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Being Pregnant at Work

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 27 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Pregnancy Work Discrimination Health And

When you find out you are pregnant, you will no doubt be very busy organising everything for the arrival of your baby, from painting a nursery to buying baby clothes. However it is often easy to forget that you need to make preparations for your new baby at work too.

If you are working when you fall pregnant, you need to discuss your pregnancy with your employer so that you can both make necessary arrangements for any time you wish to take off, and to make any necessary adaptations to your work whilst you are pregnant.

Four Key Rights

Pregnant employees have four key rights:
  • Paid time off for ante-natal care
  • Maternity leave of at least 26 weeks, plus an optional additional 26 weeks, totalling a one year absence (dependent on how long you have worked for your current employer)
  • Maternity pay benefits - usually Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance
  • Protection against Unfair Dismissal

Note: You are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave no matter how long you have worked for your current employer. However if you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the beginning of the week that your baby is due, you will also be entitled to take up to a further 26 weeks additional maternity leave if you wish to do so.

You may start your Maternity Leave any time from 11 weeks before your due date. You will still accrue holiday entitlement during this time which, if you wish, you may add to the beginning or end of your maternity leave.

Telling Your Employer

You must tell your employer you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week in which your baby's due (once you are approximately 5 months pregnant). However the sooner you tell them, the sooner you are able to make appropriate arrangements. Many women also prefer to tell their employer before 5 months, as it is often visibly obvious that they are pregnant before this date.

You should tell your employer when you want to start your Maternity Leave and receive Statutory Maternity Pay. You also need to tell your employer, as if there are any health problems or you need to take time off work for appointments, you cannot take any paid time off for ante-natal appointments before you have told them about your pregnancy. If you do take maternity leave, your employer will assume you are taking off the full amount you're entitled to, so if you intend coming back sooner, you need to give your employer at least 28 days' notice of your return.

Time Off for Ante-Natal Care

No matter how long you have worked in your current job, you are entitled to a reasonable amount of paid time off for ante-natal care. This must be at your normal rate of pay, and it is unlawful for an employer to refuse this right.

Hopefully you will have a healthy pregnancy. However even if there are no complications with your pregnancy, you will still need to attend a number of ante-natal appointments. These are usually staged as follows:

  1. First contact with healthcare professional
  2. 16 week appointment
  3. 18-20 week scan
  4. 28 week appointment
  5. 34 week appointment
  6. 36 weeks appointment
  7. 41 weeks appointment (if baby late)

As well as medical examinations, ante-natal care can include relaxation classes, for example, if recommended by your doctor. Where possible, however, you should try to schedule any appointments outside working hours or at the beginning or end of the day so you can work most of your usual hours.

Health and Safety Issues

Your employer must carry out a Risk Assessment of your job to identify any possible risks to you and your unborn child. These risks may be caused by:
  • Lifting or carrying heavy loads
  • Standing or sitting for long periods
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Long working hours

Your employer is then obliged to take reasonable steps to either remove the risk, or remove you from the risk (for example, by offering you suitable alternative work). If neither of these options are possible, your employer should suspend you from work on full pay.

If you think that you are at risk and your employer doesn't agree, you should first talk to your health and safety representative or a trade union official. Don't take risks with your baby's health; if you are worried, speak to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to write a letter to your employer to confirm what is a risk to you and your baby's health. If your employer still refuses to take action despite your concerns, you should inform the Health and Safety Executive.

Pregnancy Related Illness

If you have to take time off work due to a pregnancy related illness in the four weeks before your baby is due, your maternity leave will begin automatically, no matter what the previous agreement was with your employer.

Compulsory Maternity Leave

Even if you've decided not to take Statutory Maternity Leave, you must take off two weeks as soon as your baby is born, or four weeks if you work in a factory. This is not negotiable, and is a legal requirement under The Maternity (Compulsory Leave) Regulations1994.

Note: This compulsory maternity leave also takes effect if a child is still-born any time after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

If an employer allows or makes you work before two weeks have passed after the birth of your child (or four weeks in the case of factory workers), they will be in breach of the 1994 Regulations, and can be fined up to £500 per offence.

