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If you are pregnant you must tell your employer 15 weeks before your baby is due.  You do not need to tell your employer before then.  When you tell your employer of your intention to take maternity leave and when you want to start maternity leave, your employer should respond within 28 days.

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment to identify any health risks.  If any health risks are identified, your job could be amended to remove any risk to your health or the health of your unborn baby, you could be moved to an alternative job if it is suitable or you could be suspended on full pay if no suitable alternative job is available and your usual job is not suitable whilst you are pregnant.  When carrying out a risk assessment your employers should consider:

  • Regular rest breaks in order to prevent circulation problems and allow you time to eat;
  • Assistance with any lifting and reducing the need to lift as far as is reasonable;
  • A workstation assessment to ensure that your working environment is suitable;
  • Health and safety requirements, particularly if you are working with any chemicals and substances such as paint or solvents or hair dyes and use gloves. 

You have the right to be moved to a less risky job or suspended on full pay if you can't be moved to a safer job.

Paid Time Off

You should be allowed paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments.  You may have to let your employer see your ante-natal appointments card as they do have the right to see it to confirm appointment times.  You should not be asked to make time up.

If you are off work with a pregnancy-related illness, you must be paid and treated the same as you would be if you had a non pregnancy-related illness.  However, pregnancy-related illness must not be taken into account for any disciplinary action relating to sickness absence.  If you are off work for pregnancy-related reasons in the four weeks before your baby is due, your employer has to start your maternity leave from the day after the first day of your absence.

Dismissal whilst Pregnant

If you are dismissed from employment whilst pregnant, you are entitled to have the reasons for your dismissal in writing.  If you have been dismissed for reasons relating to your pregnancy, your dismissal will be automatically unfair and you may have an employment tribunal claim against your employer.

Pregnancy and Redundancy

Selection for redundancy cannot be for any reason connected with pregnancy or maternity leave, e.g. time taken off for pregnancy-related illness. However, you can still be selected for redundancy for other reasons whilst you are pregnant. If redundancies take place whilst you are on maternity leave and there is a suitable vacancy, you should automatically be given this role. 

Your employer should ensure you are not treated unfairly, this includes treatment by colleagues or clients.  If you encounter problems at work because you are expecting a baby, keep a diary and call Ashley Hunt, Vaishali Thakerar or Carrie-Ann Randall on 0116 212 1000 now for a free initial discussion. We also run a number of free drop-in advice clinics at our offices in Leicester, Wigston & Market Harborough.
Please also see our pages on Pregnancy at Work Frequently Asked QuestionsMaternity Leave, Paternity Leave and Flexible Working Requests.  We also have a Pregnancy at Work and Maternity Leave Resources page for Employees which also features news articles on pregnancy at work issues.