t have to give a reason for, and which is not exactly part of your vacation - you just say “hi boss, sorry but I need to take next Thursday off, sorry”. My last US employer had them.

And yes, I know BC is in Canada, I can actually place it in the map… but I’ve had US employers, haven’t had Canadian employers, and from what I know Canadian practices are likely to be more similar to US than EU ones.

Does Canada really give a year off for maternity leave and guarantee you your job upon return?

Keapon - thanks for your congrats!

Nava - yep, we do get paid time off, but my boss has instituted his own unwritten policy that you have to give him 4-6 weeks notice. This is someone who won’t even let me go to the doctor or dentist without a big fight. Can you say “control freak”?!?!?!?

continuity error - lots of companies consider common-law partners the same as married, and provide benefits accordingly. At least, it has never been an issue for me. One company required that you live together for at least 6 months first, but this one says as soon as you live together, you’re as good as married, which is quite awesome.

**missbunny ** - our unemployment insurance program gives you 50 weeks off (combined maternity and parental) with coverage (not 100% of course, I think it’s closer to 60% of your gross wage). I would take some leave, and then my boyfriend would take some. It’s pretty cool. And yes, your job is there waiting for you when you return. At least it’s been that way for every new mom I know.

Canada rocks!!! :slight_smile:

It just really bugs me to lie and be sneaky, but at the same time, I don’t want to sabotage my future at my current job, if I’m not successful in this interview.

I know no-one can really tell me what to do, I guess I just wanted to get it off my chest …



Quite a few, actually.

As of 2003, 40% of the Fortune 500 offered domestic partner benefits. Research shows that those benefits are under-utilized, however, and many people don’t even realize those benefits are available to them. DP benefits have pretty much become mainstream in the US. Here’s a partial 2001 list. I’d say that’s a lot of eligible employees even then.

Just wanted to clear up any misconceptions.
[/end hijack]

In any case, my vote is:

Do whatever your gut is telling you. But put your family and health above all else. Loyalty to an employer is highly over-rated in my estimation. At the end of the day, it’s going to be your family that really matters. Do what’s right by your family. And, by all means, include them in your decision-making process.

If you decide to go with the government job, I don’t think you owe them any explanation. They can’t ask and you aren’t obligated to tell about your pregnancy. If you tell and you don’t get the job, can you be sure it wasn’t because of your condition? No. If you don’t tell and don’t get the job, you can. If you get the job your new employer is in the same boat your old employer would have been. What’s the diff? In seven months, you could prove to be a valuable employee and they will be glad to have you and welcome you back after maternity leave (one whole year though??)

As far as an excuse for your current employer for the absence, take a personal day. All you should have to say is that you have personal obligations that must be dealt with. If you’re company doesn’t offer personal days, take a sick day. (Just don’t lie and say you’re sick. “I can’t make it in today” should suffice.)

Disavow yourself of the notion that you’ll be wasting your employer’s efforts to make your workplace hospitable if you decide to leave. That’s what any decent employer would do. Whether you leave for whatever reason, the fact that they did the right thing is probably not lost on other employees.

I would say not to talk about your pregnancy at either place of work until you’re well along and can no longer hide it easily. For one thing, (heaven forbid) but there’s always that chance that it won’t work out and a miscarriage occur. Then it seems to be more professional to keep it to yourself for awhile and then announce it with confidence, revealing that it hasn’t hindered you so far and that you assume it would never occur to your manager to think of it as a problem.

I’m not sure how or if this would make a difference, but many employers have a probationary period during which they can terminate you at will. It’s not uncommon for these periods to be 6 months long. Announcing a pregnancy during this period might not bode well for you. IANAL, so I don’t know the legalities of it. Just something to keep in mind.

There can also be waiting periods for benefits. Again, I don’t know how this affects maternity leave, etc. But I wouldn’t take a new job assuming that I’d get full benefits immediately, especially if I had a big life event like a baby coming up.

I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate.

While I can’t speak for a government entity, an employer is adverstising for and interviewing applicants because they have a need. They need a body in a chair (or on a phone or whatever). While I personally would not break the law, I would not be very pleased if you knowingly took a slot that you were going to leave 6 months later. My need is again unfulfilled, and I then have the expense of finding a solution again. And while no employer will (or at least should) outright say they weren’t hiring you because you are pregnant, unless you are demonstrably better than any other applicant, it will likely be figured negatively into the hiring process.

As for (1) and (2), employees switch jobs. While a micro-manager might take it personally, HR certainly shouldn’t. You claw and scratch for the best possible deal where you are, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot look outside for a better deal. There is nothing unethical about that. Just don’t say you are interviewing. Simply say that you need a personal day and that you couldn’t schedule it 4-6 weeks in advance, and don’t let yourself be bullied into giving a reason other than to say, “It’s a personal day” (easier said than done for many, I know). If boss says no, and gives no alternatives, then be sick that day. He’s forcing your hand.

