I would like to know if I am obliged to inform an employer of my pregnancy during my interview. I am expecting my first child and I am afraid that if I tell them during the interview that I am pregnant, I will not get the job.
It can often happen that a prospective or existing employee applies for a job and is concerned that the fact that she is pregnant can count against her.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act determines that an employee must notify an employer in writing at least four weeks, or as soon as practically possible, when she would like to go on leave. There is no legal obligation for a person to reveal her pregnancy status.
There will be a duty on the job seeker to disclose her status if the employer explicitly asks her if she is aware that she is pregnant. The reason would simply be, that if the employer finds out later that she was aware of being pregnant and she mislead him or her, they can possibly discipline her for dishonesty or breach of trust. Should the applicant reveal that she is pregnant, and she doesn’t get the job, the onus will rest on her to prove that she is being discriminated against on the grounds of pregnancy.
Although the abovementioned is applicable to pregnancy, it is noteworthy to realise which information an applicant is generally obliged to disclose during an interview.
The commonly accepted rule is that an employer has the right that the person applying for the job, will answer all questions during the interview honestly and sincerely, that he or she will not provide false information and also will not withhold information that would cause, if the employer is aware of it, he or she would not agree upon a contract with the applicant. Law of Contracts calls these cases delusion, misrepresentation or deception and can result in a contract being declared null and void.
The employer is thus entitled to accurate information that is true and relevant to the decision to appoint someone applying for the job.
A general and common law of duty rests upon the applicant towards the employer, and trust and honesty are some of the duties included.
This means that jobseekers cannot, during their interview, mislead the employer about, among other things, qualifications they do not have, falsifying of credentials or academic certificates, or to withhold information about criminal convictions or disciplinary actions or dismissals.
In the matter of Evans v Protech (2002 7 BALR 704) the job applicant misled the employer by falsely pretending to be a qualified hairdresser. After employing her, they became aware of this and dismissed her. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) found that it was not justifiable that she misled the employer during the job application and interview. Her dishonesty broke the relationship of trust.
It is, however, extremely important that employers are aware that misconduct, dishonesty, false statements or even to lie cannot lead to automatic dismissal. In the matters of Maepe v CCMA & another (CLL Vol. June 17 2008), and Edcon Ltd v Pillemer NO and Others (191/08)  ZASCA 135 it was decided that the employer should first be able to state and prove that the behaviour really made continuous employment unbearable and that it gave rise to a material breach in the service and relationship of trust. Only then will conviction of the above behaviour lead to dismissal. In the Econ matter, the third respondent (Reddy) who was the employee, acknowledged that she had misled the employer by lying about the cause of damage to a company vehicle. Her dismissal was substantively unfair because the employer failed to argue and prove that her conduct had led to an irreparable break in the relationship of trust.