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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 feasible
  • 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 down.

 

Further information on this subject can be found on the HSE website

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