Do you know your maternity rights at work?
A new study has found that women who stand for long periods of time are more likely to have babies with smaller heads. The survey studied the activities of women during working hours.
With activities possibly becoming damaging to baby, we’ve had a look at what your rights are as an expectant mother in the workplace.
When you tell your employer that you are pregnant your employer should review their risk assessment for your specific work and identify any changes that are necessary to protect you and your unborn baby’s health. Your employer should involve you in the process and continue to review the assessment as your pregnancy progresses to see if any adjustments are necessary.
These risks might be caused by:
- lifting or carrying heavy loads
- standing or sitting for long periods
- exposure to toxic substances
- long working hours
Your employer must then either remove the risk or remove you from being exposed to it (for example, by offering you suitable alternative work). If neither of these is possible, your employer should suspend you from work on full pay.
What facilities does my employer need to provide for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers?
Your employer is legally required to provide somewhere for pregnant and breastfeeding employees to rest. Where necessary, this should include somewhere for them to lie down.
It is not suitable for new mothers to use toilets for expressing milk. Your employer may provide a private, healthy and safe environment for employees to express and store milk, although there is no legal requirement for them to do so.
Am I entitled to more frequent rest breaks if I am pregnant?
Yes. You should agree the necessary timing and frequency of rest breaks with your employer.
If you think you are at risk
If you think you are at risk, but your employer doesn’t agree, you should first talk to your health and safety representative or a trade union official. You can also go directly to your employer to explain your concerns. If your employer still refuses to take action, you should talk to your doctor or call the Health and Safety Executive helpline on 0845 345 0055 (8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday).
Photography: Jerry Bunkers @Flickr