If you or your partner is pregnant you need to know what is going to happen with your income. Read our comprehensive guide to pregnancy and employment.

Working whilst pregnant is difficult enough without the pressure of your financial stability hanging over your family. Luckily, the UK has a wide range of pregnant employee rights that encompass all stages of pregnancy.

The employment laws to be aware of as a pregnant staff member

This guide outlines the main legal rights that pregnant employees hold, so you don’t have to worry any longer. However, the pregnant employee should note that they must inform their employer about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks prior to the due date.

Or, if the employee did not know about the pregnancy until after that point, they have to tell their employer as soon as possible.

Antenatal care

Antenatal care, otherwise known as pregnancy care, is the healthcare and general support a pregnant person receives in the months before birth. This encompasses all necessary treatment, assessments and educational sessions. As such, this will also include all training or parental classes; the only requirement is that a doctor or midwife must agree that they are essential.

Access to antenatal care is a legal right of a pregnant person. Therefore, employers must allow a pregnant person to go to any and every antenatal care recommended by a doctor or midwife.

For this, the employer must give the pregnant person time off with the normal rate of pay. Furthermore, this right extends to the partner of a pregnant person for two antenatal appointments, although it is unpaid.

Maternity leave and pay

A pregnant person has the legal right to statutory maternity leave. If they choose not to take statutory leave, they must take compulsory maternity leave after the birth of the baby. This is a compulsory paid leave of 2 weeks, or 4 weeks if the pregnant person works in a factory.

For more details on maternity leave, including what happens with pregnancy-related illnesses, read our dedicated guide.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

A pregnant person is protected from discrimination in a number of ways.

First and foremost, an employer cannot dismiss or not offer a job to a person because they are pregnant or on maternity leave. This does not mean that a person who is pregnant or on maternity cannot be dismissed, but that the employers must give them other reasons in writing.

In turn, to avoid any other forms of discrimination, the related laws prevent the employer from changing the employees pay whilst pregnant or on maternity leave. Furthermore, the employer cannot change the agreement made with the pregnant person in regards to when they will take maternity leave and when they will return.

Health and safety

An employer must extend any health and safety precautions, should there be any hazards that pose a risk to the baby. These include heavy lifting, going long periods without adequate breaks, being exposed to toxic substances or working long hours.

The employer must take all reasonable steps to remove any hazards. If the employee becomes unable to carry out their job because of the risks, they must be suspended on full pay.