Working whilst pregnant FAQs

Remember that in order to qualify for maternity leave in the first place, you must tell your employer that you’re pregnant no later than 15 weeks before your due date.

Bear in mind that your employer may request that you declare your pregnancy in writing, including your baby due date and also when you want your maternity leave to begin.  You needn’t do this before you’ve properly made up your mind, but it’s a reasonable thing to do in order to help your employer plan how to effectively manage your workload, breaks and any antenatal classes before you begin your maternity leave.

Your employer may also reasonably request a copy of your ‘MAT B1’ maternity certificate; the one that you’ll receive from your doctor or midwife upon reaching 21 weeks of pregnancy.

Another thing your employer may do is make a Health and Safety Assessment about you and your role at work, in order to identify any aspects of your job that you can’t reasonably be expected to fulfil while you’re pregnant.  For example, manual work such as heavy lifting may be something all parties would want to sensibly avoid.

As part of this whole process, certain other things will need to be agreed.  You are allowed to take time off from work to attend antenatal sessions, and this entitlement is regardless of how long you’ve worked for your employer. 

An employer must also legally provide a pregnant woman with somewhere to rest, and lie down if necessary.

If you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly, and haven’t been afforded a reasonable amount of breaks or the facilities to rest during your pregnancy, then contact QualitySolicitors to see if we can help.  You can always have a five-minute chat with us for free, so we can see how we might be able to help you.  We call this Free Initial Assessment, and it’s available to anyone who calls us on {{phone}}.

However if a doctor or midwife has provided you with a medical certificate stating that for your health and safety you must change your hours of work, then your employer must offer you suitable, alternative arrangements.

A pregnant employee has certain key legal rights; the right to attend antenatal appointments, the right to have maternity leave and maternity pay, and protection against being discriminated against because they’re pregnant.

If you’ve worked for the same employer for over 26 weeks then you have a legal right to request a change to your working hours, but in fact an employer isn’t legally obliged to accommodate your request.

And while the points listed above cover an employer’s legislative duties, but most responsible employers would, for health and safety reasons, happily discuss ways in which you might slightly alter the hours that you work while you’re pregnant in a way that means you can maximise your productivity for the company.

There are actually a number of formal options that you and your employer might agree on if you wished to alter your working hours during your pregnancy.

You could work part-time, cutting your role down slightly to reduce the impact of your job on your health.  Or it might be possible to work from home, at least for a proportion of your working week, to avoid the stresses and tribulations of (among other things) the daily commute.  Depending on what your role is you could look into some job sharing possibilities, your line manager might be able to advise on this in the first instance.  Some employers allow their employees to work to a compressed hours working week, where an employee works their normal number of hours but in less time. 

A practical solution might comprise a mixture of the options outlined above.  Consumer rights organisation ‘Which?’ have some great information about working hours after maternity leave including some more options; ‘flexitime’, ‘annualised hours’ and ‘staggered working hours’.

Your human resources (or personnel) manager, or your line manager is a good place to start if you’re looking into altering your working hours while you’re pregnant, but of course if you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly, and you want to seek some independent legal advice, then please contact QualitySolicitors on {{phone}} for Free Initial Assessment (a free introductory five-minute chat about your circumstances).

When a company makes a redundancy, it means that there’s no further need for the role you’re being paid for.  It shouldn’t matter whether the person is pregnant, on maternity leave, or not, it’s the role that is redundant not the person.  In fact it would be against the law for your employer to consider your pregnancy or maternity leave as a factor when assessing whether a job role is to be made redundant.

Whilst you are on maternity leave, you have additional rights which say that if you are selected for redundancy, your employer must offer you suitable alternative work before other employees who are not on maternity leave.

If your job finishes, for whatever reason, after 15 weeks before your baby is due, and you were still employed in that week, your employer will have to pay your statutory maternity pay. This means that they will have to pay your maternity pay, even though you no longer work for them.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly at work by a redundancy while you’re pregnant or on maternity leave then contact us on {{phone}} to discuss possible legal representation.

One of the key employment rights of a pregnant woman is the right to take time off to attend all antenatal appointments.  Normally, if you’re an employee, then you’re allowed to take paid time off, but if you’re a freelance or agency worker and you’ve worked for that employer for less than 12 weeks then although you’re allowed to attend antenatal appointments without any discrimination at all, you may have to take unpaid time off to do this.

Wherever an employer gives you time off for antenatal reasons, this time off includes travel time taken to get there and back.

The rules are slightly different for a father-to-be; the father of a baby is allowed to attend up to two antenatal appointments on an ‘unpaid time off’ basis. 

A ‘father’ in this case can be defined as being the father, the mother’s husband or civil partner, the man who lives with the mother, or a future parent in the case of a surrogate arrangement.

If any of the definitions above applies to you, then your employer may ask you for a written declaration of your intent to take time off for antenatal-related reasons.  The Working Families website offers a very good template if you want to make such a declaration to your employer.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you don’t actually have to give evidence that you’re attending an antenatal class, but you just have to make the written declaration (which can be sent electronically or on paper).