Discrimination and Pregnancy

It is unlawful Gender Discrimination for employers to treat pregnant women less favourably because they're pregnant or if they wish to take maternity leave. Such treatment includes:
  • Trying to reduce your hours without your permission
  • Suddenly giving you poor staff reports
  • Knowingly giving you unsuitable work
  • Making you redundant because you are pregnant
  • Treating days off sick because you are pregnant as a disciplinary issue
If your employer changes the terms and conditions of your employment whilst you're pregnant, without your express permission, they are in breach of contract. If your job ceases to exist whilst you are away on maternity leave, you must be offered suitable alternative employment. Alternative employment must:

  • Offer the same pay as your previous role
  • Have at least as favourable working days and hours
  • Have at least as favourable job prospects
  • Be in a suitable alternative location (i.e. not require you to move house if you do not wish to do so)
Some new parents wish to return to work on less hours than they previously worked. If you wish to make changes to your employment, either before or after Maternity or Paternity Leave, speak to your employer. They should consider any reasonable request (e.g. "Can I work 8:30-4:30?" or "Can I work 9-4 without a lunch break away from my desk?")

What to do if You Have Problems and Where to Seek Help

If you feel you are being denied your rights, first speak to your employer. If you have an employee representative - a trade union official for example, they may be able to help set out your complaint.If you are unable to reach an agreement with your employer, you may need to make a complaint using your employer's internal grievance procedure. If you're still unhappy, you may wish to take your case to an Employment Tribunal.

Your local Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Arbitration and Conciliation Service (ACAS) both offer free, impartial advice on this. You may also be able to get assistance with legal costs; speak to your local solicitor's office about what fee arrangements are available to you.

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Hi there ! Ive been working at my job for two years now and i am a bartender/waitress i told my employer dec 16th about my pregnancy and my shifts have been cut i was working monday to friday but now they are only giving me three days a week. I told him i need my shifts cause i just bought a place with my boyfriend as well and i rely on my wage. After i spoke to him in his office and sent another message to him he has done nothing and has ignored me !! And has also hired another girl !! I am 18 weeks and by no means unable to work. What can i do ?
joe - 27-Jan-17 @ 6:55 AM
Hi i worked in x bar in my town one night a fight broke out and i was very forcefully pushed onto the bar whilst i was at work . I was pushed that hard it ruptured my waters and gave me and infection straight away which lead to me going into labour at 25 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy it happens so quickly i was pushed at around 3 am and gave birth to our baby girl at 11.53 later that morning she weighed 1 lb 9 oz that was it thank fully after everything we have been through she has fought through vertually everything a premature baby can cat that would normally kill most premature baby's and she has survived . She is 14momths old now and still we are constantly in and out of hospital but slowly and surly things touch wood are getting better anyway a friend has brought it to my attention today that we should have a mega strongcase but we haven't a clue where to go from here please help :( my phone number is 07490295572 we look forward to speaking to you asap :)
princess mai - 21-Jan-17 @ 2:25 AM
Hi I am 12 weeks pregnant and I work at a nursing home my job title is activities aide and I have had 4 c sections this will be my 5th I told my supervisor I was having pain when I push the residents in there chairs she said OK and was acting like she was going to do everything so that I want have to push them well today she got upset with me when I told her I needed her help so I went toadministration and told her she said we only accommodate those who has been injured at the job and you might want to see how long you want to work because that's your job and for me to think about early maternity leave which I don't get paid for
Tori - 21-Jan-17 @ 12:15 AM
I'm 29 weeks pregnant and I work at a bingo hall and I have a sick note of the doctor saying I can't do the kitchen anymore but I got told I had to do a shift in there but I rang in sick for it as I couldn't do it I got told I need another sick note for that day so I just want to know if I have give a note to work to take me out of the kitchen is it against health and safety to put me in there ?
Nic - 13-Jan-17 @ 11:12 PM
Hi my daughter is 17 weeks pregnant, and she works in a truck stop cafe, in the kitchen cooking food and front of house serving it, she is suffering really bad with morning sickness but she still goes into work, she was sick at work on Monday after being there for a couple of hours ( pregnancy related) she was fine afterwardsbut they sent her home, and said she could not return for 2 days as she was sick, but then told her to take the Thursday and come back in on Monday...it has really upset her as she feels fine in her self...my question is...can they send her home through her being sick through pregnancy...she's also under the understanding that she won't be paid for her being off?...would love some help or feedback thanks
Bubblygirl - 13-Jan-17 @ 7:16 PM
Hi I am currently 25weeks pregnant have had only one risk assessment done on me when I was 8-9 weeks pregnant, I have just received my shifts for next week and they have me working 7 days in a row with one shift in the middle which is 17.00 till 01.00 am really struggling on what to do?? Thank you in advance
Josie - 10-Jan-17 @ 10:30 PM
safia - Your Question:
Hy.i been working for my company since 2010 now im 32 weeks pregnant.since im pregnant I been having trouble with low iron and high blood pressure which cause me to get dizzy and nausea at all time.i work in retail so when there is no customers I like to sit down due to my back and leg pain and dizziness.now my boss passed away 2 years ago and since that the son took over the business who is a bully.since I told them im pregnant I feel like hes trying to push me to the point to leave which is I cant afford to do.for example when is no customers in the shop I prefer to sit down it helps with my back and leg pain.and occasionaly with the dizziness I get.now im taking iron tablets which cause me heartburn more then I already have and dizziness.but when he sees me sit down he straight away come and give me some work to clean and dust.unfortunatly im not able to stand long due to my problems like before pregnancy.and he keep treatens me to sack me or cut my wages.i got only 4 weeks till my smp starts but im dreading to come in to work every day why he gona shout and scream for now.he make me cry alot

