New and expectant mothers
Employers have a responsibility towards any of
their employees who become pregnant or who are a new mother. Any
risk assessment carried out for a workplace should consider the
risks to any women of childbearing age who could become pregnant,
as well as any risks to new or expectant mothers.
Employers also often chose to carry out a
further specific risk assessment for new and expectant mothers,
although this is not a legal requirement.
Action to be taken by Employers
As soon as they are notified in writing by an
employee that she is pregnant, has given birth in the last six
months or is breastfeeding, an employer must take into account the
risks identified in their assessment and take action to remove,
reduce or control these risks.
Where the risk to the new or expectant mother
cannot be removed then employers must:
- Temporarily adjust the employees working
conditions and/or hours of work, or if that is not possible
- Offer the employee suitable alternative work
(at the same rate of pay) if available, or if that is not
- Suspend the employee from work on paid leave
for as long as necessary to protect her health and safety and that
of her child.
When a new or expectant mother works nights
and provides a medical certificate from her GP or midwife which
states that working night shifts will affect her health, then her
employer must suspend her from work on full pay for as long as
necessary. However the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that where
appropriate, suitable alternative work should be offered on the
same terms and conditions before a suspension is considered.
Welfare of workers
Employers are required to provide suitable
rest facilities for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
These should be suitably located, and where necessary should
provide facilities for the new or expectant mothers to lie
Further information on this subject can be
found on the HSE website