Pregnant employees can continue to work the average 40 hours a week in the UK or the hours that they were working previously, before they became pregnant. However, pregnant employees should only continue working these hours if it is safe to do so. Therefore, employers have the responsibility to ensure that pregnant employees can safely continue to work their specified hours, if they can’t, the employer must initiate appropriate changes.
If you continue to work whilst pregnant, your employer has the responsibility to conduct a risk assessment which will analyse whether you are fit to work whilst pregnant. If your job role involves standing or sitting for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects, exposure to radiation or toxic substances, it could affect your health. Therefore, the employer must make an important decision to decide whether it is appropriate for a pregnant employee to continue working their designated hours.
Working long hours whilst pregnant
Employers are not required to reduce working hours below 40 hours a week, which is the average number of hours to work a week in the UK. Therefore, pregnant women can work 40 hours a week if the working conditions are safe for them to do so.
If a pregnant employee begins to work over 40 hours a week and is subject to a lot of stress, it could be harmful to their health and the health of their unborn child. If a pregnant employee’s physical or mental health is declining due to the number of hours which they are working, or the conditions they are working in, something must be changed.
If you have concerns regarding the number of hours which you are working or the conditions which you are working in, it is important to voice these concerns to you midwife or GP. They will be able to identify whether your working hours are having a negative effect on your health.
Therefore, if as a pregnant woman you are going to continue working for 40 hours a week, you must ensure you do so safely, with your physical and emotional health in mind.
Time off for antenatal care
A pregnant employee is entitled to paid time off for antenatal care, this could be an appointment with their midwife or parental classes which have been advised. The partner of the mother is entitled to paid time off to attend two antenatal appointments.
Working hours and stress
The Amsterdam Born Children and the Development research group found that stress can have negative effects on your unborn child. According to research, the stress hormone increases the level of cortisol in a mother, which can increase the risk of complicated health problems. Therefore, if working long hours is resulting in stress, then it is important to discuss with your employer how you can stop this.
If you feel that you are significantly stressed due to your workload or the hours that you have been working, then it is important to seek advice and speak to your employer regarding ways to improve this.