Pregnancy and work – Know your rights
For me, this is an important subject that needs to be talked about. Even today, in the modern world, pregnant working women are discriminated against (even if not directly).
I wanted to put together a quick post, to tell you what you’re entitled to, what measures should be put in place to make sure you’re safe at work and what to do if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly in your place of work.
What you are entitled to…
To be eligible for the following, you must first tell your employer that you are indeed pregnant. Otherwise, they will be questioning your time off work, especially if you’re like me and suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum.
While you are pregnant, you are legally allowed to attend your antenatal appointments with full pay. These include midwife appointments, health visitor, routine scans, consultant appointments and additional tests such as gestational diabetes. You are also legally allowed to attend parenting classes recommended by your GP or midwife.
It’s a good idea to ask your employers permission, they can’t say no, and if they do keep a record for later as they could be committing discrimination.
You are entitled to sick pay if you become ill during your pregnancy. I was off work for 8 weeks with hyperemesis and received sick pay for this time.
Health and safety…
As an employer of a pregnant person, a thorough risk assessment must be completed to outline any hazards and to put measures in place to ensure your safety.
They have to tell you about any risks associated with
- long hours of work
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time without regular breaks
- Any manual handling or lifting
- Exposure to harmful chemicals and substances
If there are any highlighted risks then your employer must do one of the following
- Change your working conditions so that the risk no longer exists.
- Change the type of work you are doing. For example allowing you a desk job instead of a job that requires lots of lifting or exposure to harmful chemicals. They must not change your rate of pay in doing this.
- Let you stay at home without affecting your pay. If necessary and if there is no other way around giving you a safer job to do they have to let you go home until the risks are removed.
If your employer does not conduct a risk assessment, then contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau for help with what to do next.
Contract of work…
It’s always a good idea to check your contract of work for anything that mentions maternity rights. And have a good look through the employee hand book too, there will always be a section on maternity/paternity rights.
As an expecting mother you are entitled to 12 months maternity leave. You don’t have to take it, but you must take 2 weeks after childbirth before returning to work.
You will most likely be entitled to maternity pay, but in some circumstances you may not be entitled to pay. Whatever happens, you will not get left in the dark. See this website for more information about maternity pay.
Don’t stand for any sort of rubbish from anyone at work. Having a child should be an exciting, happy and relaxing time. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for this miracle of life. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about attending appointments that you are legally entitled to, stand up for yourself but also be reasonable.
It may be a good idea to have a 3rd pair of ears during conversations regarding work, and if you feel you have been treated unfairly, like I said earlier. Note the time, date and a brief note of what was said.
You and your baby are the most important things at the moment, focus on keeping your mind clear, your life stress free and relax as much as possible. Take in this amazing experience as it unfolds. The time will fly and before you know it, your precious bundle of joy will be here.
Don’t take any shit from anyone!