What does an employer need to do to support a pregnant employee

Pregnant employee

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, an employer has a duty to carry out a risk assessment of the work that employees are required to do. Regulation 16 specifically requires employers who employ women of child-bearing age to carry out an assessment if the work could involve a risk to a mother or her unborn child from any ‘processes, working conditions or physical, chemical, or biological agents’.

An employer’s obligation

The employer’s obligations begin as soon as they are advised of the pregnancy. The employer must assess whether there is the potential for the work to harm the mother or baby. If so, then a risk assessment must be carried out as soon as possible.

An open discussion about the assessment and the need to make any adjustments is more likely to lead to a more satisfactory outcome.

Risk Assessments

The employer must advise the employee of any safety measures that they will put in place so that the employee can continue to work safely. If a risk is identified and it cannot be controlled or removed, then the employee’s working conditions or hours must be adjusted. If that is not possible, then the employee should be offered suitable alternative work on the same terms and conditions, including pay, if this is not possible, we recommend you take further advice as on some occasions you may need to suspend the employee on full pay on maternity grounds.

It is important to review and update the employees individual risk assessment as the pregnancy progresses or if there are any changes to their work or the workplace.

A pregnant employee is also entitled to more frequent rest breaks, and this also applies when they first return to work following maternity leave. The timing and frequency of these breaks should be discussed. An employee is also entitled to paid time off work for antenatal appointments.

How you can support your employees

Not only is Health and Safety an important part of looking after your employees, but also you must ensure that they are not discriminated against in any way. You must not subject your employee to any type of unfavourable treatment if they are ill because of their pregnancy or they are taking or intend to take maternity leave. Any unfavourable treatment is treated as direct discrimination and is unlawful.

If you would like further information on how to support your employees, please contact us on 01483 362732 or info@guildford-hr.co.uk