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Your pregnancy at work

We answer your most asked questions about working during pregnancy
Is it safe to work while i'm pregnant?

As long as you're experiencing a 'normal', healthy pregnancy and have a 'safe' work environment there is no reason while you shouldn't work

However, your employer must, according to to UK Health and Safety law, conduct a risk assessment of your work environment. This looks at factors such as exposure to hazardous chemicals, heavy lifting or carrying, long periods of standing, sitting or travelling, long working hours or prolonged exposure to heat, cold, shocks or vibrations.

If any potential risks are identified your employer must temporarily change your work conditions or offer you an alternative role in the company. If neither of these options are viable, then your employer must suspend you on full pay. This applies regardless of the duration of your employment and the protection extends up to 6 months after you have had your baby and for as long as you are breastfeeding.

If you feel that during the course of your work you are being exposed to risks that your employer does not acknowledge then you should contact your Human Resources department or Union.

When should I break the news to my boss?

Legally you need to inform your employer of your pregnancy 15 weeks before your baby is due.

Many women choose to keep their impending motherhood under wraps until they have passed the first trimester and had their first scan. However, if you work in a potentially hazardous environment, are experiencing severe morning sickness, your work is suffering or you are taking time off work because you feel exhausted then it may be a better idea to let them know earlier. If you choose to do this but don't want anyone else to know it is worth asking your boss to keep the news confidential until you break it yourself.

Can I be sacked because I'm pregnant?

It is completely illegal for your boss to discriminate against you in any way because of your pregnancy (or your gender for that matter) and this includes dismissing you on the grounds of your pregnancy. If you feel that you have been unfairly treated by an employer then visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more information and support.

Can I get time off to see my doctor?

All pregnant women are entitled to paid time off during work hours to attend any GP, midwife, antenatal or parenting appointment deemed necessary by their doctor. This right applies regardless of how long you have been employed.

How do I cope with morning sickness at work?

The best way to see morning sickness through at work is with a plentiful supply of mints, mouthwash and ginger tea. Try to get as much fresh air as possible and drink lots of fluids to keep hydrated. If your work is suffering or you are finding it difficult to carry out your responsibilities because of morning sickness it can be best to talk to your boss as they may be able to temporarily adapt your position to make things more comfortable for you.

If you are frequently being sick rather than feeling nauseous you will also need to think of a cover story to explain your frequent trips to the bathroom (presuming you haven't yet shared the news with colleagues). Food poisoning or a suspected food intolerance can be good covers but you may find that many put two and two together.

How do I cope with the commute?

Unfortunately your journey to and from work isn't taken into consideration in your employers risk assessment and so officially they aren't under any obligation to change your working arrangements to make this easier for you. However, if you have to suffer through a long commute during rush hour every day they may be willing to let you alter your working hours slightly so that you travel at more favourable hours when you're more likely to get a seat or less likely to get stuck in a traffic jam. Depending on your work your employer may also be willing to let you work from home for a day or two a week so it can be worth asking if you're finding the commute very difficult.

What can I do to keep focused?

It can be incredibly difficult to keep your mind on the job when you are feeling exhausted and have so much else to think about. However, never underestimate the importance of being comfortable in your work environment in helping you to keep focused.

Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes (good idea to give those heels a miss), drinking lots of water and adapting your work station to accommodate your pregnancy needs will all help you to stay on the ball. Taking a short walk at lunchtime will help you to feel refreshed or, failing that, a quick nap in your car can be a good alternative if it helps you feel better. Eating properly will also do wonders for your ability to work; it's a good idea keep healthy snacks such as dried fruits and seeds to hand whenever you need a little pick me up.

Although it's easier said than done it's also important to try and avoid putting yourself under too much pressure and feeling too stressed about the job at hand. Talk to your boss if you're struggling to keep up and welcome colleagues help if they offer it!

Do you have any tips you can share to help other Mums-to-be get through their days at work while they count down to maternity leave? Why not visit the AskBaby Forums and meet others who really know what you're going through?

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hi everyone,
I am about 9 wks pregnant with my second child. When I was pregnant with my first I was incredibly ill for the first 12-15 wks and it seems I am following in the same direction. I am just worried that I may get fired as my attendance has not been the greatest due to many different reasons all reasonable as far as I'm concerned. I can't really eat so I am either throwing up slot of the time or feeling dodgy and dizzy due to me lack of eating. I don't know what to do. my sickness has got so bad I am now peeing myself when I throw up without any control of myself. Any ideas of what to do. Do I go back to work and just take a few change of clothes or tale more time off???
by tanya85 12th Jan 2012, 9:11am
hi i was wondering if anyone knows i know you get paid for doctors midwife ect. but do you get paid if you live far and have to take the rest of the day off after appointment.if anyone could help thank you
by 3219me 16th Jun 2009, 11:57am
i would say, whats more important, your job or your baby? Yor employer is legally obliged to do a risk assesment, and therefore remove any risk to you and your baby, if this cant be done then they are legally obliged to suspend you on full pay until baby is born. Most pregnancy magazines tell you your rights etc. Hope this helps, good luck. xx
by teenysheeny 14th Apr 2009, 12:55pm
hi i have just found out that i am 3 weeks pregnant and i am scared that i will lose my dream job over it, i am currently training to be a veterinary nurse and i know its illegal to dismiss me because of it but I'm still worried about it and what my work colleges will think of me.
by monnbeam19 27th Jan 2009, 9:16am
hello i just found out im pregnant. With my job im scared b/c I due heavy lifting of clients (adults with disabilites in wheelchairs). i drive buses to pick them up in am and drop them off in pm. I change their diapers, and feed them. i'm just scared to tell my job too early B/c in august i had miscarriage working for the same people, some of my co-workers said it was b/c of the lifting. I would never know what caused it though but im truely scared. what should i do i lifted clients everyday. about 3 or 4 a day
by mira29 11th Dec 2008, 9:40am
I am 29 weeks pregnant. My job involves long distance driving and the occasioal stay away from home. My work have carried out risk assesment on the phone only. I have seeked advise from my doctor with regards to traveling however he has advised that if I am not comfortable with driving then I should go off on the sick. Unfortuntly I don't get paid for this.Is it safe to continue these journeys and to what stage in my pregnancy? I plan to work on to 37 weeks. Is my work liable to pay me if I feel to uncomfortable driving.
by nik1107 24th Apr 2008, 8:53am