6. Workplace safety law
The Management Regulations
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR) implement the health and safety requirements of the Pregnant Workers Directive (92/85/EEC) into UK law.
The specific health and safety requirements relating to pregnant workers and new mothers are mainly contained in regulations 16 to 18.
- regulation 16 requires employers to manage the risks to women of a childbearing age, pregnant workers and new mothers
- regulation 17 covers advice from a doctor or midwife if night work will affect the health of pregnant workers and new mothers
- regulation 18 explains employers' duties once notified a worker is pregnant, has given birth in the last 6 months or is breastfeeding
The Employment Rights Act
Section 67 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that suitable alternative work should be offered, if available, on the same terms and conditions, before suspension from work is considered.
Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations
Regulation 25 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that employers must provide a suitable place for pregnant and breastfeeding workers to rest.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to dismiss or discriminate against a worker because they are pregnant, a new mother or are breastfeeding. Breaches of health and safety law may also be discrimination under the Act, depending on the circumstances.
The Act requires no length of service qualification and gives protective rights to a broad range of workers, including contract, agency and apprentice workers. A breach of the Act could lead to civil liability.