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Rights while you’re pregnant at work

  • While you are pregnant, you have legal rights. These rights can protect your from unfair treatment, make sure that you work is safe, and allow you to take time off for antenatal appointments.Maternity leave is a time when you are not able to work.

    Maternity leave and maternity pay

    Employees can take maternity leaves, which allows them to be off work for up to one year while having a baby. Check to see if you are eligible.

    Maternity pay is not the same for everyone.

    You and your partner may also be entitled to time off or payment.

    Pregnancy appointments

    You can get paid time off for antenatal visits your doctor, nurse, or midwife recommends while you are pregnant. This could include relaxation or parenting classes, as well as medical appointments.

    If you are entitled to maternity leaves, you have the right to this time off. It doesn’t matter how many hours or how long you have worked for your employer.

    If you are an agency worker, you can take this time off and have been with the same hirer at least 12 consecutive weeks.

    It would be helpful if you received your regular pay for going to appointments. Your employer cannot make you work more hours to make up the time you are absent.

    You and your partner may be able to share time for one or two of your appointments.

    Get your employer’s permission.

    Check with your employer to see if you are allowed to attend each of your appointments. You might also need to show your appointment card.

    Your employer may refuse to allow you to attend an appointment in rare instances, but they must be reasonable. They won’t be able to challenge any medical advice that you have received from a doctor, nurse, or midwife.

    You might be able to request that you book appointments after hours, if possible. They should understand that you may not be able to choose when appointments are made.

    If you don’t get paid time off

    If you work at night

    If your agency is

    Pregnancy pay

    If you become sick while pregnant, you are entitled to sick pay. Sick pay can affect your maternity pay. Learn more about how to get sick pay while pregnant.

    Safety and health

    After you have informed your employer in writing that your pregnancy is confirmed, they must inspect your job to ensure there are no safety or health risks to your baby. This is known as a “risk assessment”. You will need to ask them about any information they have, such as:

    • long working hours
    • Standing or sitting for long periods of time without taking a break
    • Heavy lifting or carrying
    • Exposure to toxic substances

    Your employer should discuss your pregnancy with you and your needs when checking for potential risks. Your employer should hear from you about any medical advice received, as well as any concerns you may have.

    If your work isn’t safe

    Your employer should take 3 steps to eliminate any risk.

    All of these steps are applicable whether you’re employed or working for an agency. If you work regular hours and are paid by your employer, then you’re likely an employee.

    You only have the right to the first step if you are not an employee or agency worker (for instance, if your status is casual or you are on a zero-hours contract).

    If you are unsure about your rights, contact Citizens Advice.

    1. Change your conditions

    To eliminate any risk, your employer should make changes to your work environment. They could change your working hours, get you a better chair, or allow you to work from home. They won’t accept any changes that you don’t want.

    1. Give you different work.

    Your employer should not be able to change your circumstances. They should offer you a different job while you are pregnant. You could, for example, take on a job in an office rather than doing heavy lifting.

    A new job doesn’t have to pay less than the regular job, or offer worse benefits.

    You must be able to do the work. Tell your employer if you aren’t able.

    Agency workers might not be able give you different work if they aren’t able. If this happens, inform your agency. The agency must then either:

    • find you different work
    • will pay you for any work that you would have done if you weren’t pregnant. This will typically be for the remainder of your assignment.
    1. Stay at home.

    Your employer cannot give you a different job, so you can stay home until they remove the risk. They must continue to pay you full wages.

    Because of work-related risk, your employer cannot change any other aspects of your job. They cannot, for example, reduce your salary or inform you of a promotion.

    If your employer doesn’t make sure you’re safe

    If your employer refuses to give you a risk assessment, or if they don’t follow the steps to eliminate any risks, you can take legal action. Begin by speaking to your employer. Show your doctor and midwife any documentation indicating what conditions are safe.

    If your employer did not conduct a risk assessment, you could have been discriminated against because of it. If you believe your employer discriminated against your, contact Citizens Advice.

    Review your contract to see if you have additional maternity rights.

    To see if there are any rights that go beyond what is required by law, check your employee handbook or contract. Some employers offer additional healthcare for pregnant women.

    No matter what contract you have, your employer cannot take away your maternity rights. You can contact Citizens Advice to learn more about what you can do if your contract attempts to remove any of your maternity rights.

    If you are pregnant and you get treated badly

    You can take the following steps if you are:

    • You don’t have all your maternity rights
    • You’re being treated badly because you asked for any of the maternity rights
    • You’re being treated badly because of your maternity leave

    If you have been treated unfairly because you are pregnant or on maternity leaves, you could be subject to maternity discrimination. If you feel your employer discriminated against your, contact Citizens Advice.

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