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Applying for jobs while pregnant

Pregnancy at work

What you need to know


Applying for jobs while pregnant

An employer must treat you in exactly the same way as any other job applicant. When applying for work you must not be rejected because you are:
An employer must not, because of your pregnancy:
  • refuse to interview you or not appoint you to a job
  • give you a job for a limited period instead of permanent employment, or
  • offer you a lower salary or other different, less favourable terms than you would otherwise have been offered.

If my pregnancy is showing should I apply for a job?

Yes. If you are qualified to do the job you should not let pregnancy prevent you from applying. An employer must not refuse to appoint you to the job because of your pregnancy. The Equality Commission and Labour Relations Agency have developed guidance for employers which includes how an employer should act during recruitment exercises.

What do I do, if I do not get a job because the employer believes I might become pregnant?

If an employer does not appoint you because they assume that you might become pregnant because you are of childbearing age, or have recently got married, this would be sex discrimination or discrimination on the grounds of marital status (not pregnancy discrimination).

It would be advisable to write to the employer asking for the reasons you were not appointed to the job. If you are not satisfied with the explanation and believe you have been discriminated against, you should seek advice if you want to take your complaint further.

In a job interview, can I be asked if I am pregnant or intend to have children?

Employers should avoid asking these questions. They are legally required when making recruitment decisions not to consider whether you are pregnant, or might become pregnant. It is unlawful to not appoint you because you are pregnant or might become pregnant. The job must be offered to the best candidate based on skills and experience.

If you answer questions about being pregnant or having children in the future, and you do not get a job, you could argue that this is the reason you did not get the job. 

Can a recruitment agency ask me whether I am pregnant?

A recruitment agency should not ask if you are pregnant but if they do you are under no obligation to disclose your pregnancy. If you are disadvantaged by the agency, for example by not being put forward for posts, because you are pregnant, this would be pregnancy discrimination.

If I discover I am pregnant must I tell my new employer before I accept the job offer?

No, if you have been offered a job and discover you are pregnant you do not have to inform your new employer before you accept the job offer. If you do tell your employer and they withdraw the job offer because you are pregnant, it would be pregnancy discrimination.

I did not disclose my pregnancy when asked during the interview-could I be dismissed?

No. Your pregnancy is not relevant to your suitability for the job.  It would be pregnancy discrimination to dismiss you because you did not say you were pregnant during the interview. Employers are legally required not take into account the fact that a woman is pregnant, or might become pregnant when making recruitment decisions.

I think I did not get a job because of my pregnancy, what can I do?

If you believe the reason you were not offered the job is because of your pregnancy you should seek advice. This may help you decide whether you wish to take more formal action. However, you should bear in mind the time limits for making a claim to the Industrial Tribunal.

Can I ask to work part-time even if a job is advertised as full-time?

Yes, you may ask to work part-time, or other flexible working arrangement, after being offered the job. The statutory ‘right to apply for flexible working’ does not apply until you have been employed for 26 weeks but you can ask before 26 weeks. You can find more information about flexible working on the NI Direct website

A refusal may be indirect sex discrimination if your employer does not have justifiable business reasons to refuse. Indirect sex discrimination is where there is a provision, such as full-time working applied to everyone, which particularly disadvantages women compared to men, and which the employer cannot show is necessary for the business. Your employer must consider carefully whether the job could be done in the hours or pattern requested by you.

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