Our Response:
Show your employer the above article. It sets out clearly what your employer must do if you are pregnant and gives advice on what you can do if you are discriminated against or put at risk during your pregnancy.
SafeWorkers - 4-Jan-17 @ 11:50 AM
Hy ...i been working for my company since 2010 now im 32 weeks pregnant ...since im pregnant i been having trouble with low iron and high blood pressure which cause me to get dizzy and nausea at all time....i work in retail so when there is no customers i like to sit down due to my back and leg pain and dizziness...now my boss passed away 2 years ago and since that the son took over the business who is a bully..since i told them im pregnant i feel like hes trying to push me to the point to leave which is i cant afford to do...for example when is no customers in the shop i prefer to sit down it helps with my back and leg pain....and occasionaly with the dizziness i get...now im taking iron tablets which cause me heartburn more then i already have and dizziness....but when he sees me sit down he straight away come and give me some work to clean and dust.....unfortunatly im not able to stand long due to my problems like before pregnancy...and he keep treatens me to sack me or cut my wages....i got only 4weeks till my smp starts but im dreading tocome in to work every day why he gona shout and scream for now...he make me cry alot
safia - 3-Jan-17 @ 10:18 AM
Jb - Your Question:
I am currently 12 weeks pregnant and I work on nightshift in a care home 12 hour shifts. I am repeatedly put upstairs on my own.on weekends because a husband and wife are on so they work together and say that because I am pregnant upstairs is easier (this is the floor with all are dementia residents) most can become very aggressive. I have recently been put on nightshift with another lady that is pregnant and 1 more member of staff we can not use hoist or lift people but have been told we will just have to get on with it because it can't be avoided due to not enough staff. What can I do?

