Health and Safety and Pregnancy

Health and Safety / 21 January 2021
Health and Safety and Pregnancy

What can an employer do when they become concerned about the health, safety or wellbeing of an expectant mother in the workplace?

Key considerations

Communication and consultation are key.  Maintaining a productive work relationship is crucial to ensuring an expectant mother feels they are being treated fairly.

The potential risks to a pregnant employee could include movements and postures, manual handling, shocks and vibrations, noise, radiation, infectious diseases, hazardous substances, mental and physical fatigue, temperature, working alone, violence and more.  Each pregnancy is unique and must be treated on an individual basis.

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 contains two mechanisms employers can use where they have genuine concerns about the health and safety of an expectant mother. These include:

  • nominating a date for parental leave to start early; or
  • temporarily transferring her to alternative duties.

Before considering these options employers should:

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current workplace, tasks and individual factors.
  • Work through the risk assessment process with the employee or conduct a new assessment if not already in place.
  • Be open, honest and transparent around the purpose of any monitoring or enquires.
  • Remind the employee to report any general discomfort, incident or accidents.
  • Ask the employee to keep the employer up to date with any matters that might create further risk as the pregnancy progresses.
  • Involve medical experts and seek advice as needed.

Message for Employers

The interplay between health and safety, employment and human rights can make this area difficult to manage.  Before altering duties or directing early leave arrangements, we recommend seeking legal advice.  Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions.

Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law, health and safety and immigration topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.


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