What obligations does an employer have to pregnant employees during the coronavirus crisis?

Where an employee is pregnant, the government guidance is that they should be especially diligent about social distancing. The employer should consult the employee about the options and should support them to work from home where possible.

Where it is not possible for a pregnant employee to work from home, employers should consider their duties under health and safety legislation. The employer should carry out a risk assessment, taking into account the extent to which it is possible for the employee to follow the social distancing guidelines, for example by avoiding the use of public transport at peak times and staying 2m away from others wherever possible. Where a risk is identified, the employer must take steps to control, reduce or remove it, by:

  • temporarily altering the employee's working conditions or hours of work; or (if that is not reasonable)
  • offering them suitable alternative work; or (if none is available)
  • suspending them from work on full pay for as long as necessary to avoid the risk.

An employee's maternity leave will be triggered if they are absent from work for a pregnancy-related reason, including a suspension on health and safety grounds, in the four-week period before their expected week of childbirth.