Employers obligations during pregnancy | Pregnancy related illness

If she is not well enough to work at certain times of the day, it would be good practice to discuss a temporary adjustment to her hours, for example starting later to avoid rush hour traffic or working from home. You are not legally required to do this, but the alternative might be for your employee to be absent from work for the whole day.

If your employee is not able to work because of pregnancy related illness she is entitled to be off work until she has recovered and is fit for work. No account must be taken of pregnancy related illness, for example, in disciplinary or redundancy decisions using sickness absence levels and it should be recorded separately from other sickness absences.

A pregnant employee should be treated the same way as other employees. If you have a policy which requires all employees to provide medical evidence after a period of illness then you can ask for this from a pregnant employee. You should not put pressure on her to return before she is well enough to do so. This might be pregnancy discrimination.

If other employees are entitled to sick pay, a pregnant woman who is off work with  should receive the same. If there is no entitlement to sick pay under her contract of employment a pregnant employee may be entitled to statutory sick pay.

Yes, if she is off work with pregnancy related illness in the four weeks before her maternity leave is due to start this automatically triggers her maternity leave. However, this is up to you. If she is still able to work, without risk to her health and safety, and she wants to continue to work, you do not have to insist she goes on maternity leave earlier than planned.

Yes, you can recruit a temporary replacement if your pregnant employee is likely to be off ill for a long time, but you must not remove an employee’s job from her just because she is off work with pregnancy related illness. You can cover her absence in the short-term in the same way as you would with any employee. Remember that it is advisable to discuss this with your employee to reassure her that her replacement is temporary until she is well enough to return to work.

If her ill health is not related to pregnancy then she can take sick leave like any other employee. You cannot insist on her starting her maternity leave early unless the illness is related to her pregnancy.

Last updated: 12 May 2016