The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently updated its guidance, following advice from the TUC, making it clear that employers must carry out individual risk assessments for pregnant workers and new mothers.
You can find the revised HSE guidance here.
The HSE’s guidance makes clear that employers have a legal responsibility to consider risks to pregnant women, new mothers and women of childbearing age in their general workplace risk assessments.
Once an employer is informed that a worker is pregnant, is breastfeeding, or has given birth within the last six months, the employer must carry out an individual risk assessment.
In carrying out the individual risk assessment an employer must:
- review their existing general risk management and controls for pregnant workers and new mothers
- talk to the worker to see if there are any conditions or circumstances with their pregnancy that could affect their work
- discuss any concerns they have about how their work could affect their pregnancy
- consult with their safety representative or trade union if they have one and
- take account of any medical recommendations provided by their doctor or midwife.
The guidance also makes clear that employers should review the individual risk assessment as the pregnancy progresses, or if there are any significant changes to a workers' activity or workplace.
Employers are legally required to reduce or remove risks to a pregnant woman’s health. If this can’t be done, then the woman has a right to be offered suitable alternative work, on the same rate of pay, or to have her working conditions adjusted. If none of these measures are possible, she should be suspended on full pay, based on her usual earnings, until the risk is gone.
The HSE guidance now makes clear what pregnant workers’ and new mums’ health and safety rights are and what employers must do to protect them in the workplace.
First published 10 June 2022