Pregnancy Rights at Work
In order to protect your employment legal rights as a pregnant employee, you should tell your employer in writing that you’re pregnant as soon as possible, and no later than 15 weeks before you expect to give birth.
This ensures that you benefit from extra legal rights and protections throughout your pregnancy, and that your employer gives proper consideration to their extra responsibilities.
For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Law Solicitors.
What Should I Tell My Employer?
You should tell your employer that you’re expecting a baby, what week you’re expecting to give birth, and when you’re planning to go on maternity leave (not more than 11 weeks before you expect to give birth).
You don’t have to tell your employer that you’re pregnant until 15 weeks before you’re expecting to give birth. However, you won’t benefit from your full legal rights (as outlined below) until your employer is aware that you’re pregnant. Therefore, to protect your rights, it’s advisable to inform your employer as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
If you tell your employer that you’re pregnant within 15 weeks of the expected week of childbirth, you may not qualify for some of your maternity leave. You have to take two weeks’ maternity leave after giving birth and if you don’t comply with the 15-week notice period without good reason, you won’t qualify for some or all of the leave you’d get otherwise.
Furthermore, certain legal protections don’t take effect unless you notify your employer in writing, so it’s advisable that you do so.
Pregnancy Rights at Work
If you’re pregnant, you have additional rights and responsibilities that your employer will need to consider.
Your key rights are:
- Paid time off for antenatal appointments
- Health and safety protection while pregnant, and while breastfeeding, including:
- Risk assessment to ensure safety whilst pregnant
- Altered work hours or conditions for safety reasons
- Offer of suitable alternative work or suspension on full pay if you reasonably refuse an alternative role
- Entitlement to one year's statutory maternity leave, regardless of your length of service.
- Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks, as long as you have 41 continuous weeks of employment by the time you expect to give birth (i.e. 26 continuous weeks of employment at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth)
- The right to return to the same job
- Priority for alternative employment in redundancy cases
- The right to request flexible working conditions on return to work
- Protection from dismissal, disadvantage or discrimination by reason of pregnancy or maternity
- Agency workers will qualify for time off for antenatal appointments (after 12 weeks), protection from discrimination, and entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay
- Other non-employees will also qualify for protection from discrimination provided they fall within the wider definition of employment in the Equality Act 2010.
You have these extra legal rights and protection from when you become pregnant and your employer is made aware. The protection period generally ends at the end of maternity leave or when you return to work after your pregnancy.
For more information see Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination at Work.
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