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Topic: Work and parents

letter discussing removal of health risks during pregnancy
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Letter discussing removal of health risks during pregnancy

Letter discussing removal of health risks during pregnancy

If your risk assessment identifies health and safety risks for a pregnant employee, use our letter to arrange a meeting with her to discuss removing or reducing those risks. If that proves not to be possible, the next stages to consider are temporarily altering the employee's working conditions or hours of work, offering her any available suitable alternative work or suspending her from work on full pay.

Risk management

Special duties to protect the health and safety of your pregnant employees apply under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The law effectively requires you to go through the following stages:

  1. Assess the workplace health and safety risks posed to expectant and new mothers and their babies from any processes, working conditions or physical, biological or chemical agents and take any measures needed to address those risks.
  2. Temporarily alter the employee’s working conditions or hours of work to avoid any risks if the measures that you’ve already taken don’t avoid them for your particular employee.
  3. Where it’s not reasonable for you to alter the employee’s working conditions or hours, or where doing so wouldn’t avoid the risk, offer her suitable alternative work (if any is available) on terms which are not substantially less favourable (see Offer of Suitable Alternative Work during Pregnancy).
  4. Where there’s no suitable alternative work available, suspend the employee on full pay (see Letter Suspending an Employee during Pregnancy).

It might be the case that you can deal with the risks at Stage 1, meaning you then don’t need to consider Stages 2 to 4, but you will always need to move to the next stage if the risks can’t be adequately addressed by the current stage, or if taking the measure at the current stage just isn’t feasible.

Risk assessment

The first stage requires you to carry out a risk assessment of the risks to expectant and new mothers. This can be covered in your general workplace risk assessment, but it’s preferable to have a specific, separate one for the pregnant employee and her particular job role, as that way it should help you to identify any workplace hazards that could be a risk to her and to decide if additional action needs to be taken. If any health and safety risks are identified in the risk assessment, you then need to do what you can to either remove or significantly reduce those risks. This is where our Letter Discussing Removal of Health Risks during Pregnancy comes in. Its purpose is to arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss the risk assessment with her and to consider what suitable measures you could take to remove or reduce the risks. Do provide the employee with a copy of the risk assessment so that you can have an open discussion.

Next stages

If it’s not possible for you to identify ways of removing or reducing the risks, the next stage is to consider temporarily altering the employee’s working conditions or hours of work. So, your meeting can discuss that option too and indeed our letter refers to this as a possible action. If that still doesn’t avoid the risks or isn’t reasonable, you’ll then have to consider offering the employee suitable alternative work. Again, be ready to discuss this at the meeting if necessary. Whilst this would be a temporary measure, it might need to be in place for the remainder of her pregnancy until she goes on maternity leave. The ultimate stage, where all else fails, is to suspend the employee from work on full pay.

 

 

 

 

 

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