Have you’ve just found out your pregnant? Are you nervous about telling your boss because you don’t know your rights yet? Here are some answers to questions you might have about how your pregnancy will affect you at work and what your rights are as an employee.
You probably know that you have the right to maternity leave and maternity pay or allowance. But, you also have the right to paid time off to go to antenatal classes.
As soon as you become pregnant you are protected against discrimination from the beginning of your pregnancy until you return work after your baby is born. That means you can tell your boss straightaway if you want to. If you don’t want to tell anyone at work immediately, you don’t have to. You can wait until 15 weeks before the week the baby is due.
Your company must make sure that you have the right amount of time off for antenatal classes or if you’re ill, they must pay you maternity pay and assess health and safety risks.
If you work in an environment that might be a risk to your unborn baby, for example, you work with chemicals; your boss must find you alternative work or remove the risk. You can stay at home on full pay if your boss is unable to move the risk or give you another job to do while you are pregnant.
Your boss must assess the risks to you at work from long working hours, standing for lengthy periods or carrying and lifting heavy objects. Your company needs to take appropriate action to ensure that you and your baby are not put at risk.
If you are entitled to maternity leave you can take up to 52 weeks off if you choose. You’ll get 90% of your weekly wage before tax for the first six weeks and then for 33 weeks you will get 90% of your weekly wage or £140.98 (you get the lower amount). After that any leave, you take between 39 weeks and 52 weeks is unpaid, but you can still have this time at home.
When you get back to work your terms and conditions should be the same as they were before you became pregnant. If for example, you took 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave you should walk straight back into your job as it was before. If you took more than 26 weeks off you should return to work with a similar job.
If you find things have changed without your consent you can take action against the company for unfair discrimination. If you are sacked or made redundant during your pregnancy the company you work for must be able to prove that their decision had nothing to do with you being pregnant. Have a look at the Citizen’s Advice website for more detailed information on pregnancy and maternity discrimination.