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Covid-19 Updated Government Advice for Pregnant Employees

20 January 2021 Written by Pearsons & Ward Solicitors Category: COVID-19

gill wilkinsonIn collaboration with HSE, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCOM), the Government has updated the advice for pregnant employees.

This advice is for you if you are pregnant and working as an employee. This includes pregnant healthcare professionals. It will help you discuss with your line manager and occupational health team how best to ensure health and safety in the workplace.

If you are pregnant and have let your employer know in writing of your pregnancy, your employer should carry out a risk assessment to follow the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW) or the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000. This may involve obtaining advice from the occupational health department. See the workplace risk assessment guidance for healthcare workers and for vulnerable people working in other industries.

Information contained in the RCOG/RCM guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) in pregnancy should be used as the basis for a risk assessment. 

Pregnant women of any gestation should not be required to continue working if this is not supported by the risk assessment. Pregnant women are considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ or in some cases ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to coronavirus (COVID-19), and therefore require special consideration.

Employees who are less than 28 weeks pregnant with no underlying health conditions

You must first have a workplace risk assessment with your employer and occupational health team.

Then, you should only continue working if the risk assessment advises that it is safe to do so.

This means that your employer should remove or manage any risks. If this cannot be done, you should be offered suitable alternative work or working arrangements (including working from home) or be suspended on your normal pay.

Your employer should ensure they are able to adhere to any active national guidance on social distancing.

Some higher risk occupations such as those with greater public contact or in healthcare may carry a higher risk of exposure to the virus. In healthcare settings this may include working in specific higher risk areas or higher risk procedures.

You should be supported by your employer with appropriate risk mitigation in line with recommendations to staff arising from workplace risk assessment.

Employees who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond or pregnant employees with underlying health conditions

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

This is because although you are at no more risk of contracting the virus than any other non-pregnant person who is in similar health, you have an increased risk of becoming severely ill and of pre-term birth if you contract COVID-19. 

Your employer should ensure you are able to adhere to any active national guidance on social distancing and/or advice for pregnant women considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable (this group may previously have been advised to shield).

For many workers, this may require working flexibly from home in a different capacity.

All employers should consider both how to redeploy these staff and how to maximise the potential for homeworking, wherever possible.

Where adjustments to the work environment and role are not possible (e.g. manufacturing/retail industries) and alternative work cannot be found, you should be suspended on paid leave. 

The advice may change in future and as always we will be here to provide regular updates. Should you require any further advice, please contact Gillian Reid on York 01904 716000 , Wetherby 01937 583210 or Malton 01653 692247 or email .

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