What employers must do to protect new and expectant mothers?

Last updated: 05 Aug 2021

Studies from the UK show that pregnant women are no more likely to get COVID-19 than other healthy adults, but they are at slightly increased risk of becoming severely unwell if they do catch COVID-19, and are more likely to have pregnancy complications like preterm birth or stillbirth, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The government, the Health and Safety Executive, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives have jointly produced guidance for pregnant employees.

It advises that women who are less than 28 weeks pregnant with no underlying health conditions should have a workplace risk assessment with their employer and occupational health team. They should only continue working if the risk assessment advises that it is safe to do so.

If the employer cannot appropriately remove or manage any risks, they should be offered suitable alternative work or working arrangements (including working from home) or be suspended on your normal pay.

Women who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, or are pregnant and have an underlying health condition that puts them at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 at any gestation, should take a more precautionary approach.

Employers should ensure these women are able to appropriately social distance, which for many workers may require working flexibly from home or in a different capacity.