Pregnant In The Workplace
There is a great deal of employment law relating to pregnancy in the workplace to protect both pregnant women and their employers.
It is important to note that the law is on the side of the pregnant woman, although there are some requirements for their own behaviour and conduct.
Rules and RegulationsIf you are pregnant or looking to become pregnant and are working and intend to continue working throughout your pregnancy, you will need to be aware of the laws and regulations that support you. Your workplace is likely to be aware of the rules and regulations, especially if they are a large organisation or one which has had pregnant staff previously.
However, changes in maternity law 2013 mean that both you and your employer need to make sure that your understanding of the circumstances surrounding pregnancy in the workplace is up to date.
A good place to find the latest information on the necessary workplace risk assessment and rights for pregnant women in the workplace is the Direct Gov website. This Government department website is able to give up to date information as well as being able to offer links to a range of helpful other organisations.
Pregnancy Accreditation ProgrammeTommy’s, the baby charity, also offers a great deal of information regarding pregnancy in the workplace and they also provide a highly respected Pregnancy Accreditation Programme to enable employers and employees to work together to create a respectable, safety focused, harmonious environment for pregnant women.
Tommy’s recommend a series of workplace health and safety measures to provide a good working environment for pregnant women. They suggest, which is supported by the government pregnancy at work laws, that employers provide the following –
- A suitable resting place at work for pregnant women.
- Freely given time off for all antenatal classes and appointments – this includes activities such as exercise classes like ‘aqua natal’
- Individually tailored risk assessments
- Advice and support for all line managers, managers and colleagues working with the pregnant woman.
The Employment Law that surrounds pregnancy in the workplace is clear about the potential practical risks and issues faced by women in the workplace. It is quick to point out that employers should bare in mind all women of childbearing age when conducting workplace risk assessments, rather than simply workers they know to be pregnant, stating that this is best practice.
Workplace Health and SafetyWorkplace health and safety for pregnant women includes the working conditions that can affect human fertility, such as chemicals and toxins. All potential harmful issues for pregnant workers, such as long hours, stress, exposure to chemicals and exposure to violence or manual handling need to be assessed.
When the assessment is complete, all hazards must be removed. If this is impossible, the pregnant woman may be suspended with full pay while the issues are resolved.
Pregnant women are advised to inform their employer as soon as they are able to when they know that they are pregnant. The employer may request this in writing and also in certificate form from the doctor. The employer and the employee are encouraged to work together to deal with any issues, with a full and open communication.