Protecting the Pregnant Employee
An Employer's Responsibilities
When you learn that an employee is pregnant, as an employer, legislation places a number of responsibilities on you. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 – 2004 apply. This article examines how you can ensure that your employee who is pregnant, breastfeeding or has recently given birth is removed from any workplace risk which may affect her health or safety.
What should I do when I receive a medical certificate that an employee is pregnant?
The Safety,Health and Welfare at Work (Pregnant Employees) Regulations places an obligation on an employer to assess any risk to the safety or health of any pregnant employee, an employee who is breastfeeding or who has recently given birth.
You should therefore identify any tasks or workplace environment which may pose a risk. This includes bullying, harassment, stress, as well as the physical hazards, and physical tasks such as excessive lifting etc.
This assessment should be reviewed at regular intervals.
Consider changing the work routine to facilitate rest periods, if possible. Rest facilities must be provided by law.
You can download the Health and Safety Authority's Guidance Document -
Part 6: Protection of Pregnant, Post Natal and Breastfeeding Employees here ;
You can download the Health and Safety Authority's
Pregnancy risk assessment template form here;
What if I cannot remove the risk factors?
Consider offering alternative work to the employee. If this is not possible then the question of Health and Safety Leave arises. The employer must pay the employee's full wages for twenty one days. These 21 days can be broken into several shorter periods. The employee is entitled to a health and safety leave certificate. This certificate must outline the reasons why the employee has been given leave. It must state the date on which the leave began and the expected duration.
If the employee has sufficient prsi contributions they may be entitled to receive Health and Safety Benefit after the 21 day period has elapsed.
Where can I find out more information on Health and Safety Leave?
You can download The Equality Authority's Guide to the Maternity Acts 1994 – 2004 Guide to the Maternity Protection Acts, Download here
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