I thought the title of my first blog post was apt because, well it’s the beginning of my blogging journey. With this site I hope to be able to share my knowledge of employment law, employee rights as well as my own experience with anyone who is:
b. A parent/parent to be
c. Remotely interested
First things first then, you’ve had those two important lines pop up. (Maybe more than once if you are like me and insisted on doing at last 5 tests each time just to ‘make sure’). You’re delirious with happiness, whilst simultaneously panicking about how you will cope. You are already dreaming of baby names and looking at the cute baby clothes in Next and then, oh… Yeah. Work.
Being pregnant whilst working is hard. For many reasons. Obviously a biggie is the fact that in the beginning, you are feeling pretty ropey to say the least. I actually remember running to the loo mid-meeting to gag because someone had selfishly fired up the coffee machine (seriously, the pregnancy/coffee aversion really was quite a thing for me). However it can also be difficult if you are unsure of your rights as a pregnant employee. Obviously there is a lot that will depend of your contract, the type of contract you have and how long you’ve been employed. But there is some stuff that is all encompassing. For everyone.
Time off for antenatal appointments
Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal appointments. Whilst this doesn’t include the obligatory trip to Mothercare immediately proceeding your 20 week scan to stock up on the all important pink or blue (or yellow, or grey or green – gender neutral and all that) it does include travel time. Or sitting in the waiting room nervously twiddling your thumbs waiting to be called in, time. There is a cap at 6.5 hours but unless you’re planning to fly to LA for specialist consultant care that you saw on the Kardashians, this should cover it.
Fathers are also now entitled to time off, however this is unpaid.
Its worth noting that this time off, as long as on medical advice, can cover things such as relaxation classes, aqua natal, yoga etc (I know right, who knew?)
Telling your employer
By law, you need to pluck up the courage to tell your boss you’re pregnant no later than the 15th week before your baby is due. So basically 25 weeks pregnant. It’s important that you do this if you are wishing to take maternity leave and/or claim Statutory Maternity Pay (more about this to follow in a separate post).
Obviously if you are like me and look about 6 months pregnant at 6 weeks, you may not be able to style it out this long. However most employees in my experience do wait until the all important 12 week scan.
Pregnancy related sickness
If you can’t drag your head out of the toilet to make it into work- fear not! Any sickness which is related to your pregnancy must be recorded separately by your employer from other sick leave and cannot not be used to count towards sickness triggers or disciplinary action. One thing worth noting though, is if you are off due to pregnancy related sickness in the 4 weeks prior to your due date, your employer can make you start your maternity leave early.
Once you have informed your employer of your pregnancy, they have a duty to carry out a risk assessment to ensure the safety of you and your baby in your working environment. Risks may include; heavy lifting, standing for long periods, exposure to toxic substances or long working hours. If risks are highlighted then an employer should take reasonable (there’s that word again) steps to remove them. If risks cannot be removed then suitable alternative work should be offered. Last resort would be to suspend you on full pay if no alternative can be found, but in my experience, this rarely happens as employers would much rather their employees get paid to do something, rather than sit at home eating their body weight in chocolate, watching back to back Teen Mom OG*.
When you choose to finish work will probably depend on a number of things. Firstly the type of job you have. My role largely involved sitting at a desk, talking on the phone and waddling to meetings and seeing as I had two ‘spirited’ children at home, I made the sensible decision to stay at work as long as possible! However if you are on your feet for hours and hours each day, you don’t have any rugrats waiting at home to ebb the last few kilowatts of energy out of you, well hey you might want to finish earlier. Anytime from the 11th week prior to your due date (aka week 29 of pregnancy) is a goer.
I will follow this post with a separate one with a more in-depth look at maternity leave (I know right, don’t get too excited now), so if there is anything in particular that you would like including, please do let me know via the contact form!
Much love and thanks for taking the time to read!
*Or any other box set. I absolutely have not used this example based on my own experience. Obviously.