Can an employer offer a new mother less money for alternative work where she cannot do her normal job because of the risks involved?

A new mother, ie a woman who has given birth within the last six months or is breastfeeding, is entitled to be offered any suitable alternative work that exists if she is unable to perform her normal job because of the risks to her health and safety, and an adjustment to her working conditions or hours would not address those risks.

The alternative work must be suitable for the employee and appropriate in the circumstances, and, if the terms and conditions, including the overall level of pay, are not the same as those for her regular job, they must "not be substantially less favourable" (s.67(2)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996). In British Airways (European Operations at Gatwick) Ltd v Moore and Botterill [2000] IRLR 296 EAT, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the terms and conditions of pregnant cabin crew who were carrying out alternative employment on the ground were substantially less favourable because the employees were no longer entitled to a flying allowance, a considerable part of which represented profit. Therefore, an employer should consider offering a new mother a compensatory package for any variable element of her normal pay if she is offered alternative work due to the health and safety risks of her normal job.

If there is no suitable alternative work available, a new mother should be suspended from work and paid her normal salary. The employer should keep the suspension under review.