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02nd December 2014

Expectant mothers: Have you considered the risks involved?

Maternity leaveThe health and safety of new or expectant mothers…now there’s a topic that always raises a number of HR related questions. Whilst not trying to encroach into the Health & Safety world, it is something that, as an employer, you should have an awareness of and consider when you are know that an employee is expecting a child. Often with HR legislation there is a qualifying period before an employer has to act, but with new or expectant mothers there isn’t.

So what should you be aware of? Has your employee informed you in writing of their pregnancy? For an employee to qualify for maternity leave, they must tell you by the end of the 15th week before their expected week of childbirth.

Do you legally have to undertake a specific risk assessment for a pregnant employee and what should you consider?

  • Surprisingly, no is the answer to the specific assessment. But as an employer you must carry out a risk assessment for all employees to ensure that they are protected from any harm.
  • As part of that risk assessment it would be wise to consider the implications for any female employees of childbearing age.
  • We would always suggest that it would be ‘best practice’ to undertake an individual risk assessment for a new or expectant mother during her pregnancy.
  • A regular review of the process would also be advised to ensure that any significant changes are identified and action is taken to ensure your employee isn’t placed in any undue risk.
  • For the employee who is in a hurry to return to work, don’t forget to ensure that the relevant period of compulsory maternity leave is taken prior to them returning to work.

Your duty of care to all your employees is very important, and some would suggest even more so with pregnant employees. Your attitude here plays a key factor in building trust with your employees.

Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor

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