Our Response:
Please read from the section "Health and Safety Issues" onwards in the above article for your answer. If you have further questions not answer there, do feel free to post again.
SafeWorkers - 14-Dec-16 @ 2:34 PM
I am currently 12 weeks pregnant and I work on nightshift in a care home 12 hour shifts. I am repeatedly put upstairs on my own.on weekends because a husband and wife are on so they work together and say that because i am pregnant upstairs is easier (this is the floor with all are dementia residents) most can become very aggressive. I have recently been put on nightshift with another lady that is pregnant and 1 more member of staff we can not use hoist or lift people but have been told we will just have to get on with it because it can't be avoided due to not enough staff. What can i do?
Jb - 13-Dec-16 @ 10:18 PM
Hi, I work 36+ Hours a weekin a very heavy nursing home. One day a week is a 12hr shift. Often than not there is 5 carers to 45 residents. I'm half way through my 24 weeks of pregnancy and suffer from sciatic back pain on and off. when I do my 12hr shift by around 2pm my back is killing me and I'm scared I will get sciatica again. I spoke to my manager to see if I can loose 6 hours and not do the long day. They said I have no holiday entitlement left and will have to change my work hours If I decide to do that. But if I do that I will get less maternity pay.
Jenni - 8-Dec-16 @ 2:53 PM
Hi, I work I. A children's home and do 24 hour shifts and sleep ins...I am really struggling with tiredness and working 8 in the morning till 11 at night. We are then meant to go to bed but times I am not getting to bed till 1 in the morning.. and having to get up 2.30 in the morning if kids are kicking off etc. I'm expected to then get up at 7 in the morning do a hour on shift and then go home. Times I am doing a 17-19 hour day with 4-5 hours sleep. It's affecting my emotional wellbeing.. I want to reduce my hours and not work evenings.. but as I get paid per 24 hour shift will this affect my pay? I do only do these 2 -3 days a week but it's the long hours/no sleep and stressful environment that is getting me down. I am about 6-7 weeks pregnant
Kay - 26-Nov-16 @ 8:05 PM
nightcarer - Your Question:
Ive been off sick after a bleed and pelvic pain im currently 32 weeks pregnant and just found out that theyve sacked me as accordingly I havent gave them the right information even though they have my sick notes and maternity leave form they said theyve been sending letters to me but I havent got any they have my new adress theyve been trying to force me out from the start I was doing 12hr night shifts I was one of two carers working with 20 demenia residents getting attacked alot doctors told me was for the best to go on sick can my company legally sack me

Our Response:
This could be a case of discrimination as you're pregnant. You may have a case to take this to a tribunal but you will need to contact ACAS first.
SafeWorkers - 9-Nov-16 @ 2:36 PM
Vikki - Your Question:
Hi, I started working for a company at 20 weeks pregnant. I am now 25 weeks pregnant im on my feet all day from 5-7hours each shift. I am only aloud one 15min break all day and that is to get my dinner. Is this aloud to happen? The working conditions arn't great there is very little heating throughout the building, and it gets really cold. im rushed off my feet all day and im really starting to feel a lot more tierd as the weeks go by. Is there anything I can do about this as my empoloyer wont change how they run things.ThanksMaternity starts in 4 weeks but

Our Response:
Please read the advice in the above article from the section entitled "Health and Safety Issues" onwards for answer to your question.
SafeWorkers - 9-Nov-16 @ 2:17 PM
Ive been off sick after a bleed and pelvic pain im currently 32 weeks pregnant and just found out that theyve sacked me as accordingly i havent gave them the right information even though they have my sick notes and maternity leave form they said theyve been sending letters to me but i havent got any they have my new adress theyve been trying to force me out from the start i was doing 12hr night shifts i was one of two carers working with 20 demenia residents getting attacked alot doctors told me was for the best to go on sick can my company legally sack me
nightcarer - 8-Nov-16 @ 10:46 PM
Hi, i started working for a company at 20 weeks pregnant. I am now 25 weeks pregnant im on my feet all day from 5-7hours each shift. I am only aloud one 15min break all day and that is to get my dinner. Is this aloud to happen? The working conditions arn't great there is very little heating throughout the building, and it gets really cold. im rushed off my feet all day and im really starting to feel a lot more tierd as the weeks go by. Is there anything i can do about this as my empoloyer wont change how they run things. Thanks Maternity starts in 4 weeks but
Vikki - 8-Nov-16 @ 8:16 PM
Evie - Your Question:
I have worked at a brain injury unit for 3 years. I am nearly 34 weeks pregnant and the last 4 weeks I have had to have signed off by the doctor because it is unsuitable for pregnancy (I get hit, threatened, kicked, spat on - to name a few) I kicked up a fuss and said that it isn't safe and I haven't even got a risk assessment covering me. The manager tried to put one together but said the place was safe, no risk of harm, no risk of slip trips and falls (I have slipped on urine twice and tripped up the stairs carrying a dinner tray) and unstressful (all staff are leaving so low staff relying on agency who are useless, plus it's a brain injury unit with violent people - bound to be stressful) where do I stand on this? Occupational health said I could be given jobs like archiving, activities, progress notes, yet the company are not listening and still expecting me to do the same duties as before and I'm even experiencing bullying where I am fighting for my rights. I am too afraid to go back because I've already had many complications in pregnancy. Please help.

