Coronavirus: what you need to know about pregnancy and maternity

This advice is taken from the national NEU website where you will find a range of resources to support and advise you.

Download the NEU Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts poster:

  1. Pregnant women, women on maternity leave and mothers who are breastfeeding have specific protections under health and safety, equality and employment legislation. Many women working in education also have extra contractual rights. During the coronavirus crisis, these rights, including notice rights, still apply.
  2. Many head teachers and employers are taking sensible precautions and implementing reasonable arrangements to protect the health, safety and welfare of pregnant women and their unborn babies. NEU reps are encouraging this approach and are helping to facilitate dialogues around safe working.
  3. If you are pregnant, whatever stage of your pregnancy, we say you should not be in school if a risk assessment does not support this. Government advice is that pregnant women  should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household. Read the NEU advice for staff at greater risk.
  4. All pregnant women should notify their head teacher of their pregnancy as soon as possible, to help make sure that appropriate steps are taken to protect them and their unborn babies.
  5. Employers have a legal obligation to assess and review the risks at work for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who have returned from maternity leave. Exposure to Covid-19 does represent a risk to teachers and school staff who are looking after children in schools. Different risks will arise in different education settings.  The NEU has endorsed the Maternity Action briefing: Protection of pregnant women at work
  6. We have agreed with the NAHT and ASCL that those with health conditions which make them vulnerable to being badly affected if they catch the virus should not be included on staff rotas for working in school during a lockdown. The NEU thinks that the same applies to pregnant women. Pregnant women should not be required to attend school during a lockdown or if the risk assessment does not advise that it is safe for them to do so.
  7. Employers can adjust working arrangements to enable teachers and support staff to work from home if it is safe to do so. Extra care will need to be taken to assess any risk that the workspace and available equipment might pose. Many roles can be undertaken from home but if working from home is not possible, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should be offered suitable alternative employment at the same rate of pay, if this is available. If neither option is possible, employers can arrange for women to be medically suspended on full pay for as long as necessary to protect their health and safety. Full pay should be based on usual earnings.
  8. If a pregnant woman is sick, she should receive sick pay. Going onto sick pay while pregnant does not automatically trigger maternity leave. Maternity leave can be triggered early if the baby is born early, if the woman gives notice to start maternity leave early, or if the woman is absent for a pregnancy related reason in the last four weeks of her pregnancy. “Pregnancy-related” could include a medical suspension related to Covid-19 following a risk assessment.
  9. Some members are at risk of redundancy as a consequence of the pandemic. If a woman’s job is at risk of redundancy during her pregnancy or maternity leave, she must be offered any suitable alternative vacancy that is available. Employers are not prohibited from making pregnant women or new mothers redundant, but we have joined a campaign to change the law this year. Follow these links to read our joint briefing and find out how to ask your MP to support the Redundancy Protection Bill.  
  10. While the virus remains a threat and social distancing continues, keeping in touch during maternity leave is as important as it has ever been. Heads and leaders should agree and review arrangements for keeping in touch with women who are on maternity leave with a view to re-establishing normal working arrangements when it is safe to do so.

For more information see the NEU national website pages: Coronavirus: pregnancy, maternity and childcare

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