The TUC and Maternity Action have today (Wednesday) warned that
employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work.
TUC and Maternity Action have today (Wednesday) warned that employers
are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work.
organisations have published new guidance which details steps
bosses should be taking to keep female staff safe during and
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.
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:
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.
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 in pregnancy can be damaging. Stress has been linked to poorer
pregnancy health and possible developmental problems in babies.
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
“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.”
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
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.
reps have an important role in holding employers to account and
ensuring that pregnant women are protected from workplace hazards.”
- 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-…
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