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17 Aug 2020


The true scale of the Covid crisis facing expectant mums in the workforce

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many new challenges to families across the country but it appears that working women have been particularly affected.

During lockdown, we have seen numerous news reports that:

  • women were twice as likely as men to have lost their jobs in lockdown as they are over-represented in those sectors which have been hardest hit, such as hospitality, leisure, tourism and the arts.
  • women’s incomes are expected to nosedive by 26 per cent, in comparison to an 18 per cent fall in men’s earnings
  • women had to bear the burden of childcare, housework and homeschooling, even if they were working from home too.

Research released over the summer by UK-based charity, Pregnant Then Screwed, brought to light the impact that the pandemic is having on mothers, including those who rely on childcare to be able to work, those who are self-employed and those who are currently pregnant.

Our head of Employment Law, Daniel Wilde, examines the effect that the pandemic has had specifically on expectant mums.

“This latest research is concerning. According to the survey of 20,000 working mothers, 46% of pregnant women who have been suspended from work because of their pregnancy are not being paid correctly. This includes 33% on furlough, and another 13% on sick pay or who had been told to take holiday or start maternity pay early.

“As for those who are now being asked to return to work, the UK government classifies pregnant women as ‘clinically vulnerable.’ However, the survey found that 45% of pregnant employees who are working outside of the home have not had an individual risk assessment conducted. A further 46% of these pregnant women do not feel safe from COVID-19 when they are at work.

“It is the employer’s responsibility to provide pregnant women with a detailed risk assessment to show how they will keep you safe. If they cannot do this, then they must allow you to work from home and where that is not possible, you should be suspended on full pay.

“This data reinforces the need for employers to examine their workplace practices and risk assessments with offers of flexible working and flexibility over role responsibilities during this challenging period.

“Often, employers are not aware of their obligations to conduct detailed risk assessments for pregnant women or that additional safety measures may need to be taken to ensure that they are able to work safely. It is in the employer’s interests to ensure that the employee can be safely deployed to their duties, but if this is not possible for any reason, they should be suspended on full pay.

“The last thing any pregnant employee or their employer needs at these challenging times is additional stress resulting from their treatment in the workplace. We can assist both employers and employee address these difficult issues and hopefully remove that stress.”

If you are expecting a baby and feel that you have been treated unfairly at work during the pandemic, talk to one of our Employment Law specialists about the actions you can take. Or if you are an employer looking for advice on how to ensure you are treating your pregnant employees correctly during these challenging times, get in touch.



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