Our Response:
Please see the last two sections of the above article for information about extra help/employment tribunal.
SafeWorkers - 4-Nov-16 @ 11:38 AM
I have worked at a brain injury unit for 3 years. I am nearly 34 weeks pregnant and the last 4 weeks I have had to have signed off by the doctor because it is unsuitable for pregnancy (I get hit, threatened, kicked, spat on - to name a few) I kicked up a fuss and said that it isn't safe and I haven't even got a risk assessment covering me. The manager tried to put one together but said the place was safe, no risk of harm, no risk of slip trips and falls (I have slipped on urine twice and tripped up the stairs carrying a dinner tray) and unstressful (all staff are leaving so low staff relying on agency who are useless, plus it's a brain injury unit with violent people - bound to be stressful) where do I stand on this? Occupational health said I could be given jobs like archiving, activities, progress notes, yet the company are not listening and still expecting me to do the same duties as before and I'm even experiencing bullying where I am fighting for my rights. I am too afraid to go back because I've already had many complications in pregnancy. Please help.
Evie - 3-Nov-16 @ 3:30 PM
Hi - I'm pregnat and i have note from my doctor about especially workplace adaptation.1. Not to stand for more than 1 hour without break. 2. chair should be provided for sitting when able / regular brake. 3. Avoid heavy lifting not to lift loads more than 5 kilo. And is this mean they should give me a chair in my workplace not just only in breake time but all the time?
Susie - 3-Nov-16 @ 6:34 AM
Barney - Your Question:
I'm pregnant and have been given a note by my doctor that says that my employer should consider giving me a rest between shifts (I work split shifts in care) and that I shouldn't work long days. This is because of pregnancy related back pain.My employer says that because it is due to sickness they can reduce my pay, but I think that it's a health and safety issue and that they can't.Who is right?

Our Response:
No we don't think your employer can do this. If your GP says it's pregancy related and changed to your hours must be made then your employer is then obliged to take reasonable steps to either remove the risk, or remove you from the risk (for example, by offering you suitable alternative work). If neither of these options are possible, your employer should suspend you from work on full pay.
SafeWorkers - 2-Nov-16 @ 10:05 AM
FTM4B - Your Question:
Hi I been working with a company for the last 2 years and I'm 29 weeks pregnant with my first. My boss and manager decided that I'm not supposed to be working alone and I'm not aloud to perform half of my job duties. I have already spoke with my OB and they don't have me on any work restrictions besides the basics just don't lift anything too heavy. I have had a decrease in my regular scheduled hours. My manager has also made comments during employee meetings "she won't be able to do to much here before to long." Co workers have also noticed the changes since I told the company about my pregnancy