Can the prospective employer interview you before or after regular hours? That is fairly common when interviewing employed candidates.

Some people are describing personal days quite a bit more liberally than I’ve generally seen employers to interpret them. But 4-6 weeks notice is unreasonable. If you do need to take time off for the interview, I recommend understanding your employer’s leave policy (are 1/2 days allowed? hourly increments? etc.) and then requesting leave under the policy.

Under US law, you have no obligation to disclose a pregnancy and discriminating against you due to the pregnancy (including retaliation) would be illegal. I’d expect Canada’s laws to offer more protection rather than less. My advice is don’t let anybody guilt-trip you into disclosing it. I say that even as an HR person. The agency as a whole doesn’t benefit from the legal exposure if one manager decides to illegally descriminate against you for something that he/she had no reason to consider.

No way in hell would I tell them I was pregnant before a job offer was made. It’s illegal for them to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, but you are never going to be able to determine if that is why a job offer was not made.

Further, a government agency is going to have contingency plans in place for maternal/parental leave. Casual employees may be offered a term position during your leave. It will be taken care of.

EI coverage is 55% of your regular salary up to a maximum amount. If your new job happens to be for the Federal government, they may top up your salary however.

Yeah, my company tops it up to 67% pay for 54 weeks off (combined for either person). It’s actually 17 weeks of Maternaty leave and 37 weeks of parental leave.

My company states you must work for at least 6 months before mat leave and complete another year afterwards (or they clawback the extra 12% pay). Make sure you look up the law regarding mat leave as it might exclude you from getting any extra topups.

EI pays for mat leave so the company actually doesn’t get hurt so much but it’s still a pain in the ass. Your medical benefits probably won’t kick in though so keep that in mind (again, it’s a 3 month probation + another 6 months wait).

My take.

  1. Don’t worry about it. HR knows you’re dissatisfied, and will not be shocked at all if you leave. Happens all the time. They are getting paid to fix the problem, its not like they are doing you a favor.

  2. Don’t worry about this either. 4 - 6 weeks notice for a day off? That’s crazy! Be sick, declare an emergency, whatever. You won’t be working long for this person.

  3. I would let them know. If they hire you, and a few months later you surprise them, it can poison the relationship.

I assume your maternity benefit kicks in even if you stay in your current job, right? If so, why not wait to look for a new job until after you come back? You’ve been working at the current company long enough so they can’t complain, you’ll be away from the situation, and you might see things differently in a year. You might not work the whole seven months after all. You also won’t have to worry about benefits or anything else.

You all have given me a lot to think about … thank you!

There is a part of me that is very disillusioned with my current employer and I would love a “fresh start”. I would really enjoy learning some new skills and meeting new people.

Plus, this isn’t a big city and decent-paying clerical jobs are very very rare. In a way, I feel very fortunate to even be IN this situation.

Perhaps I can find out what the possible new employer’s policy is re: employees going on mat. leave, in terms of how long one has to be working there before one qualifies.

I also have no idea which company offers the best job security or chance for advancement. Hmmmmm … does anyone have a crystal ball they can lend me? :slight_smile:

In every place I’ve ever worked people left whenever they found a better opportunity, and no one in HR ever felt hurt or angry. If the employee were especially valuable the company might make a counter offer, but otherwise everyone said “Good luck” and went on their way. Unless there was a different set of expectations and unless those expectations were made clear at hiring, there is no ethical problem here.

Companies should allow their employees to have time to attend to personal matters even if it is without pay. Personal matters don’t need to be explained to your boss. If that’s not the case where you work, then there is an ethical issue, but it lies with your company and not with you.

The last dilemma is the one that’s bothering me - not because it’s particularly difficult, but because of the way so many people have dismissed it as an easy lie to tell. Being pregnant is not like being Black. Your condition might have a serious impact on your company, especially if you plan on taking nearly a year off. It would be quite unfair to them - and totally unethical - to not bring this out in the interview. Remember also that once you announce your due date they be able to do the math and will know that you were not forthcoming with them. This is not a good way to start a job.

There is a fourth ethical issue here that you didn’t ask about. Now that you and your boyfriend are having a child do you plan on getting married?

How is it “totally unethical” if she doesn’t disclose a condition for which they cannot deny her employment? That’s ridiculous. And, BTW, not disclosing this information when there is no obligation to do so is not tantamount to lying.

And what’s this got to do with anything??? So now it takes a little piece of paper to properly raise children? :rolleyes:

Thanks Cinnamon Girl