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Pregnancy related illness

Pregnancy at work

What you need to know


Pregnancy related illness, miscarriage and stillbirth

If you do not feel well for certain periods during the day because of your pregnancy (eg. you have morning sickness), you can ask for a temporary change to your hours, for example, starting later or finishing earlier to avoid rush hour traffic, or working from home.

Your employer is not legally required to agree to a change in your working hours unless the change is to remove a health and safety risk.

Can I claim sick pay if I am off work because of pregnancy-related illness?

If you are not able to work because of pregnancy-related illness your employer is legally required to pay you sick pay in the same way as other employees until the last four weeks of your pregnancy. If your employer does not provide sick pay, you will only get statutory sick pay. If your employer asks for a doctor’s certificate you should provide this.

What happens if I am absent with pregnancy-related illness in the last four weeks of pregnancy?

If you have a pregnancy-related illness during the last four weeks of your pregnancy your maternity leave will start automatically unless your employer agrees you can carry on working. Your maternity leave is not triggered if your illness is not connected to your pregnancy, for example if you have flu.

What are my rights if I am off work with pregnancy-related illness?

If your employer treats you badly, such as making rude comments, because you are off work because of a pregnancy-related illness, this may be pregnancy discrimination. Your employer is legally required not to take account of your absence for pregnancy-related illness, for example, in disciplinary or redundancy decisions if sickness absence is used in the selection process.

What if I am too ill to work because I am unable to take medication due to my pregnancy?

You must not be treated less favourably because you cannot take medication due to your pregnancy. It is advisable to get a letter from your doctor confirming that the reason you are unable to work is linked to your pregnancy in order that your employer has been formally notified.

What if I am ill but it is not related to my pregnancy?

If your ill health is not related to your pregnancy, then you will take sick leave like any other employee.

What protection do I have at work, if I miscarry before 24 weeks of pregnancy?

You may need time off work if you are ill as a result of a miscarriage. Sickness absence related to a miscarriage must be treated in the same way as pregnancy-related sickness.

It is good practice for an employer to record all sick leave taken as a result of a miscarriage [or pregnancy] separately from other types of sick leave because an employer must not use it to your disadvantage, for example, in disciplinary or redundancy decisions.

What are my rights if I have a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy?

If you have a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, you are entitled to maternity leave and protection from discrimination in the same way as if you had a live birth. Prior to 24 weeks, the loss of the baby is treated as a miscarriage.

(start date, maternity cover, statutory maternity pay)   
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