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I was just offered a postdoc position, but my wife is pregnant, and we are expecting the child a month after starting the postdoc.

This is my second child, so I know what is required to take care of a newborn. I will need at least a couple days per week to work from home to assist my wife.

Should I tell the PI before signing the offer? I know he technically isn’t allowed to count such things against me in the hiring process, but I want to maintain a good relationship with the PI.

I am in the US.

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  • 3
    In which country is this? Laws and customs differ.
    – henning
    Jun 24, 2021 at 18:19
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    The argument against telling the PI before signing is (I presume) that this might cause them to rescind the offer. If the PI were the sort of person to do that, they are unlikely to be much more supportive if you only tell them after signing. One might argue it's better to learn whether they're an idiot before you've committed yourself to working for them.
    – avid
    Jun 24, 2021 at 18:28
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    @henning I have 2 other offers, but I very much prefer the particular lab, which I am referring to.
    – Ralff
    Jun 24, 2021 at 18:39
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    Suppose you don't tell them now, and then sign, and tell them after signing, and they say "no"? What would you do then?
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 24, 2021 at 18:40
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    How well do you know the PI? Do they have kids? I haven't had quite the same situation, but I did have a postdoc who was getting married soon after graduation and wanted to delay starting until afterwards. I suggested he start immediately, get covered by medical insurance, and take unpaid leave for the wedding (no vacation accrued yet). In your case I would insist on you starting as soon as possible so medical coverage is in place. Babies don't always understand the whole 'due date' thing and can be pretty cavalier about them.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 24, 2021 at 19:30

2 Answers 2

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You already have the offer. Telling the PI your wife is pregnant will not change that offer.

Parental leave is usually a matter of policy, not individual negotiation. Read the policy (or possibly union contract) and follow it first.

If you want to negotiate something contractually binding, which might include an altered work schedule or altered start date, you should do that between receiving the offer and accepting it.

If you simply want your PI to be understanding of the difficulties you will encounter when you have a new child, you should let them know several months before the due date. I do not know the time period between when you received the offer and the start date, so it is not clear how this relates to your situation.

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I would mention this:

"I will need at least a couple days per week to work from home to assist my wife."

because it sounds like a need you will have while employed. You want an understanding you will have this flexibility before agreeing (or learn now you will not have it and can make a more informed choice). You can include the reason if you want, but I think it's good professional practice to disclose any needs/expectations before accepting an offer.

Further, most employers understand people have obligations outside of their place of work. In fact, some even provide benefits to help with these obligations. If the offer letter does not state the benefits, you can ask for clarification (i.e., 'can I work from home?' 'is there any parental leave?' 'is there health insurance?', etc.)

Right after getting an offer is the time to negotiate, and I would use it to make sure you can assist your family without repercussions at work. Plus, if your PI doesn't understand this reasonable request, it helps to know now rather than shortly after starting a new contract. (Congrats on the offer, by the way).

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  • and congrats on the baby to be!
    – Gauss
    Jun 25, 2021 at 18:32

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