New and expectant mothers at work: Your health and safety (2024)

Informing your employer
Your individual risk assessment
Raising your own safety concerns
Rest and breastfeeding in the workplace
More advice about your rights

This page explains what you and your employer should do to ensure you and your child are healthy and safe.

There is separate advice for employers on their legal duties to protect you at work. This includes a video explaining what they are required to do.

This guidance applies to all pregnant workers and new mothers, including some transgender men, non-binary people and people with variants in sex characteristics, or who are intersex.

Your employer cannot dismiss you or treat you less favourably because you are a pregnant worker or new mother. If they do it may amount to unlawful discrimination.

Informing your employer

You should inform your employer in writing when you:

  • are pregnant
  • have given birth in the last 6 months, or
  • are breastfeeding

Your employer has to adjust your working conditions but only when you have told them.

They can ask you to provide a certificate from your doctor or midwife to confirm you are pregnant. However, they must allow a reasonable amount of time for you to complete all necessary medical tests.

Your employer must take account of medical advice provided by your doctor or midwife. This might mean making adjustments to your working conditions or hours, for example if:

  • you have any pregnancy-related medical conditions
  • your doctor has said you should not work nights

Your individual risk assessment

Your employer should already have assessed any potential risks to women of a childbearing age as part of their general risk assessment process.

They must then carry out a more specific individual risk assessment when you tell them you are pregnant, given birth in the last 6 months or breastfeeding.

Actions your employer should take to protect you

Your employer must reduce, remove or control any risk they identify that could harm you or your child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

They must also let you know about any safety measures they have put in place so you can continue to work safely. They might discuss this with you directly or with your safety representative (if you have one).

You can find information about common risks to pregnant workers or new mothers. These include:

  • standing or sitting for long periods
  • long working hours
  • work-related stress
  • temperature
  • noise

If your employer identifies a significant risk to you or your child

If they identify a risk that could cause harm to you or your child, they must firstly decide if they can control it.

  • If the risk cannot be controlled or removed, they should adjust your working conditions or hours

If that is not possible:

  • you should be offered suitable alternative work on the same terms and conditions, including pay

If that is not possible:

  • your employer must suspend you on full pay for as long as necessary to protect you and your child

Reviewing any changes

Your employer must review and update your individual risk assessment:

  • as your pregnancy progresses, or
  • if there are any changes to your work or your workplace

Regular discussions with your employer (and safety representative if you have one) are important. This is because the risk of harm to you and your unborn child may increase at different stages of your pregnancy.

As the pregnancy progresses, it may affect your:

  • dexterity
  • agility
  • coordination
  • speed of movement
  • reach

Raising your own safety concerns

You are entitled to raise any concern about your health and safety at work, and that of your child, with your employer and they are required to assess it.

They are ultimately responsible for workplace safety, but you also have responsibility for your own safety.

If you have raised safety concerns and believe your employer has failed to take appropriate action, you can:

  • ask them to look at the issue again
  • speak to a trade union or safety representative if you have one, or
  • contact HSE to find advice on how you can ask HSE to investigate and what happens next

Rest and breastfeeding in the workplace

Before you return to work after maternity leave, you should send your employer written notification that you are breastfeeding. This is so your employer can ensure you return to a healthy, safe, and suitable environment.

Your employer must provide a suitable area where you can rest or breastfeed. It should:

  • include somewhere to lie down if necessary
  • be hygienic and private so you can express milk if you choose to – toilets are not a suitable or hygienic place for this
  • include somewhere to store your milk, for example a fridge

More advice about your rights

There is more information on your rights at work as a pregnant worker or new mother.

New and expectant mothers at work: Your health and safety (2024)


New and expectant mothers at work: Your health and safety? ›

Your employer should regularly monitor and review any risk assessment as circ*mstances may change, particularly at different stages of your pregnancy. If you think you are exposed to a risk at work, you need to talk to your employer about it so they can review the risk assessment.

What is the new and expectant mother policy? ›

The Workplace Regulations require employers to provide suitable rest facilities for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The manager must undertake a specific risk assessment when officially informed by the employee in writing. All Information will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

How to handle pregnant employees? ›

Managers can help pregnant employees by offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and flextime. Such options are a win-win, as they allow employees to better meet their work and non-work responsibilities, thereby enhancing performance while also reducing stress.

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 to deal with first trimester symptoms at work? ›

Coping with pregnancy symptoms at work

Try to use your lunch break to eat and rest. Your employer may also need to give you extra breaks. If travelling in rush hour is exhausting, ask your employer if you can work slightly different hours for a while. Don't rush home and start another job cleaning and cooking.

What is the pregnancy Safe Act? ›

Generally, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires a covered employer to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to a qualified employee's or applicant's known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the ...

What is a new expectant mother? ›

A new or expectant mother is a worker who is pregnant, who has given birth within the previous 6 months or who is breastfeeding.

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.

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.

What is the pregnancy policy for workers? ›

Equality Act. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to dismiss or discriminate against a worker because they are pregnant, a new mother or are breastfeeding.

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.

Is it okay to call in sick while pregnant? ›

Sick leave during pregnancy

If you are too ill to work you may need to take sick leave. You should follow your employer's sick leave procedures. Most employers will allow you to have a few days off without a doctor's note, but for longer periods of time they can ask for a doctor's note.

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.

What should my employer do when I am pregnant? ›

Health and safety. Once you've told your employer in writing that you're pregnant, they have to check your job for any health and safety risks to you or your baby. This is called a 'risk assessment'.

How many weeks before my due date should I leave work? ›

“You need to be ready to take care of a new life and that may mean leaving the week before you're due in order to have time for yourself.” Marter adds that this is ultimately a personal decision. “For some, it is helpful to take time off before the baby to rest, prepare and nest,” she notes.

What are 5 things a female should do while pregnant? ›

Summary of Tips for Pregnancy

Consume foods and beverages rich in folate, iron, calcium, and protein. Talk with your health care professional about prenatal supplements (vitamins you may take while pregnant). Eat breakfast every day. Eat foods high in fiber, and drink fluids (particularly water) to avoid constipation.

What are the new full term pregnancy guidelines? ›

According to the new designations1, full term will refer to 39 weeks through 40 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. In the past, a pregnancy between 37 and 42 weeks was considered full term. detailing the results of a workshop lead by NICHD that produced the new designations.

Is there a federal pregnancy policy? ›

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

What is the pregnant women's directive? ›

The European Union (EU) Pregnant Workers Directive is an important piece of European legislation which outlines minimum legal entitlements for workers across the EU. It covers leave, pay, health and safety, breastfeeding rights and other aspects of work and pregnancy.

What is the difference between a pregnant mother and expectant mother? ›

Essentially, an expectant mother can also be named a pregnant woman. The entire time you are pregnant, you are an expectant mother. You are an expectant mother the moment you find out you are pregnant till the moment you fully decide to go through with the adoption process and give birth.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Velia Krajcik

Last Updated:

Views: 5253

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Velia Krajcik

Birthday: 1996-07-27

Address: 520 Balistreri Mount, South Armand, OR 60528

Phone: +466880739437

Job: Future Retail Associate

Hobby: Polo, Scouting, Worldbuilding, Cosplaying, Photography, Rowing, Nordic skating

Introduction: My name is Velia Krajcik, I am a handsome, clean, lucky, gleaming, magnificent, proud, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.