So, an employee has informed you that she is pregnant. How should you proceed?

What must you do?

It is recommended that once you (the employer) are informed that a member of staff is pregnant, you should have a New & Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment conducted.
Each trimester (or more frequently if the pregnancy dictates it) another New & Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment should be conducted. You may also request the employee provide written medical confirming the pregnancy.

The hazards which can affect mother and baby are separated into 3 categories. Each must be considered in relation to pregnant, postnatal and breastfeeding stages.
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  • Agents which include Physical hazards, Chemical hazards and Biological hazards. Many of these hazards would not apply to a large number of businesses.
  • Industrial Processes in particular those involving carcinogens.
  • Working Conditions such as underground mining.


Example of Hazards:
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  • Prolonged standing up.
  • Heavy lifting, moving or strenuous work
  • Long working hours
  • Shift/night work
  • Shocks, noise or low frequency vibration
  • Biological agents such as Hepatitis, HIV, Herpes, TB or Chickenpox
  • Toxoplasma or other viruses – from meat, soil or contact with animals
  • Many chemicals
  • Devices emitting radiation such as X-Ray machines or Scanners


When completing the New & Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment there are a number of activities to be considered.

Example of Activities:
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  • Shift work/night work
  • Work at Height
  • Working on Slippery surfaces
  • Workspace layout,
  • Seating Arrangements ,
  • PPC still fitting later in the pregnancy.
  • Tiredness / exhaustion / stress
  • Noise / heat / humidity
  • Stress
  • Violence / Aggression / Theft
  • Passive smoking or fumes


Pregnancy and Work

You need to have a meeting with the pregnant employee regarding her work duties. This meeting should be used to identify any issues which could affect either herself or the child and ensure that you have effective controls in place to eliminate (or reduce as much as possible) the risk as is reasonably practicable. This meeting should take on board any concerns that the employee may have. Some discussion or interaction with an occupational health practitioner or doctor may be required.

You should record the discussion and have the employee sign as to their accuracy.
All working conditions and welfare arrangements should be agreed with the individual employee and records maintained to show that these have been communicated to the Line Managers to whom the employee reports on a daily basis.

You should have evidence that your risk assessment has been updated throughout the pregnancy.

The legislation requires an employer to ensure that pregnant, post natal and breastfeeding employees are able to lie down to rest in appropriate conditions.

It is rare but in some cases, the New & Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment may determine that the hazards in a specific workplace mean that it is not safe for the pregnant employee to be in the workplace and they have to remain at home. It is at this point that you as the Employer must place the pregnant employee on what is known as ‘Health & Safety Leave’. Naturally there are terms and conditions associated with this. The pregnant employee is entitled to full pay from you as their employer for the first 21 days of their suspension. After 21 days the pregnant employee is entitled to claim Health and Safety Benefit.