As an employer you have a legal duty to protect pregnant women at work from any work related risks.
Once an employer has been informed in writing that an employee is a new or expectant mother, the employer needs to complete a risk assessment that identifies any risk to the mother. These risks will be dependent on their job role for example, does their role require heavy lifting, excessive standing etc.
If these risks cannot be avoided by preventative and protective measures then the employer will need to:
Alter her work conditions or hours, if it is reasonable to do so and will avoid the risks or
Offer her suitable alternative work or
Suspend her from work; this would be on full pay
You may also have to review this assessment as the pregnancy develops.
The risk assessment does not end once the mother has given birth; these assessments will need to be reviewed if the mother returns to work within six months of giving birth. Also if the mother chooses to breastfeed the employer must ensure that they are not exposed to any risk that could damage their health and safety for the period of breastfeeding.
Remember to do the risk assessment with the employee not to the employee! Find out her concerns; what will make work life easier for her. It is in your best interests to ensure she is as comfortable and as safe as possible at work, this should reduce the risk of absence during pregnancy.
At Simple HR we provide risk assessment training and full documentation, please give us a call if you require any more information on this topic.