Employer requirements and working hours for pregnant workers and new mothers

Understand what your employer should do and how working hours can impact on you as a new or expectant mother

Lots can be done to mitigate the risks for pregnant workers and new mothers

What your employer must do

Your employer has an obligation to assess the risks to you at the workplace and to protect you from them. 

Assessing the risks

All employers should conduct a general workplace risk assessment, which includes assessing the risks to women of childbearing age. If there are any hazards, they should be removed or reduced.

You are not legally obliged to inform your employer that you are pregnant, have given birth in the past six months or are breastfeeding. But if do you so, in writing, they must conduct a more detailed individual risk assessment in consultation with you. 

(This is the case if you are an employee or an agency or temporary worker. It also applies if you a transgender man, a non-binary or intersex person or have variations in sex characteristics.)

Once your employer has been notified, they must:

  • review their existing general risk management and controls for pregnant workers and new mothers
  • talk to you to see if there are any conditions or circumstances with your pregnancy that could affect your work
  • discuss any concerns you have about how your work could affect your pregnancy
  • consult with your safety rep or other CSP representative
  • take account of any medical recommendations provided by your doctor or midwife.

Your CSP safety rep in your workplace can support you and ensure the risk assessment process is properly undertaken.

More information on your rights is available from the Health and Safety Executive.

Protecting you from risks

If any risks are identified in your individual risk assessment, your employer must take the following steps:

  1. If possible, remove the risk.
  2. If the risk cannot be removed, provide adjustments to your working conditions or hours of work.
  3. If sufficient adjustments are not possible, provide you with suitable alternative work on the same terms and conditions.
  4. If this is not possible, suspend you from work on paid leave. This should be for as long as necessary to protect your health and safety or that of your child.
  5. Monitor and review these actions on a regular basis.

If no risks are identified in the individual risk assessment, your employer should regularly monitor and review the situation.

Your working hours

Hospital covered in snow

Night work and long working hours are recognised as a risk to new and expectant mothers.

Check whether your employer has a policy on this, or ask your CSP safety rep or steward.

In any case, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have given birth in the past six months, you can insist on being suspended from night work on full pay. For this you would need to obtain a signed certificate from a medical practitioner or midwife stating that this needs to be done in the interests of health and safety.

NHS employers are advised to offer alternatives such as suitable daytime work, but this must be on the same terms and conditions.

Another option to avoid night shifts and/or long working hours is to make a request for a different working pattern under flexible working legislation. Find out more about flexible working in our building a better balance toolkit.

Last reviewed: