The Royal College of Midwives has advised pregnant workers who cannot work from home of their rights and employers’ duties during the pandemic.
The RCM, supported by trade union legal firm Thompsons, says:
- Pregnant women under 28 weeks’ gestation, with no underlying health conditions, should only continue attending the workplace if the risk assessment advises that it is safe for them to do so. This means that if employers are fully compliant with requirements around pregnant workers, specifically the need to undertake risk assessments and make suitable adjustments, then these workers should be able to continue attending a workplace. However, if it is not possible to remove or manage the risks, then these people should be offered suitable alternative work (including working from home) or suspended on their normal pay.
- For those who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, or with underlying health conditions at any gestation, they should not work in any public-facing roles. Where employers are unable to redeploy them and make arrangements to keep them safe, and where it is impossible for these workers to work from home, then they will need to be suspended on normal pay.
It concludes: “Our occupational health advice was written for implementation at the peak of the pandemic, when the clear instruction from government was that vulnerable individuals, including pregnant people, should stringently apply socially distancing measures and that extremely clinically vulnerable individuals were advised to shield. There is now a more complex landscape of factors to consider, not least of which is that the implementation of social distancing measures and of other restrictions now varies across UK countries and increasingly, between different employment sectors.
“Nevertheless, the clinical information on which our advice is based still stands, as does the fundamental responsibility on employers to protect the health and safety of pregnant individuals who are working. Following news of the latest lockdown, it is timely to remind pregnant women of their rights and employers of their obligations to their pregnant workers.”
The RCM is a trade union that represents Midwives, student Midwives and Maternity Support Workers. We believe that, as midwifery professionals, their advice should be followed by all employers. It would be difficult for any employer to argue that it understands the risks of Covid to pregnant workers better than the RCM.