Pregnant women and new mothers in schools

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently updated its guidance, following advice from the TUC, making it clear that employers, including schools, must carry out individual risk assessments for pregnant women and new mothers.

You can find the revised HSE guidance here.

The revised HSE guidance makes it clear that employers have a legal responsibility to consider risks to pregnant women, new mothers and women of childbearing age in their general workplace risk assessments.

Once an employer is informed that a worker is pregnant, is breastfeeding, or has given birth within the last six months, then the employer must carry out an individual risk assessment.

Carrying out a Risk Assessment

In carrying out the individual risk assessment an employer must:

  • Review their existing general risk management and controls for pregnant women and new mothers
  • Talk to the member of staff to see if there are any conditions or circumstances with their pregnancy that could affect their work
  • Discuss any concerns they have about how their work could affect their pregnancy
  • Consult with their school safety representative or trade union if they have one
  • Take account of any medical recommendations provided by their GP or midwife.

The guidance also makes it clear that employers should review the individual risk assessment as the pregnancy progresses or if there are any significant changes at work, such as types of work required, location of work, working hours etc.

Employers, including schools, are legally required to reduce or remove risks to a pregnant woman’s health. If this cannot be done, then someone who is pregnant has the right to be offered suitable alternative work, on the same rate of pay, or to have their working conditions adjusted. If none of these measures are possible, the school may need to consider suspending the member of staff on medical grounds, on full pay, until the risk has been satisfactorily mitigated or removed altogether.

The HSE guidance now makes it clear what pregnant women and new mums’ health and safety rights are and what employers must do to protect them at work.

More detailed information on the management of risk assessments for pregnant women and new mothers can be found here.

And finally, more information on rest breaks and breastfeeding at work can be found here.

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