If you feel that your employer has unreasonably refused your right to attend an antenatal appointment, then get in touch with QualitySolicitors on {{phone}} and we can have a quick chat for free so we can let you know how we’ll be able to help.

There are many reasons why you should notify your employer that you’re pregnant, and we can’t think of any why you wouldn’t.

The law protects pregnant women from being discriminated against, so it’s illegal to lose your job or be treated differently in the workplace because you’re expecting a baby.  And furthermore, once you’ve declared your pregnancy to your employer then there are certain benefits and entitlements that apply to you in order to help you manage; both at home and in work.

Legislation states that you should tell your employer at least 15 weeks’ notice that you’re going to have a baby, although common sense might suggest that the more time you give your employer, the more time your employer has to put any processes into place that can help you, them, and your colleagues too.

Your employer is entitled to ask to see the MAT B1 certificate that is provided by your doctor or midwife; this confirms your due date. 

After that you’re allowed to take paid time off in order to attend any antenatal appointments, and of course if your job normally requires you to do manual work or other work that’s inappropriate for a pregnant woman then your employer must do a risk assessment in order to work out what you can and can’t be reasonably expected to do.

Perhaps the biggest effect in a pregnant woman’s workplace is statutory maternity leave.  A new mother may take 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave followed by an optional additional maternity leave of up to a further 26 weeks.  Naturally an employer is likely to want to know how long you’ll want to take, so that alternative arrangements can be made in your absence.

Upon your return, you’re entitled to request changes to your working hours in order to help you cope with both work and motherhood.

If you feel that you’ve been unfairly treated at work in any way after you notified your employer that you’re pregnant then get in touch with QualitySolicitors by calling {{phone}} so we can have a quick free chat about how we might be able to help you.

In the UK, legislation has been put into place to protect the rights of pregnant women and to protect them from being discriminated against.  And perhaps the foundation of all maternity legislation is the health and safety of both mother and child.

As a pregnant woman, you’re entitled to be able to attend antenatal appointments without loss of pay, and you’re entitled to statutory maternity leave for at least 26 weeks up to 52 weeks.  You’re protected from losing your job because of your pregnancy, and if your role is deemed redundant during maternity leave, your employer must normally provide you with alternative employment with no changes to your basic employment terms and conditions (although some exceptions exist).

While you’re pregnant, and after you return from maternity leave, you’re entitled to request a reasonable change in working hours and conditions to help you cope with both your baby and your job.

Some people work shifts, and as part of their normal routine are required to work overnight shifts.  If working overnight is part of your normal working terms and conditions, then you’ll still be expected to work nights while you’re pregnant.

However if you have a certificate from your doctor or midwife that specifically states that working overnight may harm the health of you or your baby, and your employer has not provided you with alternative daytime work, and (if a day shift was not possible) has not suspended you from work on paid leave, then this may be a breach of discrimination.

Contact QualitySolicitors on {{phone}} and we can have a free no-obligation five-minute chat about what you’ve experienced.  We can then advise you on what legal steps you may take next.

No, you don’t. It is usually sensible to wait until you have a job offer, preferably in writing, before you tell an employer that you are pregnant. By law, they are not allowed to withdraw the offer because you are pregnant.

Alternatively, depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, you may decide to wait until you have started the job. If you tell your employer once you have started and they ask you to leave, this could give you cause to raise a claim against them for sex discrimination or unfair dismissal.

If you think your employer (or anyone else) at work is putting your safety at risk, treating you unfairly or is in breach of your rights, you must raise your concerns with your employer.

If you would like to have a confidential chat with one of our legal professionals, we can help. QualitySolicitors provide advice to working parents and mums to be across the UK. Get in touch today on 0800 999 7070 for a free initial assessment appointment over the phone.

You can find out more about making a complaint about health and safety at work on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Many women like to wait until they're past the 13 week stage. If you're worried that parts of your job could be dangerous to your pregnancy, you might want to tell your employer sooner rather than later. Heavy lifting, having to stand for long periods, and long working hours can all be risky to pregnancy, and in such cases an employer must consider other more appropriate employment alternatives.

An employer must also allow a pregnant woman to attend all antenatal appointments without it affecting her employment terms.  This time off work isn’t taken from an employee’s normal annual leave, so it makes sense to tell your employer that you’re pregnant, otherwise you may find you have to take a ‘half-day holiday’ to attend an antenatal appointment.

In fact being allowed ‘paid time off for antenatal care’ is one of the four key rights given to a pregnant employee.  The other key rights are; the right to maternity leave (up to 52 weeks), the right to maternity pay or a maternity allowance, and the right to not be treated unfairly, or dismissed, or discriminated against because of your pregnancy.

This all means that an employer must not negatively change a pregnant employee’s terms of employment.  To do so would be against the law.  If you feel you have a pregnancy-related complaint to make against your employer then you may want legal advice.

Call us at QualitySolicitors on {{phone}} for Free Initial Assessment; this is a free five-minute chat to talk your issue through with one of our legal representatives so we can then explain how can help.