Managing a pregnant worker during coronavirus

If your workplace is still operational and you have a pregnant worker, it’s important you understand your obligations and responsibilities around pregnancy.

In fact, your general obligations have not changed at all. You have a duty to make a pregnant worker’s role safe for her (or in fact anyone’s role!), and you should do this through conducting a risk assessment, and identifying whether there are any aspects of her role or her working environment that represent a risk to her now she is pregnant, and address or remove those risks.
In terms of what this responsibility means during the coronavirus crisis, the government has advised that pregnant women should “be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures”, unless they fall into the ‘shielding’ category (which only includes pregnant women who also have significant heart disease).

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has issued some helpful guidance around pregnancy during the coronavirus crisis, including some information around working.

Whilst everyone should be working from home if at all possible, for some roles this is not possible, and you can keep pregnant workers in their roles outside the home as long as you can protect them.

Consider the government’s social distancing advice carefully and the advice for employers which contains specific information about health and safety measures at this time.

If you can maintain good social distancing and take suitable hygiene precautions, there is no reason your pregnant worker cannot remain in the workplace if this is necessary for her role.

However, what should you do if you cannot make her role safe?

If this happens, you have an obligation to make adjustments to make the role safe (which may involve working from home), or to find her alternative duties that are safe. But sometimes this may not be possible.

If you cannot make a pregnant worker’s role safe, and cannot find alternative duties for her to carry out, you have a specific legal obligation to suspend her from work on health and safety grounds, on full pay. If she is off work for this reason by the time she is four weeks before her due date her maternity leave will be triggered automatically.

 

If you’d like some advice on managing pregnant or otherwise vulnerable workers during coronavirus, do get in touch.