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Rights during Pregnancy

When must I tell my employer that I am pregnant?

There is no legal requirement for an expectant mother to inform her employer of her pregnancy. However, there are several good reasons for ensuring that your employer is informed in writing at an early stage. Notably, the Burgundy Book requires that expectant mother's give 14 weeks notice of the expected week of birth, unless there is some good cause not to do so. Furthermore, part of the requirements of the occupational maternity pay scheme require not less than 21 days notice of intention to begin maternity leave (unless leave is triggered by some other means, such as illness or birth).

Am I entitled to an additional risk assessment?

As soon as you inform your employer in writing that you are pregnant, there is a responsibility on the employer to carry out a specific risk assessment  for you. This should identify any risks which occur in your work which might affect the health or wellbeing of you or your baby, and can include matters such as working conditions and stress loads. This requirement is specific to the individual and is in addition to any other whole-school risk assessment for employees, including general risk assessments for expectant or new mothers.

What should a risk assessment include?

A risk assessment carried out for an expectant mother should address any risks which might be present in the role which might affect the health or wellbeing of either mother or unborn baby. It must also take into account any issues specific to your own situation, such as medical conditions or history of difficulties in pregnancy. You are entitled to see the outcome of the risk assessment process.

Once the risk assessment has been carried out, any risks should be addressed by making suitable changes to your working conditions or requirements to reduce the risk.

What are my rights regarding ante-natal care?

Expectant mothers are entitled to any necessary time off work, with pay, to attend ante-natal appointments as advised by a GP, midwife or health visitor. There is no limit to the number of appointments. Your employer may ask for proof of your attendance at such appointments, through either an appointment card or some other document. This does not apply to a first appointment, which can be without evidence. 
There is no right for your employer to determine the time at which you take this leave -it must be granted wherever a medical professional has advised your attendance.

What are my rights regarding rest time and space?

Your employer has a duty to ensure that you are not put at risk during your pregnancy. This includes ensuring that you are able to take breaks when necessary, including the need for additional drink and toilet breaks during pregnancy. This should be covered as part of the risk assessment process.
Employers must also ensure that there is an area for pregnant women to rest, and in which to eat. For most schools, the staffroom will suffice for this purpose.

Further information

The Health & Safety Executive produces a guide for expectant and new mothers, available at: