Employers not doing enough to keep pregnant women safe at work, TUC and Maternity Action warn

The TUC and Maternity Action have today (Wednesday) warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work.

  • New guidance published to protect new and expectant mothers 

The TUC and Maternity Action have today (Wednesday) warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work. 

The organisations have published new guidance which details steps bosses should be taking to keep female staff safe during and after pregnancy.  

The new guide says there are clear laws in place to protect new and expectant mothers. But warns that many bosses don’t know what they should be doing or are ignoring their legal responsibilities.  

A recent survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that two in five (41%) expectant mothers felt that there was a risk to their health or welfare at work during pregnancy.  

The guide highlights the risks new and expectant mothers face. These include:  

  • Irregular and long working hours: Working irregular hours such as night shifts can change circadian rhythms which regulate pregnancy hormones. And shift work and long working hours have been linked to miscarriages, and preterm births.   
  • Travelling: Pregnant women may have an increased need to use the toilet which can cause problems for bus, freight and train drivers. There can also be a higher risk of musculoskeletal problems such as back pain during pregnancy which can be made worse by driving or sitting in a train, car or plane for long periods.  
  • Stress: Constant stress in pregnancy can be damaging. Stress has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and possible developmental problems in babies.   
  • Heat: During pregnancy, the body has to work harder to cool down both the woman’s body and that of the unborn baby, so a pregnant worker is more likely to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke. And pregnant women are also more likely to become dehydrated.  

The guide suggests ways bosses can keep their pregnant staff safe including: 

  • making workstations like desks and checkouts more comfortable 
  • changing workload or hours to reduce stress  
  • varying starting and finishing times to make commuting easier  
  • agreeing an increase in breaks to visit the toilet and drink more fluids.  

The guide also sets out what employers need to do when a new mum returns to work, and how bosses can support their female staff with breastfeeding and expressing milk.  

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Pregnancy can be a stressful enough time for any woman without them having to worry about dangers at work as well.  

“Bosses need to do far more to ensure expectant or new mums are safe at work. Too many are ignoring their legal duty to remove risks from the workplace.  

“I’d advise every pregnant woman or new mum to join a union. Workplaces that recognise unions are safer and have better policies in place to protect all their staff.”  

Rosalind Bragg, Director of Maternity Action, said: “We know from the women that call our advice line that too many employers are failing to take the health and safety of pregnant and breastfeeding women in the workplace seriously. 

“As a result, we know that many women end up having to choose between risking their own health or that of their baby, going off sick, or leaving their job altogether. 

“Union reps have an important role in holding employers to account and ensuring that pregnant women are protected from workplace hazards.”  Editors note

- Pregnancy and health and safety is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/PregnancyBreastfeedingHS.pdf

– The EHRC research on pregnancy discrimination is available at:  www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/mothers_report_-_bis-16-…

– The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Capita cock-up leaves 170 Barnet council employees out of pocket

Barnet Council’s embattled Capita contract suffered a further blow at a meeting of the Council’s Audit Committee last night (1 May), when it was revealed that 170 employees were incorrectly auto-enrolled onto the pension scheme and were paid less than they should have this week.

The accident occurred due to a technical glitch with the Capita HR system, which has long been a subject of concern to the council.

Labour’s Audit lead Cllr Alison Moore said:

“This is yet another shambles by Capita. Labour members successfully pressed for an apology to be sent to the affected staff, that no staff would be out-of-pocket and that Capita would bear any additional costs, but we have no faith in Capita systems whatsoever, and – as the meeting revealed – there appear to be severe weaknesses in their ability to test those systems before they install and operate them.”

The meeting contained an embarrassing double whammy for Capita, after the external Auditor informed the committee that Capita did not provide control reports, which is standard practice for outsourced services.

Labour Councillor Kathy Levine said:

“This is appalling. Given we had a major fraud last year, it is vital the council has a proper control environment. Not doing this means external auditors rely on the over stretched and under resourced internal audit team. Management control reports for various departments are actually a contractual obligation, which is a further outrage and begs the question about what else we are paying Capita to do that they aren’t.”

May Day 2019


EC1R 0DU nearest tube – Farringdon
assemble 12.00 – march leaves 13.00

Speakers include –



On the day when ordinary workers around the world celebrate their
solidarity and achievements, in our present political climate it is
important we re-assert the need for trade union rights and workers
protection. We also celebrate the real internationalism of workers
across the world facing the same big multinationals and financiers who
try to impose austerity and attack public services.
We stand with workers around the world and oppose those who seek
to divide us by skin colour or ethnic background. We win when we
stand together.


Support the Interserve Workers Strike Fund


PCS members at beleaguered contractor Interserve, working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will take strike action following the company’s refusal to negotiate with the union on redundancies, contractual changes to pay dates, and attacks on holiday pay and sick pay.

The strike action will take place on 1 and 2 May and members are angry at Interserve for making workers redundant, imposing detrimental changes and refusing to negotiate with PCS reps.

