As I’ve recently learnt, pregnancy at work opens up a new world of working practice and protection and that’s before you add that pregnant women are classified as being at higher risk of severe illness from Covid.
For many people it is normal to want to keep the news secret during the first trimester, however this can be a difficult period when symptoms can affect productivity. Regularly throwing up, exhaustion and managing doctors’ appointments can draw attention to you and make the situation even harder to hide.
Therefore, once comfortable to do so, it is wise for an employer to be informed about the pregnancy so they can arrange provisions and consider this additional risk to employee and their baby. This may result in changes to work schedules, workspace or even just being a little lenient during this period.
The government no longer advises pregnant employees should work from home, however the risks of close contact with others remain, particularly if clinically extremely vulnerable or not yet fully vaccinated.
Employers must assess the workplace risks for pregnant employees and their unborn children, as well as for breastfeeding mothers who have returned to work. A risk assessment must be completed and this has to include the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. The risk assessment will assess whether the job involves interaction with people and whether social distancing is possible. It is also best practice to consider means of travelling to work.
As a result, employers may need to provide additional personal protective equipment, ensure that social distancing measures are in place, or perhaps reduce shift lengths or times.
If the risks are assessed to be high employers need to make reasonable adjustments, for example allowing remote working from home. If adjustments can’t be made suspension on full pay may be the only route.
Depending on the job, and certainly something I have found in mine, there may be is a lot of sitting involved. Too much work sitting in one spot can cause foot swelling and therefore considering small changes such as leg movements and going for short walks to keep the blood flowing can help. Back pain is another overlooked consideration due to being seated in the same posture for around 8 hours a day.
It is easier to consider pregnancy as a medical condition, just like other health risks and an expecting mother is protected by laws regarding pregnancy discrimination. An employer has no right to dismiss or deny a women promotion based on the issue of childbirth or pregnancy. Pregnant women are normally very capable of continuing their employment and delivering results with support from their employer.
If you have any questions regarding maternity or other protected characteristics please contact us for advice. call us on 01935 411 191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our consultants about any HR related topic. A member of our consultancy team will be available to help you with any HR, Recruitment or Training queries you may have.