Bosses discriminate against pregnant workers — know your rights!

Some unscrupulous bosses are using the pandemic to discriminate against pregnant women.

The BBC website (10.5.) reported one 16-week pregnant care assistant was ″given permission″ by her employer to stop work (in line with advice from her midwife) but was told this would either be unpaid leave, or she might get sick pay if she was given a sick note by her doctor. But she is not sick, she′s pregnant! Her and her partner have now had to arrange a mortgage payment.

Health and safety law states that if there are any risks to an expectant mother employers must make adjustments to work, offer alternative work or arrange paid leave.

Another employer asked a healthcare assistant to take maternity leave just 12 weeks into her pregnancy thus she will lose out on maternity leave after her baby is born.

Employers are refusing to furlough pregnant workers on zero-hours contracts although they can claim relief for furloughing employees on any kind of contract.

Pregnant workers can be at greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19, are included in the government list of clinically vulnerable people and many will have had a shielding letter from the NHS.

These bosses are acting unlawfully in this discrimination, causing distress and hardship at a particularly vulnerable time for many women. Some bosses claim a lack of clear guidance from the government, but this information is available online, and many of these employers include large firms, and even the NHS. There is no excuse!

If you are pregnant, these are your rights:

• Pregnant women can be furloughed, subject to agreement and depending on the employment contract, but should not be furloughed just because they are pregnant

• If you’re getting Maternity Allowance while you’re on maternity leave, you cannot get furlough pay at the same time.

• If you have agreed to be put on furlough, you must contact Jobcentre Plus to stop your Maternity Allowance payments.

• The UK Government has passed a law to ensure that, for furloughed workers whose paternity or maternity leave begins on or after the 25 April, the “earnings test” will take into account the person’s usual wages not their furloughed wages.

• The UK Government states you can be furloughed on any type of contract, including a zero hours contract.

• If you were made redundant or stopped working for your employer after 28 February 2020, your employer can agree to re-employ you and place you on furlough.

• When an employee provides written notification to her employer stating that she is pregnant, the employer should immediately take into account any risks identified in their workplace risk assessment.

If the risk cannot be removed employers are required to:

• Temporarily adjust her working conditions and/or hours of work; or if that is not possible

• Offer her suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay) if available, or if that is not feasible

• Suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as necessary, to protect her health and safety and that of her child.

More information and help:

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