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10 health and safety points for pregnant employees

10 health and safety points for pregnant employees

1. Telling a prospective employer

If you are pregnant and have been offered a new job, you do not have to tell the prospective employer that you are pregnant until the end of the 15th week before the baby is due. You might want to tell them sooner so that you can benefit from a risk assessment and the right to attend antenatal appointments.

2. Telling your existing employer

You need to tell your existing employer that you are pregnant by the 15th week before your baby is due. You’ll probably want to tell them sooner so that you can attend antenatal appointments and benefit from a risk assessment.

3. Risk assessments

An individual risk assessment should be carried out by your employer as soon as possible after you inform them you are pregnant. If a risk is identified your employer must eliminate the risk by temporarily adjusting your working conditions. If this is not possible your employer must offer suitable alternative work, at the same rate of pay. If this is not possible your employer must suspend you from work on paid leave for as long as necessary.

4. Working nights

You can still work nights but if your GP or midwife have provided a medical certificate stating you must not continue then your employer must offer you suitable alternative day work. 

5. Sickness absence

If you have sickness absence from work during your pregnancy that is related to your pregnancy, this sickness must be recorded separately and should not be used as a reason for disciplinary action, dismissal or redundancy.

6. Pregnancy-related illness in the last four weeks before EWC

If you become ill with a pregnancy related illness during the last four weeks before your expected week of childbirth, your employer can ask you start your maternity leave.

7. Rest breaks

You are entitled to more frequent rest breaks if you agree the necessary timing and frequency with your employer.

8. Breastfeeding

When you return to work, your employer must provide somewhere for breastfeeding mothers to rest. It’s best if you write to your employer before you return to let them know you are breastfeeding.

9. Problems at work

If you think your employer is putting your safety at risk you should raise your concerns with them informally to begin with. You can seek further advice from a workplace safety rep, occupational health or call us if the matter is not resolved quickly.

10. Agency work

If you are an agency worker, you have the right to health and safety protection from day one. Once you notify the employer that you are pregnant they must take reasonable steps to protect your health and safety.  Read more in Maternity Action's advice about maternity and parental rights for agency workers


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As an RCN member, you can find answers to your questions about work - and more - in our comprehensive advice. You can also find out how to contact the advice team. 

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