Guidance for the Employee
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Pregnant Pregnant

Guidance for expectant mums and dads

What laws and regulations do I need to be aware of now I’m pregnant?
Do I have to tell my employer if I am pregnant or a new mother?

The HSE states “While you do not have to inform your employer that you are pregnant, have given birth in the last six months or are breastfeeding, it is important (for you and your child’s health and safety) to notify them in writing as early as possible. Until your employer receives written notification from you, they are not required to take any further action, such as altering working conditions or hours of work.
Your employer can also ask you to provide a certificate from your GP or registered midwife showing that you are pregnant”.

To qualify for statutory maternity pay and leave, employees must inform their employer of their pregnancy at least 15 weeks prior to their Estimated Week of Childbirth.

What are my rights during IVF
What does my employer need to do now I’ve told them I’m pregnant?

Your employer must complete a pregnancy risk assessment as soon as you inform them, templates can be down loaded from the HSE website and a flow chart of considerations can be found

This risk assessment must be continuously reviewed and it's the pregnant employees responsibility to bring any changes in their health and safety to the attention of the employer so appropriate workplace adjustments can be made.

The HSE says “Employers are required by law to review general workplace risks. Your employer should regularly monitor and review any risk assessment as circumstances may change, particularly at different stages of your pregnancy. If you think you are exposed to a risk at work, you need to talk to your employer about it so they can review the risk assessment. You may also wish to talk to your safety representatives. Any written advice from your GP to your employer may help."

*Illness during pregnancy*

What happens if I’m ill due to my pregnancy but aren’t due to go on maternity?

The government website Maternity pay and leave: Leave - GOV.UK ( states maternity leave and statutory maternity pay will start automatically of the employee is off work for a pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks before the baby is due.

ACAS provide some useful information on illness during pregnancy. Maternity leave can be delayed if both the employer and employee agree together.

Employers cannot discriminate and it is against the law (Equality Act 2010) to treat an employee unfairly because of a pregnancy related illness.

Illness during pregnancy can affect people at any stage and in different ways. If an employee cannot work because of a pregnancy related illness they should report in sick to their work in the usual way and receive their usual sick pay. An employee can be asked to provide a fit note from your GP. Pregnancy related illness should be recorded separately from other sick leave.

If due to pregnancy the employee cannot continue in her work due to health and safety risks the employer, once informed in writing of the employees pregnancy, must change the work, offer a different suitable job or suspend her on full pay. An employer cannot ask the employee to go off on sick leave due to health and safety.

If they're ill or having a difficult pregnancy: Managing your employee's maternity leave and pay - Acas

Working whilst pregnant
*Considerations for equine vets and nurses*

Specific considerations for pregnant vets and their employers - Veterinary Woman

Working whilst pregnant as an Equine Vet or RVN has certain considerations due to the nature of our work and might find avoiding risk during pregnancy trickier due to lone working.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers and the self-employed to further assess any risks which affect pregnant women specifically.

Risks should be assessed and considered as part of your risk assessment.

  1. MEDICINES: safe handling of medicines is important to everyone but certain chemical agents including hormones, corticosteroids & cytotoxic drugs should be discussed & considered. If possible allow another member of the team to administer these medications under guidance. Read data sheets before use of medicines & chemicals.
    E.g. Norodine 24 injectable data sheet has recently been updated to state “women of childbearing age, pregnant women or women suspecting of being pregnant should use the veterinary medicinal product with serious caution to avoid accidental self-injection” due the evidence of potential fetotoxic effect of the excipient N-methyl pyrrolidone. SPC_137978.PDF (
  2. IONISING RADIATION: Contrary to popular belief, as long as standard procedures are followed then vast changes are not required. Exposure for fetus should be below 1mSV and it is strongly suggested working practices are checked to ensure they are meeting these requirements. 1mSV is about the amount that would naturally be incurred through natural radiation during practice.
    Most risk to foetus from ionizing radiation in first 12 weeks of pregnancy- some advocate not partaking in radiography altogether during the first trimester, although this is not a legal requirement.
    Pregnant women should be supported if they choose not to work with ionizing radiation.
    With radiography, aside the radiation risk the effects of heavy lifting and potential increased risk of injury due to reduced mobility & increased ligamentous laxity should also be considered.
    1. Lifting. Ask for help with lifting and carrying heavy objects. Consider whether assistance by another member of the practice (Vet, RVN, student) or owner could be obtained.
    2. Animal Handling- avoiding being kicked, barged or squashed should be avoided. Consider assistance from other members of the practice (Vet, RVN or student) and consider if certain premises might carry increased risk to pregnant personnel. Consider roles which might be lower risk during pregnancy and would allow immediate assistance if required.
  4. ZOONOSES: considerations equine practice might include Ringworm, Salmonella, E Coli, Giardia and although may not harm the feotus directly, they may cause in case of GI pathogens may cause severe gastroenteritis for pregnant woman and lead to more severe complications than would otherwise have been the case.
    Further info can be found on the HSE website Zoonoses - Agriculture - HSE
  5. INHALED ANAESTHETICS: Potential teratogenic effects and a higher risk of abortions are reported at high concentrations but be aware most of this data was collected in 1970-80s prior to modern anaesthetic agents and suitable scavenger systems. However, it is essential that anaesthetic scavenging is used and regular safety checks are performed to ensure a leak-free system. EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits (
  6. LONE WORKING: Lone working can pose extra challenges when avoiding risk during equine veterinary work and can be exacerbated during pregnancy. It can be helpful to assess whether there are any specific increased procedural risks associated with lone working. Discuss whether these might be mitigated by support by another VS, VN or student. Lone working poses the challenge that no immediate support might be available in the situation of ambulatory practice. Pre planning for these scenarios as a team is appropriate.
  7. ON CALL: Discuss the risks associated with being on call. Again a pre-prepared contingency plan is recommended if short notice changes are required. Equine ambulatory practice is faced with extra challenge that certain premises or patients may present higher risk during pregnancy.
  8. DRIVING: Long periods of sitting (or standing) can increase the risk of musculoskeletal pain or injury, or thrombosis. Increased tiredness may be experienced during pregnancy which should be considered carefully in ambulatory roles.
  9. REST BREAKS: The Workplace Regulations require employers to provide suitable rest facilities for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The facilities should be suitably located and, where necessary, should provide appropriate facilities for the expectant or new mother to lie down.
  10. CONTINGENCY PLANNING: we may not realise what we are unable to perform until it is upon us but this situation should be avoided if at all possible. It is better to be safe than to regret an injury that could have been preventable. All members of the practice staff should be aware of which tasks are not suitable to avoid the scenario of turning up to visit only to find they are unable to carry out the job due to safety concerns.

