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The law and pregnant working women

Maternity Leave for pregnant women

Pregnant workers are protected by law to stop them being discriminated against and treated less favorably than other employees.

As a woman if you are employed and become pregnant then you are entitled to maternity leave and other assistance from your employer.

As a rule of thumb and possibly depending on how long you have been with your employer you are entitles to up to 52 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave. After new legislation was introduced in October 2008 this is broken down into 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and a further 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave, making a total of 52 weeks.

The law entitles pregnant women to paid time at your normal rate of pay for any reasonable time off during their normal working hours.

Employers may ask for proof of your appointments and may check to make sure you attend your medical appointments, i.e. antenatal clinics. So always try to provide your managers in advance with evidence, like medical letters etc of when your clinics and doctors appointments are. 

If in the unfortunate event of a employee gives premature birth before their expected week of childbirth (EWC), then their maternity leave period will start from that date. Also if a employee cannot come to work because of a pregnancy related illness then again their maternity leave period will start from that date.

Whilst you are off work you contract of employment will continue to exist as normal.

When to tell your employer you are pregnant

Ideally you should let your employer know as soon as you can about your pregnancy, this will help them plan ahead to give you time of for say antenatal clinics. You must tell your employer at least 15 weeks before when you intends to start your maternity leave. 

Returning to work

You will have already agreed a return date with your company before your leave period, how ever is you intend to return before the end of your maternity period then you must give then 8 weeks notice. 

If you disagree with your employers

Employers also have responsibilities and obligations to look after their health and safety whilst they are at work. For instance if you work in a warehouse and your job requires you to lift heavy objects, then you employer should carry out a risk assessment to evaluate if it is safe for you to do so.

If at any time you feel that your safety and the health of your unborn baby is being put at risk by you’re the work you do then firstly have a meeting with your managers. If they disagree with you then you and you are still concerned then you should contact your local Health and Safety Executive, and seek their advice.

Related topics:

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Sexism and discrimination


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