Advice for pregnant healthcare workers during COVID-19
There is a strong body of law that protects pregnant workers. All employers must continue to abide by this. It applies to all pregnant workers regardless of who they work for or what they do.
The clinical evidence relating to COVID-19 (see guidance from the RCM and RCOG) indicates that women who have reached 28 weeks’ gestation or who have a underlying health condition such as heart or lung disease should be particularly attentive to social distancing and minimising contact with others. These women should not have direct patient contact. This information will help employers make the right decisions about ensuring the safety of their pregnant workers alongside the legal requirements. Clinical guidance will be updated on a regular basis as new evidence becomes available.
Employers have a legal obligation to assess the workplace risks for pregnant employees and their unborn children. They must keep these risks under review as circumstances change and as your pregnancy progresses. Section 15 of the Agenda for Change Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook ‘leave and pay for new parents’ covers the health and safety of employees pre and post birth.
If it is found that an employee or the pregnancy would be at risk were the employee to continue with their normal duties, the employer should provide suitable alternative work for which the employee will receive their normal rate of pay. Where it is not reasonably practicable to offer suitable alternative work, the employee should be suspended on full pay. (NHS Agenda for Change Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook).
Pregnant midwives and MSWs at any stage of their pregnancy should speak with their manager or HR to ensure that risk assessments are performed and action is taken to keep you safe at work, including suitable alternative work that does not involve direct contact with women is feasible.
*If you are pregnant and have a serious heart condition you may be in the high risk or ‘shielding’ group who the NHS will be contacting by 29th March. If you are in the high-risk group, you are advised to stay at home and avoid close contact with people in your home.