For further considerations on pregnancy in the veterinary workplace see:

Pregnancy in the veterinary workplace - Veterinary Woman

Maternity specific CPD:

The Pregnant Vet | VDS Training (

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?

Parental Leave
*Maternity Leave*

Maternity Leave – Entitlement of Leave & Pay?

Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) entitlement is 52 weeks. This is made up of Ordinary Maternity Leave- first 26 weeks and Additional Maternity Leave- last 26 weeks.

You do not have to take the full 52 weeks, but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born.

SML entitlement is available from first day of employment- it does not matter how long you’ve been with your employer, how many hours you work or how much you get paid. You will qualify for SML if you are an employee and give your employer appropriate notice.

You must tell your employer you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before your baby is due and when you want to start maternity leave. Your employer may request this in writing. Your employer must write to you within 28 days confirming your start and end dates.

Your employer might ask to see a medical certificate or 'MAT B1' form. You can get this from your doctor or midwife once you're 20 weeks' pregnant.

During SML you may also be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). If you’re legally classed as an employee, you get SMP when both apply;

1.You have been working continuously for 26 weeks for the same employer before your ‘qualifying week

2.You earn at least £123/week on average for 8 weeks before your ‘qualifying week’

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks then £172.48 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

SMP is paid in the same way as your salary is paid. Tax and National Insurance will be deducted. Your employer can claim your SMP back from HMRC.

If you are not eligible for SMP you may be able to get Maternity Allowance.

Maternity Allowance is payable to self-employed women if you have been self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due. You must be registered as self-employed with HMRC.

Many companies offer better than the legal minimum. Details of any enhanced maternity package will be stated in your contract and through your HR department.

Maternity pay questions - Maternity Action

Maternity pay and leave: Overview - GOV.UK (

Time off work for parents | Acas

Maternity Leave: What are my rights?

You are entitled to all conditions of your contract when on maternity leave. The employment terms and conditions are protected and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during the leave.

Employment benefits stated in your contract such as a company car, mobile phone, professional or club memberships, health and other insurance should continue as normal during maternity leave. You should be able to keep a company car or mobile phone if provided for personal use by your company throughout the time you are off. Also, participation in share schemes, professional subscriptions, free or subsidised travel, and subsidised childcare should continue.

During Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) your employer must continue to pay full pension contributions as though you were working normally, whether or not you plan to return to work afterwards. Pension contributions usually stop if a period of leave is unpaid, unless your contract says otherwise. For example, during unpaid periods of maternity leave or parental leave.. Your employer’s contributions must be based on your normal pay.

WF maternity calendar 2019-2020 - A4 web version.pdf (

Employee rights when on leave - GOV.UK (

Checking your pregnancy and maternity rights: Your maternity leave, pay and other rights - Acas

Maternity leave: Holiday

You still accrue your usual holiday entitlement while you're on maternity leave. This includes bank holidays. You cannot take holiday or get holiday pay while on maternity leave but you can arrange with your employer for you to take it before or after maternity leave.

Talk with your employer to agree how and when to take your holiday entitlement.

How much holiday you should get: Checking holiday entitlement - Acas

Maternity Leave- Student Loan Repayments?

Whether or not you pay your student loan while on maternity leave depends on your maternity package.

