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Topic: Work and parents

offer of suitable alternative work during pregnancy
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Offer of suitable alternative work during pregnancy

Offer of suitable alternative work during pregnancy

If, for health and safety reasons, a pregnant employee or an employee who has recently given birth cannot continue to perform her normal job duties, you are obliged to offer her suitable alternative employment, if available.

Risk assessment

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you’re required to assess workplace health and safety risks posed to new and expectant mothers and their babies where you employ women of child-bearing age if the work is of a kind which could involve special risk to them, by reason of their condition, from any processes, working conditions or physical, biological or chemical agents - this is a general workplace risk assessment. Furthermore, once an employee gives you written notice that she’s pregnant, has given birth within the last six months or is breastfeeding, you must check your risk assessment to see if any new risks have arisen which are specific to the individual employee, so it’s preferable to have a specific, separate risk assessment for the 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 to avoid those risks, such as by altering her working conditions or hours of work. If altering working conditions or hours of work is not reasonable or would not avoid the risk, you must offer her suitable alternative work if available or, as a last resort, suspend her on pay.

Suitable alternative work

Where a pregnant employee is incapable of performing her normal job duties because of the risks to her health, and where it is not reasonable for you to change her working conditions or hours of work to remove those risks (or the changes would not avoid the risks), you must offer her a temporary transfer to an alternative job, if available. The alternative job must be suitable in relation to the employee, which means work that is appropriate for her to do in the circumstances and on terms and conditions that are substantially no less favourable than those of her normal, permanent job, i.e. on the same pay, etc. Use our Offer of Suitable Alternative Work during Pregnancy to make an offer of temporary employment to an employee on health and safety grounds. As stated above, note that the same rules also apply where the employee has recently given birth or is breastfeeding.

Tribunal complaint

If you fail to offer an employee suitable alternative work which is available, she can complain to an employment tribunal, which has the power to award compensation of such amount as is just and equitable having regard to the infringement of the employee’s right and to any loss which she has sustained because of it.


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