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10 Things To Do When Your Employee Tells You She Is Pregnant

Your employee announces that she is pregnant, after congratulating her, you wonder what your legal obligations are. Well wonder no further, here are ten things you must do to avoid any pregnancy discrimination allegations.  

1.    Comply with any company policies relating to pregnancy.

2.    Carry out a risk assessment to ascertain any risks to your employee’s health and safety or that of her child. Risks could be caused by: heavy lifting or carrying; standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks; exposure to toxic substances; or long working hours. If risks have been identified you must take reasonable steps to remove them or make alternative arrangements.

3.    Allow paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments during working hours without making her feel ‘guilty’. After your employee’s first appointment, you can ask to see her appointment card and a MATB1 certificate signed by the GP, midwife or health visitor. A MATB1 confirms the employee’s pregnancy and due date, and is usually issued 20 weeks before her baby is due.

4.    Ensure no disciplinary action is taken over pregnancy related illnesses i.e. morning sickness.

5.    The sick pay for pregnant employees must mirror that of non-pregnant employees (you must be careful when exercising your discretion).

6.    Ensure your employee is not treated unfairly or unfavourable, including by other colleagues.

7.    Explain to your employee that she needs to provide you with written notification of her pregnancy no later than the end of the 15th week before her Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC). This notification must expressly state that the employee is pregnant, her expected week of childbirth and the date on which she intends her maternity leave to start.

8.    Once you have received notice of the date the employee intends to start her maternity leave,you must notify her within 28 days, of the date on which her full maternity leave will end. The end of maternity leave is 52 weeks from the start of maternity leave (this includes ordinary and additional). Failure to provide the appropriate notice restricts you taking action (including disciplinary action) should the employee fail to return to work on time.

9.    The employee’s contractual terms during her maternity leave will continue, this includes her entitlement to annual leave. Therefore it is good practice for you to work out accrued annual leave for the current holiday year prior to the employee leaving for maternity leave and discuss how she would like to take her leave.

10.  Finally, ensure she is kept up-to-date with organisational changes including redundancies, restructures and new job opportunities in their departments during her maternity leave.

Please note that the Shared Parental Leave rights are available to all parents with children born after 5 April 2015, therefore the additional curveball which you may face is having to consider the concept of sharing her leave entitlements with her partner.

If you are dealing with a pregnant employee or an employee who has requested shared parental leave and you don’t know what to do then please get in touch at samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk or on 01133 50 40 30.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment and litigation law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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