Looking after pregnant employees | Acas (2024)

Supporting mothers and pregnant women helps boost morale, productivity, staff recruitment and retention. It is a legal requirement but also essential to ensuring that employees can manage their work with their pregnancy, and to maintaining good relationships.

I myself have been pregnant and taken maternity leave, so with this personal experience I have implemented a number of policies in the workplace to support any pregnant members of my team in the future. For example, my policy allows flexible working where possible, as well as making sure the working environment is adaptive to the needs of my employees.

It is advisable to have a policy in place, to ensure the employee as well as their manager or business owner align in their expectations of the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth. FSB members can download a DIY maternity policy from theFSB legal hub.

Antenatal care

During their pregnancy, all employees are entitled to paid time off work to attend antenatal appointments on the advice of their doctor, midwife or health visitor. Except for their first appointment, employers can ask for a medical certificate and an appointment card as evidence of the appointments.

Risk assessments

Employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment for their employees. They should use risk assessments to manage risks to the health and safety of employees.

A general workplace risk assessment should cover all employees, and be regularly reviewed, particularly after significant changes to the workplace.

Once made aware that an employee is pregnant, an employer must review their existing workplace risk assessment for any known risks that could affect the employee.

Employers should also discuss with the employee any conditions or circ*mstances surrounding the pregnancy that will affect their work and take account of any medical recommendations provided by their GP or midwife.

The Health and Safety Executive has extensive advice on looking after the health and safety of new and expectant mothers.

Maternity leave and pay

All pregnant employees are entitled to statutory maternity leave and most, depending on length of service and pay, are entitled to statutory maternity pay. Employers can offer contractual maternity pay at their discretion.

The government has official advice for employers on statutory maternity pay and statutory maternity leave, as well as acalculator for employers both for leave and pay.

Parents can opt instead to use shared parental leave and shared parental pay. Guidance and calculations are different where an employee is using shared parental pay and shared parental leave. You can find advice on shared parental pay and leave on GOV.UK.

All employers can normally claim back 92% of statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay, and those who qualify for Small Employers' Relief can reclaim 103%. You can find advice on how to reclaimstatutory pay on GOV.UK.

Acas also has advice on parental leave and pay, both for employers and their employees.

Additional paid leave for neonatal care

The government has recently supported a bill which will allow parents to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in addition to other parental leave entitlements. Most small businesses want to create a supportive working environment for their staff, so they will want to act with compassion and support.

FSB agrees that parents of babies who need to spend time in neonatal care should have access to additional pay and leave after 2 weeks.Small Employers' Relief should also apply to employers if they pay their employee's statutory neonatal pay.

The right to return

Following maternity leave, an employee's right to return to work to the same job depends on the amount of leave they have taken.

If they have taken up to 26 weeks, they are entitled to return to the same job, on the same conditions. If they have taken more than 26 weeks, they have the right to return to the same job, unless the employer has a reasonable reason to no longer be able to offer that job.

If this is the case, they must be offered alternative employment on the same terms including pay, terms and conditions, location and seniority.

Paternity leave and pay

Employers should equally provide support to fathers who wish to take leave to look after their child. By law, fathers can take either 1 or 2 consecutive weeks of paternity leave, as long as they fulfil the government's eligibility criteria.

Whilst there is Maternity Allowance available to some self-employed mothers in lieu of statutory maternity pay, there is no statutory paternity pay alternative for self-employed fathers.

You can find more advice on paternity leave and pay from Acas.

Further support

FSB plays an important role in supporting smaller employers to comply with their employment law obligations.

Find out about FSB Employment Protection

Looking after pregnant employees | Acas (2024)


Looking after pregnant employees | Acas? ›

During their pregnancy, all employees are entitled to paid time off work to attend antenatal appointments on the advice of their doctor, midwife or health visitor. Except for their first appointment, employers can ask for a medical certificate and an appointment card as evidence of the appointments.

What rights does a pregnant woman have at work? ›

Workers now have a right to accommodations for a wide range of needs “related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” That includes common needs related to pregnancy and recovery from childbirth. Related medical condition includes lactation, mastitis, menstruation, and more.

How many hours should a pregnant woman work? ›

Therefore, pregnant women can work 40 hours a week if the working conditions are safe for them to do so. If a pregnant employee begins to work over 40 hours a week and is subject to a lot of stress, it could be harmful to their health and the health of their unborn child.

How do you deal with a pregnant staff? ›

Throughout her pregnancy, you should catch up regularly to discuss: Any new health and safety risks identified by your employee or her doctor. Any changes to her work patterns due to pregnancy. Additional support she may need to fulfil her role.

What is the federal law for pregnancy accommodation? ›

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires a covered entity to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified employee's or applicant's known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, absent undue hardship on the operation of the business of ...

Can my employer reduce my hours when pregnant? ›

If your employer is covered by the PDA or local or state laws that protect pregnant workers from discrimination, it cannot fire you or discriminate against you in any other way, like cutting your hours, because you are pregnant.

What does OSHA say about pregnancy? ›

Federal law requires that workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions be treated the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.

At what month should a pregnant woman stop working? ›

A woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy should be allowed to and encouraged to continue working for as long as she chooses. This actually means you can work without interruption until the onset of labor.

How many weeks before your due date should you stop working? ›

A woman who is having a normal, healthy pregnancy can work right up until the start of labour. However, you can choose to stop working whenever suits you. Some women choose to stop several weeks before their due date but others will be at work even in early labour.

Can you call in sick when pregnant? ›

If you're off sick because of your pregnancy

Your doctor can tell you if you're ill because of your pregnancy. You can't be dismissed for having time off sick because of your pregnancy as you're protected against discrimination while you're pregnant.

Can you discipline a pregnant employee? ›

What should I do? If you are on family-related leave, your employer may take disciplinary action against you as long as they are not taking action because you are pregnant or on family-related leave. The disciplinary action must be for a fair reason.

Is it unfairly treated at work while pregnant? ›

If someone treats you unfairly because you're pregnant, breastfeeding or because you've recently given birth, you may have been discriminated against. The Equality Act 2010 calls this pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

When to tell HR you are pregnant? ›

Under normal circ*mstances, one popular recommendation is to notify your employer at the end of the first trimester (12-13 weeks). Around this time, some women begin to show, and the risk of miscarriage is lower.

Can I get fired for missing work due to pregnancy? ›

Title VII and the PDA prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy with respect to all aspects of employment, including pay, job assignments, hiring, firing, promotions, training, and fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance).

What is an example of pregnancy discrimination? ›

refusing to hire, failing to promote, demoting, or firing pregnant workers after learning they are pregnant; discharging workers who take medical leave for pregnancy-related conditions (such as a miscarriage);

Is remote work a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy? ›

The federal government's anti-discrimination agency is advising agencies that telework, or remote work, can be legally granted to workers who seek a workplace accommodation while pregnant or recovering from childbirth, whether or not they're already covered by a hybrid work policy.

How many hours should a pregnant woman work on her feet? ›

It is recommended that pregnant women stand for no more than four or five hours while taking frequent breaks throughout the workday. Since pregnant women's feet are prone to swelling, it is more important to listen to your body and give your feet the rest that they need.

What is an example of pregnancy discrimination at work? ›

refusing to hire, failing to promote, demoting, or firing pregnant workers after learning they are pregnant; discharging workers who take medical leave for pregnancy-related conditions (such as a miscarriage);

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