Health and safety requirements for pregnant employees

When an employee gets pregnant, she is obliged to inform the employer about it and state the date when she wants the maternity leave to begin, so that the employer can organize the work accordingly. On the other hand, the employer has various obligations toward their employees, and one of them is making sure that the working environment is safe, which is not an obligation only towards the pregnant employees.

Every employer is required to perform risk assessment in the company and all the position the employees take, and as a part of usual risk assessment routine, the employer should determine whether a particular workplace is safe for a woman carrying a child. Risk assessment involves determining to which potential hazards the pregnant woman is exposed during her workday, and how often the hazards occur and how long they last. When it comes to the types of hazards, they can be divided into general hazards, pregnancy-specific hazards and breastfeeding-specific hazards.

Pretty pregnant woman at work.There are some cases when the job involves actions or situations that may be risky for a pregnant woman, such as: long standing, sitting or being physically active for long periods, lifting heavy loads, carrying heavy loads, inhaling or otherwise being exposed to toxic matter, long working hours, working on short deadlines and under too much stress. Some of the very risky jobs that can potentially endanger the unborn child or the pregnant women’s health are working with chemicals and various biological agents (such as lab jobs), working under extremely high or low temperatures, exposure to all sorts of radiation, vibration and extremely loud noise etc.
If the employer estimates that there is any risk involved in your working during pregnancy, they should implement changes into your working scheme, if it is possible and reasonable – otherwise you should contact some agency, like for example, to resolve your problem. The risk factor should be removed if possible, and if not, then you should be given another position at work.

If none of it is possible, your employer should suspend you from work during pregnancy, while you are being fully paid, since you are entitled to Health and safety leave.

If you suspect that you may be at risk in the workplace during pregnancy, you must first consult with the employer and ask them to adjust your working position, remove the risk factor or change your working position while you are pregnant. If the employer does not share your concern and does not agree to change your working conditions or position, you should then discuss this matter to your health and safety representative.
Wotopi_18421_1_sIf you are a member of a trade union, you can also consult a trade union official. If you get a pregnancy-related illness during the four weeks before the baby is due, your maternity pay will start automatically. There are cases when a new mother does not want to take full maternity leave, but “compulsory maternity leave” obliges every new mother to take at least two weeks off work after the baby is born, or four weeks if she works in a factory.

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