Pregnancy and baby

Work and pregnancy

If you work with chemicals, lead or X-rays, or in a job with a lot of lifting, you may be risking your and your baby's health. If you have any worries about this, talk to your doctor, midwife, occupational health nurse, union representative, or someone in the personnel department where you work.

If there's a known and recognised risk, it may be illegal for you to continue to work. In this case, your employer must offer you suitable alternative work on the same terms and conditions as your original job.

If no safe alternative is available, your employer should suspend you on full pay (give you paid leave) for as long as necessary to avoid the risk. If your employer fails to pay you during your suspension, you can bring a claim in an employment tribunal (within three months). This would not affect your maternity pay or maternity leave.

Read more about the potential harmful effects of X-rays in pregnancy.

Some women are concerned about reports of the effects of computer screens in pregnancy. The most recent research shows no evidence of a risk from visual display units (VDUs) on computers.

Coping at work in pregnancy

You might get more tired than usual, particularly in the first few and last few weeks of pregnancy. Try to use your lunch break to eat and rest, not to do the shopping. If travelling in rush hour is exhausting, ask your employer if you can work slightly different hours for a while.

Don't rush home and start another job cleaning and cooking. If possible, ask your partner or a member of your family to do it. If you're on your own, keep housework to a minimum and go to bed early if you can.

Read more about tiredness in pregnancy.

If you’re at work during pregnancy, you need to know your rights to antenatal care, maternity leave and benefits. GOV.UK has more information on working in pregnancy, including your right to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care.

Read more articles about workplace health, including bullying at work and how to sit at a desk properly.


Page last reviewed: 29/01/2013

Next review due: 29/01/2015

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