Protection During Pregnancy
New: (October 2013) A new risk assessment form and guidance has been added to this page. The guidance gives information suitable control measures for range of potential risks to pregnant workers, their unborn child or breastfeeding babay.
Protection During Pregnancy
Certain work activities may put pregnant employees or their unborn child at greater risk of harm. The following advice is for employees who are pregnant or planning to have a child and their managers. It describes the steps that they need to take to ensure the health and safety of a pregnant employee and her unborn child.
What the law requires
The law requires that employers identify hazards in the workplace that could pose a health and safety risk to new or expectant mothers and inform women employees of childbearing age.
Once an employee notifies her manager that she is pregnant suitable controls measures must be put into place to protect her and her unborn child.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also be provided with facilities to rest.
What women employees need to do
Most of you will be working in low hazard environments, but some employees may be carrying out work that puts them at greater risk of harm if pregnant. For example you may be working with substances or agents that are hazardous to an unborn child, or carrying out physically demanding work.
If you are planning to have a child, find out what the risks are early. The risk assessment guidance for new and expectant mothers at work (below) will guide you on the kinds of work activities that can be hazardous to pregnant workers or their unborn or breastfeeding child. You should also refer to the risk assessments for your work activities. If additional precautions are needed to protect pregnant workers, you will need to notify your manager as soon as you know you are pregnant, so that s/he can review the assessment with you and put the precautions into place.
If you are pregnant you should normally discuss your pregnancy in confidence with your line manager. However, if you feel uneasy about this for whatever reason, you can speak to the Human Resources Advisor for your department /section. He/she will discuss the matter with you and facilitate the necessary discussion with your line manager.
If you have specific health concerns relating to your pregnancy, you can contact occupational health (see What to do if there are specific health concerns below), who may advise that you ask your manager to refer you to them.
You will find links to further useful information below.
What managers need to do
In most cases the assessment will be straight forward. A risk assessment template and guidance on possible risks and control measures is provided below.
When the employee notifies you that she is pregnant, go through the assessment and guidance with her and agree what adjustments need to be made to her work and record it on the assessment. The assessment should be reviewed periodically throughout the pregnancy.
You also need to agree with the employee what facilities will be provided should she need to rest whilst at work. At the Colchester campus employees who have children at the Day Nursery can use Day Nursery facilities. There is also a temporary Parent & Baby room located on Level 3 of the Students Union
The assessment may also need to be reviewed if she returns from maternity leave or attends for Keeping in Touch days whilst she is still breastfeeding.
If you need help with the risk assessment, speak to your Human Resources Advisor (Tel 3433; e-mail staffing) or a Health and Safety Adviser (Tel 2944; e-mail safety).
What to do if you have specific health concerns about your pregnancy
Pregnancy is not an illness, however some expectant mothers may have underlying health conditions or may have been advised by their doctor of particular health concerns relating to their pregnancy.
In these circumstances you should either contact Occupational Health directly (Tel 2399; e-mail ohquery), or ask your manager to refer you. You should do this at the earliest opportunity, so that the University can take appropriate steps to safeguard you and your child. You will need to provide the Occupational Health Adviser with a copy of the risk assessment (if available), your job description, and details of any medical advice your doctor has provided (e.g. on either the Med 3 or MAT B1).
You can also contact Occupational Health for advice if you have concerns about health risks associated with your work (for example because you work with radiation or substances that can harm an unborn child).
What to do if the risk cannot be controlled
In a few cases it may be necessary to significantly adjust an employees working conditions or hours, give her alternative work or to suspend her from work on full pay. If you think this may be necessary speak to your Human Resources Advisor (Tel 3433; Email staffing)
What about Students?
The University also has a duty of care to pregnant students. Risk assessments should also identify whether a teaching activity (for example certain laboratory work) would put a pregnant student at risk and the precautions needed for their protection. Student Support have specific guidance on risk assessment for pregnant students and can assist with the risk assessment process. Please refer to their website at:
- Rest facilities: Employees and students who have children at the Day Nursery can use Day Nursery facilities.
Parent and Baby room: There is a temporary Parent & Baby room located on Level 3 of the Students Union, this temporary facility contains a nursing chair with footstool, baby changing tray and a waste disposal bin. This room still provides access and facilities for disabled users and can be accessed via the lift inside the building or via the stairs. A key is required to access the Parent & Baby room, please contact the Information Desk on ext 3148 or patrol (@essex.ac.uk) to request access, alternatively you can arrange collection of the key from the information desk located on Square 4.
- The following Health and Safety Executive website contains general
health and safety information for pregnant workers and their employers:
- Maternity Leave Benefits (Human Resources)
- Maintain a good sitting posture by adjusting your workstation:
DSE and Pregnancy - adjusting your workstation
- HSE advice on working with Ionising Radiation for expectant and breastfeeding mothers
- HSE advice on infection risks to new and expectant mothers
- NHS / Faculty of Medicine / RCP advice on physical and shift work in pregnancy