It is very important that employees who become pregnant are aware of their rights. It is equally important that employers are aware of their obligations to pregnant employees. Clarifying the latest regulations regarding these rights is useful for both parties.
Maternity Leave Compulsory
Regardless of whether an employee is choosing to take up their Statutory Maternity Leave they are still legally bound to take 2 weeks off work once the baby has been born and this extends to 4 weeks for factory employees.
Safety for Pregnant Employees
Once an employer knows an employee is pregnant they must make a health and safety assessment of the environment in which the employee works. They must ensure the employee does not undertake heavy lifting; is not exposed to toxic materials or substances; is sitting or standing for too long without breaks; or is working very long hours. These can all pose a risk to a pregnancy. If the employer is unable to remove any of these risks then the employee must be suspended on full pay. The safety of a pregnant employee is something all involved should take seriously and if you feel this is not happening then you may benefit from speaking to employment solicitors who can advise you.
The main rights for women who are pregnant and working are covered in the following four points:
Time off which is paid for antenatal visits and care
The right to not be treated unfairly, be discriminated against or dismissed because of pregnancy.
Maternity leave and maternity pay are usually a mixture of what the employer offers and the statutory government rights that every employed woman should be entitled to. All women should make sure they are aware of their statutory rights and be fully informed about what their employer offers in addition to this.
Time off for antenatal care is not just for appointments with the time off for antenatal appointments or classes or withhold pay for those hours. An employer is actually in breach of contract if they change anything in a pregnant employee’s contract without doctor or midwife but also by law includes antenatal classes that the doctor or midwife recommends. Employers cannot refuse to grant gaining agreement first.
It is required by law that employees inform their employer that they are pregnant at least 15 weeks prior to the start of the due date week. They must also tell their employer when they wish their maternity leave and pay to begin.
Both employers and employees have obligations to each other in these situations and it works best if communication is kept open and transparent. In most cases everything runs smoothly when it comes to maternity leave and pay. Unfortunately there are instances where pregnant employees are not treated as fairly as they should be or are not protected from risks. Some employees who return from maternity leave find themselves either facing dismissal or being treated unfairly upon their return. In these cases employees may have to consult employment solicitors for legal advice. If you find yourself needing expert advice in this area it is worth seeking advice from legal professionals.
Shirley Jones is an experienced writer who contributes regularly to many websites and blogs. One of her particular areas of interest is the law and how it affects people in their everyday lives. For this piece she conducted research with employment solicitors.