It is a good idea to tell your employer that you are pregnant as early as possible. This is because:
you may need to take time off for antenatal care,
you may need protection from health and safety risks, and
you are only protected from unfavourable treatment because of your pregnancy once your employer knows or suspects you are pregnant.
Our research found that the majority of employers felt that supporting pregnant employees was in the interests of their organisation.
Tip two – Go to your antenatal appointments
After you have worked for 12 weeks in the same job, you can take reasonable paid time off for antenatal care. This includes not only medical examinations but also, for example, antenatal classes, relaxation or parenting classes, as recommended by a registered doctor, midwife or health visitor. Your employer can only refuse a request for time off if it is reasonable for them to refuse.
After the first antenatal appointment, you have to provide proof of your appointments, if your employer asks you to do so.
Our research found that 15% of mothers under 25 felt they were discouraged from attending their antenatal appointments by their employer.
Tip three- plan your maternity leave
You must tell your employer when you want to start your maternity leave by the 15th week before the baby is due (that is when you are about six months pregnant).
It is a good idea to put it in writing so there is a record of having given the right information at the right time.
You can change the start date of your maternity leave but you must tell your employer 28 days before you want your maternity leave to start. Your employer should then tell you when your maternity leave will end.
You do not need to say how long you will be off on maternity leave but it will help your employer if you do. If you say nothing, it will be assumed that you will take a full year (52 weeks). If you want to return earlier than one year you must tell your employer eight weeks before you want to return.
Our research found that 20% of mothers under 25 reported being encouraged by their employer to take time off or get signed off to start their maternity leave early.
Tip four – talk about risks
If you have any concerns about your health and safety, you should take to your line manager. You can ask to see a copy of the health and safety assessment that has been carried out previously to see if there are any risks that have been identified for pregnant women in your job.
All employers who have workers of child-bearing age must conduct a health and safety assessment which assesses risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Examples provided by the Health and Safety Executive of common risks include:
lifting/carrying heavy loads
standing or sitting still for long lengths of time
exposure to infectious diseases
exposure to lead
exposure to toxic chemicals
workstations and posture
exposure to radioactive material
threat of violence in the workplace
long working hours
excessively noisy workplaces
Our research found that 10% of mothers under 25 reported leaving their work due to health and safety risks not being tackled.
Tip five – avoid stress
You shouldn’t experience a negative impact on your health and stress levels, be given an unsuitable workload or be treated unfavourably or feel less valued.
Our research found that a quarter of mothers under 25 reported experiencing a negative impact on their health or stress levels.