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

An employee who is a new mother, ie has given birth within the last six months or is breastfeeding, is entitled to be offered any suitable alternative work that exists if they are unable to perform their normal job because of the risks to their health, and an adjustment to their 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 their 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 their normal pay if they are offered alternative work due to the health and safety risks of their normal job.

If there is no suitable alternative work available, the employer should suspend the employee from work and paid their normal salary. The employer should keep the suspension under review.