If your employer offers enhanced maternity you need to check what that amount will be and whether its above the student loan minimum repayment threshold. If you are on SMP only you won’t need to make any repayments as you will be below the threshold.

You don’t need to do any yourself to stop or restart the repayments- it will be done automatically as your earning change each month. It is important to note interest will still accrue on student loan repayments during any periods of non-payment.

Student Loans Company - GOV.UK (

Maternity Leave- Contact with Work?

Your employer has the right to a reasonable amount of contact with you during your maternity leave. Before you go on maternity leave, your employer or manager should have a meeting with you to talk about how you'd like to stay in touch.

By law, while you're on maternity leave your employer must tell you if jobs are being advertised, of any promotion opportunities and if they're planning redundancies or reorganisation.

You can also agree with them what else you'd like to hear about, for example staff bulletins or social events, how you'd like to communicate, for example by email/call/text or keeping in touch (KIT) days and how often you'd like to be in touch.

Maternity Leave- KIT days?

Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave. These days are called ‘keeping in touch’ (KIT) days.

KIT days are optional - both the employee and employer need to agree to them.
It's up to you to agree with your employer: if you want to work KIT days, how many days you want (upto maximum of 10), what type of work you'll do on the days and how much you'll be paid for the work (this cannot be below the National Minimum Wage)

It still counts as a full KIT day even if you only work part of it, for example a half day. If you work more than 10 KIT days, your maternity leave and pay automatically end by law.

Maternity Leave and CPD requirements?

RCVS annual CPD requirements remain at 35 hours for VS and 15 hours for VN, regardless of whether they are working full or part-time. If you’re absent from work and unable to meet the minimum CPD requirements you can apply to pause your CPD for up to 6 months. This means you only have to fulfil half of the annual CPD requirement if you take the full 6 month pause.

You can apply to pause your CPD through the online RCVS CPD recording platform, 1CPD. There are no restrictions on how many times you can apply to pause your CPD.

CPD Flowchart - Professionals (

Remember KIT days count towards CPD allocation. Anything that is relevant to you, as a veterinary professional, can be counted as CPD- it does not have to be clinically related or formal course attendance.

It is possible to change RCVS registration category during maternity leave to ‘non practising’ whilst remaining on the RCVS register. Members should Members are reminded that they are required to notify the RCVS within 28 days of any amendments to their Register entry (ie from UK practicing to Non-Practicing) and ensure you are reinstated to ‘UK practicing’ category before return to any type of veterinary work or doing any KIT days. Employers who pay RCVS registration as a part of your employment contract should continue to do so during maternity leave.

Registration categories - Professionals (

Change of category fees - Professionals (

*Paternity Leave and Pay*

Paternity Leave

Partners may be eligible for 1 or 2 weeks statutory paternity leave following the birth of a child. You can choose to take either 1 or 2 weeks. You get the same amount of leave if your partner has a multiple birth (such as twins). You must be an employee, give the correct notice and have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks upto any day in the ‘qualifying week’

Paternity pay and leave: Overview - GOV.UK (

You must take your leave in one go. A week is the same amount of days that you normally work in a week - for example, a week is 2 days if you only work on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Leave cannot start before the birth. It must end within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby is early).

You must give your employer 28 days’ notice if you want to change your start date.

You do not have to give a precise date when you want to take leave (for example 1st February). Instead you can give a general time, such as the day of the birth or 1 week after the birth.

Paternity Pay

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) is £172.48 per week. You must be employed by your employer up to the date of birth, earn at least £123 a week (before tax), give the correct notice and have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the ‘qualifying week’.

Paternity pay and leave: How to claim - GOV.UK (

*Shared Parental Leave*

Shared Parental Leave & Pay ?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) enables eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child. You can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

You and your partner may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you’re having a baby, using a surrogate to have a baby, adopting a child or fostering a child who you’re planning to adopt.

You need to share the pay and leave in the first year after your child is born or placed with your family.

You can use SPL to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, or take it all in one go. You can also choose to be off work together or to stagger the leave and pay.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay: How it works - GOV.UK (


Ordinary Parental Leave

Parents also have the right to 'ordinary parental leave' (OPL) or ‘unpaid parental leave’. This is unpaid time off work to be with their child.

Parental leave is additional to other types of time off employees are usually entitled to, such as: maternity, paternity and adoption leave and shared parental leave or holiday

Parental leave is usually unpaid but some employers might offer pay. This should be written in the employment contract.

Each parent is entitled to take up to 18 weeks for each child or adopted child up to their 18th birthday. Each parent can take a maximum of 4 weeks a year for each child (unless the employer agrees otherwise). You must take parental leave as whole weeks rather than individual days. A ‘week’ equals the length of time an employee normally works over 7 days.

Taking parental leave: Ordinary parental leave - Acas

Unpaid parental leave: Entitlement - GOV.UK (

*Legal Advice*

BEVA Members can receive free legal telephone advice as one of your membership benefits. To speak to the legal helpline team please call 01753 300 584 quoting PGM/PG Mutual

Membership | BEVA