guidance on how to help protect the health and safety of new or expectant
mothers at work has been launched.
guidance, by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and supported by the Equal
Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Maternity Alliance, aims to answer some
of the questions employees may have about continuing to work while pregnant and
returning to work after the birth.
and Expectant Mothers at Work – A Guide for Health Professionals, highlights
the importance of health professionals’ role in helping to protect these women.
have a legal responsibility to protect their female employees from hazards and
risks in the workplace and to assess possible risks to new and expectant
mothers. If risks are identified then the new or expectant mother is entitled
to a change in working conditions, to be offered suitable alternative work, or,
if that’s not possible, to be suspended from work on full pay for as long as
head of health management unit, Colleen Bowen, said: “It is important that
women employees inform their employers that they are pregnant or breastfeeding
as early as possible. This is because employers are not required to take any
specific action until they have received written notification.
Gowdridge, director of the Maternity Alliance, added: "A better understanding
of the health and safety laws protecting pregnant women and new mothers can
help health professionals to protect the health and well-being of mothers and
of course their babies. And it could lead to fewer women losing out financially
at a time when they need it the most. That’s why the HSE’s new guidance is
important in raising the awareness of health professionals and pregnant women
on employers’ responsibilities."