Our Response:
Your company does have a duty to reduce any risks during your pregnancy but as you will see from the above article your contracted hours cannot be reduced (without pay) for this reason.
SafeWorkers - 1-Nov-16 @ 9:59 AM
I'm pregnant and have been given a note by my doctor that says that my employer should consider giving me a rest between shifts (I work split shifts in care) and that I shouldn't work long days. This is because of pregnancy related back pain. My employer says that because it is due to sickness they can reduce my pay, but I think that it's a health and safety issue and that they can't. Who is right?
Barney - 1-Nov-16 @ 12:47 AM
Hi I been working with a company for the last 2 years and I'm 29 weeks pregnant with my first. My boss and manager decided that I'm not supposed to be working alone and I'm not aloud to perform half of my job duties. I have already spoke with my OB and they don't have me on any work restrictions besides the basics just don't lift anything too heavy. I have had a decrease in my regular scheduled hours . My manager has also made comments during employee meetings "she won't be able to do to much here before to long."Co workers have also noticed the changes since I told the company about my pregnancy
FTM4B - 30-Oct-16 @ 4:24 AM
New mum- Your Question:
Hi I need advice I started work at 28 weeks pregnant and my line manager has been constantly giving me bad reports using poor performance and once made me work past my shift hours and did not finish until 9pm at 38 weeks and at 39 weeks sent an email complaing about time keeping because I was 10min late. After my maternity after just 2 days in the office he complained about my performance and said now you are not pregnant you have no excuse. I am trying to get my evidence together for my union rep. I work for the government which is even worse,do you think I will win the case?

Our Response:
We don't have enough information about this and the nature of the performance issues. You said you had to work past your shift hours once but haven't said by how much. It's not unreasonable toget an email if you're 10 minutes late for work (especially if this happened more than once). Give your union rep all the details - they should be able to tell you whether you have a case or not as they'll have more detailed information to go on.
SafeWorkers - 27-Oct-16 @ 12:28 PM
Hi I need advice I started work at 28 weeks pregnant and my line manager has been constantly giving me bad reports using poor performance and once made me work past my shift hoursand did not finish until 9pm at 38 weeks and at 39 weeks sent an email complaing about time keeping because I was 10min late. After my maternity after just 2 days in the office he complained about my performance and said now you are not pregnant you have no excuse. I am trying to get my evidence together for my union rep. I work for the government which is even worse,do you think I will win the case?
New mum - 25-Oct-16 @ 6:32 PM
Shelzxo3 - Your Question:
Hi I have just found out I am pregnant, currently I am a fire Marshal and a first aider for my company, can I still continue to do this??

Our Response:
Is there any reason why you shouldn't be able to? Check with your doctor or midwife for advice.
SafeWorkers - 25-Oct-16 @ 11:55 AM
Hi I have just found out I am pregnant, currently I am a fire Marshal and a first aider for my company, can I still continue to do this??
Shelzxo3 - 24-Oct-16 @ 9:10 AM
Mimi16 - Your Question:
Hello I am 16 week pregnant with a miscarriage history and working from 11 pm to 5 am Monday to Thursday. Due to my previous miscarriage experience I feel very worried for my baby health and I have asked my manager to work day shift which unfortunately are not available. Just wondering where I stand?Can I refuse to work at night on base of my miscarriage history?

Our Response:
You should seek medical advice on this. If your GP or consultant thinks you are putting yourself at risk by working a night shift they will be able to provide evidence for you to show your employer. The employer shyould then conduct a risk assessment in order to make a final decision. If not other work is available, your employer should continue to pay you - please see the information in the article above.
SafeWorkers - 12-Oct-16 @ 12:50 PM
Hello I am 16 week pregnant with a miscarriage history and working from 11 pm to 5 am Monday to Thursday.Due to my previous miscarriage experience I feel very worried for my baby health and I have asked my manager to work day shift which unfortunately are not available. Just wondering where I stand? Can I refuse to work at night on base of my miscarriage history?
Mimi16 - 11-Oct-16 @ 1:12 PM
Sara - Your Question:
Hi I work in hospitality and I'm 12 weeks pregnant, someone told me that I cant work after 22:00pm at night at least for my company, can you confirm me??Thanks in advance

Our Response:
There are no rules that say you should not work nights whilst pregnant but your employer should carry out a risk assessment to ensure that your health and safety are not compromised.
SafeWorkers - 10-Oct-16 @ 10:06 AM
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