HSE tweaks pregnant workers’ guidance with standalone flow-chart
- Date: Wednesday 12th July 2017
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The HSE has re-worked its guidance for employers on managing the risks faced by pregnant workers and new mothers, to emphasise the need for regular communication and to give a decision-making flow-chart more prominence on its website.
The changes followed a survey last year by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which found that 1 in 25 expectant mothers have to leave their jobs due to risk factors at work not being addressed.
In the survey, of 3034 employers and 3254 mothers, 38% of mothers said their employer did not initiate a conversation about risks when they informed them of their pregnancy.
Meanwhile, 19% said that they had identified risks their employer had not.
The accompanying report by EHRC and BIS Pregnancy and discrimination in the workplace, recommendations for change called for more emphasis on, and awareness of, employers’ obligations to manage risk.
Amongst other recommendations to the UK government, devolved governments, the TUC and ACAS, the report also called directly on the HSE to:
- Review its guidance to employees and employers to emphasise the need for ongoing and open communication between employers and new and expectant mothers;
- Address issues raised in the research findings about health and safety in particular industry sectors and occupational groups, such as the hospitality sector;
- Raise employers’ awareness of their health and safety obligations to pregnant women and new mothers, and of existing guidance on breastfeeding.
Last year’s joint EHRC and BIS report and survey was followed by an August 2016 report by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Commission, Pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
Echoing the EHRC and BIs report, the MPs on the committee also called on the HSE to review its guidance to emphasise the importance of ongoing and open communication, and to raise awareness of employers’ health and safety obligations.
But it also went further, suggesting that there should be a new requirement for employers to carry out individual risk assessments for women who announce their pregnancy, although it stopped short of asking for a change in the law to support this.
The report also called on the HSE to take on a greater role in enforcing compliance with the law surrounding expectant and new mothers, including the expectation of an individual risk assessment.
The MPs also asked the HSE to produce model risk assessments for particular sectors and occupations by the end of 2016.