What employers must do to protect new and expectant mothers

Generally, pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to be seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop the new coronavirus, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

In normal circumstances, employers’ routine risk assessments must consider any risks to new and expectant mothers, for example, from working conditions, or the use of physical or chemical agents.

If this identifies a significant health and safety, which goes beyond the normal level of risk found outside the workplace, employers must take the following actions:

  • Temporarily adjust her working conditions and/or working hours; or if that is not possible
  • Offer suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay); or if that is not possible
  • Suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as necessary to protect her health and safety, and that of her child.

If new and expectant mothers are expected to attend work, they may be exposed to risks beyond the normal level of risk found outside the workplace, as the risk of contracting COVID-19 while working from home may be much lower than in the workplace, depending on the task and the workplace. The above three-step process may therefore need to be implemented.

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