Can I rearrange my hours to decrease my stress level?
If the risk assessment identifies stress as a possible risk, your employer should remove the risk, where possible. If that is not possible, your working conditions or hours of work should be adjusted.
Am I entitled to more frequent rest breaks?
The HSE states “As a new or expectant mother, you are likely to need to go to the toilet more often, as it is important to drink plenty of fluids both while you are pregnant and when you are breastfeeding. It is sensible to agree timing and flexibility of rest breaks with your employer as part of the risk assessment process.”
I have told my GP I think my health problems are due to risks I have been exposed to at work. I am pregnant, so should I be signed off work?
Signing you off sick from work may not resolve the cause of your ill health and in some circumstances, this may affect your maternity benefits. Once informed that you are pregnant, your employer may revisit their original, general risk assessment and if that identifies a risk, take the appropriate action.
What H&S considerations should I be aware of whilst pregnant?
The government website states “When the employee tells her employer she’s pregnant, the employer should assess the risks to the woman and her baby. Risks could be caused by:
◦ heavy lifting or carrying
◦ standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks
◦ exposure to toxic substances-chemotherapy, x-rays, Working Safely with ionising radiation: Guidelines for expectant and breastfeeding mothers
◦ long working hours-OOH, driving for long periods of time
Where there are risks, the employer should take reasonable steps to remove them, e.g. by offering the employee different work or changing their hours. The employer should suspend the employee on full pay, if they are unable to remove any risks, e.g. by offering suitable alternative work. Pregnant employees who think they’re at risk but their employer disagrees should talk to their health and safety or trade union representative. If your employer still refuses to do anything, talk to your doctor or contact the HSE”.
What hazardous substances should I be aware of?
Please watch the webinar by Carolyne Crowe for a good overview of hazards you may need to consider when pregnant. Things to consider are drugs e.g. chemotherapy, reproductive drugs, radiation, anesthetics. Take a look at the BUMPs webpage to view Medicine in Pregnancy.
What about physical dangers?
Working with horses whether pregnant or not is physically dangerous. Being kicked, barged or knocked can result in injury, these injuries may be more severe or have greater consequences when pregnant. Take sensible precautions and keep talking to your practice manager or partner about the work you are doing and ensure your risk assessments are frequently performed.
Do I still need to work nights or do OOH?
The HSE say “A new or expectant mother may work nights, provided this presents no risk to her health and safety. However, if a specific work risk has been identified – or her GP / midwife has provided a medical certificate stating she must not work nights – her employer must offer suitable alternative day work, on the same terms and conditions. If that is not possible, the employer must suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as is necessary to protect her health and safety and / or that of her child.”
It’s essential you have an open honest conversation and explain what you need and identify how this will work for the practice too. Try and approach your pregnancy challenges as a solution to the practice, not just bringing problems.
Time off for antenatal appointments
Pregnant employees are entitled to “reasonable” paid time off for antenatal care. This includes time spent travelling to the appointment and waiting to be seen.
Antenatal care can include scans and meetings with the midwife, as well as, relaxation and parent craft classes. The appointment for care must relate to her pregnancy and have been made on the advice of a GP, nurse or midwife.
No proof is required for a first appointment. For subsequent appointments you can require your employee to provide proof of pregnancy and the appointment. You cannot unreasonably refuse paid time off for antenatal care or require her to “make-up” the time spent at appointments.
I’m being bullied at work due to my pregnancy-what do I do?