- Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 (MHSW)
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
- Employment Rights Act 1996 as amended by the Employment Relations Act 1999
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975
Employers are required to assess risks to all their employees and to do what is reasonably practicable to control those risks. They must include any hazards/risks to new and expectant mothers, when conducting this risk assessment. More information on how to do a risk assessment can be found in HSE's guidance Five Steps to Risk Assessment.
It is important that female employees inform their employers that they are pregnant, have given birth in the previous six months or are breastfeeding. The notification should be given in writing, as early as possible.
When employers receive written notification from an employee that she is pregnant, has given birth within the previous six months or is breastfeeding, they must conduct a specific risk assessment. The assessment must take into account any advice provided by the woman's GP or Midwife on her health.
- Action 1
Temporarily adjust her working conditions and/or hours of work; or if that is not possible
- Action 2
Offer her suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay) if available; or if that is not feasible
- Action 3
Suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as necessary to protect her health and safety and that of her child.
MHSW also states that where a new or expectant mother works nights and provides a medical certificate from her GP or Midwife which says that working nights will affect the health of the woman, then the employer must suspend her from work, on full pay, for as long as necessary. However, the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that where appropriate, suitable alternative work should be offered, on the same terms and conditions, before any suspension from work.
The Workplace Regulations require employers to provide suitable rest facilities for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The facilities should be suitably located (e.g. near to toilets) and where necessary should provide appropriate facilities for the new or expectant mother to lie down.
- suitable and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances; and
- on terms and conditions no less favourable than her normal terms and conditions.
There is no length of service qualification and the Act gives protective rights to a broad range of workers including the self-employed, agency workers, apprentices, and voluntary workers, depending on the nature of their contract.