Cleaners at the company have raised concerns about unclear contracts, shortages in holiday pay and the lack of back pay from increases they were due from August 2018.

Our members working for Interserve provide services including facilities management, messengers, print room, porterage and cleaning in a number of government departments.

There has been mounting concern for the finances of the company since last year. However the government accepted a bid by Interserve to run FCO services in August 2018.

Powerful message

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is a powerful message that our members are sending. They will not stand by while a failing company like Interserve attacks their terms and conditions and at the same time, refuses to negotiate with the union.

“Staff have told us that changes to their pay dates have left them out of pocket and struggling to make ends meet.

“The whole debacle shows that Interserve should never have been awarded the contract at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“Ministers cannot escape their responsibility and they should have learned from the disaster at Carillion that contracting out doesn’t make sense financially.

“All these jobs at the FCO and elsewhere must be safeguarded and brought back in-house as soon as possible.”


Please find attached leaflet advertising an international protest that is taking place at the same time in many countries against Russia who continues to block efforts by trades unions for an international ban of asbestos.

While we in the U.K got imports of asbestos banned in our country in 1999, Russia continues with its deadly pollution of asbestos in other countries, particular in Asia.

Russia is the largest producer of asbestos, exporting 700,000 tonnes of it throughout the world.

Please support the protest which is being held on Wednesday 8 May 2019.

Social work staff in West Dunbartonshire vote overwhelmingly to strike

Social work staff in West Dunbartonshire have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action, claiming unsafe practices and unacceptable workloads are putting vulnerable people at risk.

UNISON announced the result of its consultative ballot today (Monday) which revealed a massive 92.3 per cent voted to take strike action. And 100 per cent of those who took part in the ballot voted in favour of action short of strike action. UNISON’s consultative ballot of Children and Families Social Work staff had a turnout of 87.8 per cent.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON regional organiser, said: “This is a phenomenal result and clearly illustrates the resolve of our members to stand up to unacceptable workloads and unsafe practices in West Dunbartonshire. This is about the safety of workers and vulnerable children and their families and our members are to be congratulated for taking a stand.”

UNISON will be meeting management tomorrow (Tuesday) and is calling for immediate action to put an end to short staffing, unacceptable workloads, unallocated cases and unsuitable arrangements for access meetings.

Simon continued: “Management must heed this crystal clear message from our members and we will not hesitate to move to a formal industrial action ballot to keep our members safe. This is the reality of needless austerity in 2019, workers at breaking point and at-risk children unsupported.

“We have raised our concerns beyond West Dunbartonshire and welcome that Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate and Lorraine Gray, chief executive of the Scottish Social Services Council, have both confirmed they are raising the matter with the council and the Health and Social Care Partnership. It is now time for the council administration and management to act and ensure the safety of workers, children and families.

For further information: Simon Macfarlane 07703 194132

The Future of Working Time: Organising and Strategy

OPEN INVITE              

The Future of Working Time: Organising and Strategy                        

Tuesday 7 May 2019                       

14:00 – 17:00                   

TUC Congress House

(Please Register – Eventbrite)

·     Join NEF and TUC on Tuesday 7 May from 2pm, for a participatory session on organising and campaigning around working time. Hear from experienced organisers and build strategy around:

–     Winning control over working hours: how do we organise against precarious and insecure forms of work?

–     Winning a shorter working week: why should we demand it and how do we get there?

·     This event is open to anyone who wants to develop their knowledge of these issues and build power in the workplace. We know the best ideas will come from the ground up, so come prepared to listen and share your experiences and ideas with others.

·     Full events details and registration HERE

·      For additional information, Kate Bell writes why trade unions are calling for a four-day week.

Barnet Council to pull out of major care homes contract after its failure to deliver adequate services

Barnet Council has publicly announced plans to pull out of a major contract which was responsible for delivering three key care homes – Meadowside, Apthorp Lodge and Dellfield Court. The provider of these services has begun to enter into TUPE consultations with a view to handing over its care homes to the 100% council owned company, Your Choice Barnet.

This follows a damning report issued by the Care Quality Commission into Apthorp Care Centre, in Brunswick Park, that Barnet published in January 23 2019, which deemed the service inadequate – and placed the care home into special measures. The report followed an unannounced inspection in December 2018.

The CQC report highlighted that the Centre was understaffed, saying that under-staffing levels had “a significant impact on people’s dignity. For example, we observed two people, on separate occasions, had soiled themselves and were walking through communal areas of the flats.” Fremantle has a poor record on ensuring staff and worker well being – having in the past proposed reducing care workers’ basic salary by 20-25%, bringing care worker pay down to well below the London Living Wage.

Adults and Social Care spokesperson for the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Reema Patel said,

“This sorry state of affairs illustrates two things. Firstly, the Council needs to urgently review its approach to securing high quality services that ensure worker well being. Secondly, it highlights the extent to which national cuts to social care funding are proving impossible to manage. We welcome the return of care homes to council control, but more is required – increased investment in social care funding in particular.”

For more information contact:

Cllr Reema Patel: 07398 220 745

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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