Generally, pregnant employees have 4 main rights:
1. Paid time off for antenatal appointments
2. Maternity leave
3. Maternity pay
4. Protection from unfair treatment and discrimination due to pregnancy, including dismissal
The term, antenatal care doesn’t just cover medical appointment, it can also include parenting and birthing classes, if they are recommended by the doctor. It’s not just the pregnant mum, their partners, also have the right to attend two classes with them.
If you are pregnant, you employer does not have the right to change the contract terms and conditions of your contract just because you are pregnant. If they are found guilty of doing so, it will be considered a breach of contract and unlawful. It is also important that employers allow pregnant employees time off for their antenatal appointments and also to pay them their normal hourly wages during these appointments. It is worth noting that the pregnancy must be disclosed to the employer no later than 15 weeks from full gestation. This enables the employer to carry out risk assessment and be better prepared.
A maternity leave, or the basic statutory maternity pay begins as soon as the employee is off work for a pregnancy related illness, if it is within the last four weeks of pregnancy.
Compulsory maternity leave
If the employee chooses not to take a statutory maternity leave, they should still be given 2 weeks off after the birth of baby. The rule applies to 4 weeks in case of factory workers.
Telling the employer about the pregnancy
It is vital that you inform the employers of your pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the baby’s due date. If this is not possible, for example, if the employee herself did not know she was pregnant, the employer must be informed as soon as possible.
Employees are also expected to tell the employer when they want to begin their maternity leave or pay. Employees are not allowed to take paid time off their work for antenatal appointments until they have informed the employer of their pregnancy.
Health and safety for pregnant employees
When the employee informs the employer that they are pregnancy, the employer should carry out a thorough risk assessment in order to keep the mother as well as the baby safe. Some of the risks to watch out for are:
1. Heavy lifting or carrying heavy objects one place to other
2. Standing or sitting for long periods of time without frequent breaks
3. Exposure to chemicals and other harmful substances
4. Long working hours
If there are risks involved, the employer should take some reasonable measures to remove them. The employee can be given lesser or changed working hours, a different work profile or total suspension from work if the other two are not a possibility. The suspension in that case must be of full pay if an alternative suitable work is not possible.
If you are pregnant and are afraid that you are at risk, it is suggested that you talk to your employer first. If your employer disagrees you must talk to your HR department, your union representative or take advice from your nearest employment solicitor.
Tribunal Claim Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we can provide free employment law advice on all problems.
Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777