Discovering that you are pregnant and planning for the future ahead with your family should be an exciting and happy time in your life, but sometimes not everyone is pleased to hear your joyous news.
Unfortunately, some people do experience problems with their employer and have to fight to get the maternity leave and job security that they are entitled to.
Legal experts such as Slater and Gordon are frequently asked for assistance in enforcing workplace rights and claiming compensation, so here is a look at some of your main rights and how to fight for them if you are a pregnant employee working in the UK.
Tell your employer
You must inform your employer about your pregnancy at least 15 weeks prior to your estimated due date.
If for some reason you were not actually aware of your pregnancy until a later date, there is a provision for this and you must tell your employer as soon as possible if it is past the normal required notice period.
It is up to you to tell your employer when you want to start your Statutory Maternity Leave and start receiving Statutory Maternity Pay, which is paid for a period of up to 39 weeks.
Know your rights
There are four main rights that pregnant employees have, and it is important that you know what rights you have, so you can question any situation that deviates from your standard entitlement.
You are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care. This does not just cover medical appointments but also includes antenatal or parenting classes if they have been recommended by your doctor or appointed midwife.
Your employer has to give you this time off for antenatal care and pay your normal rate for this time off. These rights are also extended to the father or partner of the pregnant woman, who has the right to attend 2 antenatal appointments with you during your pregnancy.
Your other main rights are an entitlement to maternity pay and maternity pay or maternity allowance and just as importantly, employment law in the UK gives you protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal as a result of your pregnancy.
In addition to enjoying certain employment rights as a pregnant employee, there are certain healthcare benefits that you are entitled to.
If you are pregnant or had the baby in the last 12 months, you will be entitled to free NHS prescriptions. In order to claim this benefit you will need to obtain a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx), which you can get from the doctor, midwife or health visitor.
Looking after you and your baby at work
Health and safety is always an important issue and even more so when you are a pregnant employee.
Your employer should identify and health and safety risks that pose a threat to your pregnancy and where there are risks such as heavy lifting or exposure to toxic substances, they need to take reasonable steps to remove them or suspend you on full pay if they can’t remove the risk.
Always take advice and question your rights if you do not think that you are being treated fairly or equally as a pregnant employee.
Liam Williams is an obstetrician. He likes to write about health issues to post on the web. His articles are available on health and wellness websites.