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Work and pregnancy

Your rights at work while you're pregnant

If you're working while you're pregnant, you need to know your rights to antenatal care, maternity leave and benefits.

If you have any worries about your health while at work, talk to your doctor, midwife or occupational health nurse. You can also talk to your employer, union representative, or someone in the personnel department (HR) where you work.

Once you tell your employer that you're pregnant, they should do a risk assessment with you to see if your job poses any risks to you or your baby. If there are any risks, they have to make reasonable adjustments to remove them. This can include changing your working hours.

If you work with chemicals, lead or X-rays, or in a job with a lot of lifting, it may be illegal for you to continue to work. Your employer must offer you alternative work on the same terms and conditions as your original job.

If there's no safe alternative, your employer should suspend you on full pay (give you paid leave) for as long as necessary to avoid the risk. In this case, your employer can start your maternity leave 4 weeks before your due date.

If your employer fails to pay you during your suspension, you can bring a claim in an employment tribunal (within 3 months). This wouldn't affect your maternity pay or maternity leave.

Find out more about maternity pay and leave on the GOV.UK website

You may worry about using computer screens in pregnancy. But the most recent research shows no evidence of a risk to your baby or pregnancy from visual display units (VDUs) on computers.

GOV.UK, Citizens Advice and Maternity Action have more information on pregnant employees' rights, including your right to paid time off for antenatal care and what to do if you feel you're being treated unfairly.

Coping with pregnancy symptoms at work

You might get more tired than usual, particularly in the first and last few weeks of pregnancy.

Try to use your lunch break to eat and rest. Your employer may also need to give you extra breaks. 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 friend, partner or a member of your family to help you.

Read more about tiredness in pregnancy.

If you're struggling with nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), you might be finding it hard at work.

You can ask your employer about working slightly different hours to avoid times when you feel worse, or working from home on days when the morning sickness is bad.

Speak to a GP or midwife if you feel particularly bad or unwell.

Read more about vomiting and morning sickness.

Page last reviewed: 17 January 2024
Next review due: 17 January 2027