Some health and safety risks are more likely to affect women, particularly those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

If you’re pregnant, the law requires your employer to pay special attention to any workplace hazards that might affect you or your baby.

Issues that might particularly worry pregnant women include exposure to lead and other chemicals, ionising radiation, heavy lifting, inadequate toilet facilities, exposure to cigarette smoke, sitting or standing for long periods, or travelling during rush hour.    

Once you’ve told your employer about your pregnancy or recent birth, they should try to remove or prevent your exposure to any hazards. If that’s not possible, they could temporarily adjust your working conditions or hours, or offer you suitable alternative work.

If none of this is possible, they can suspend you from work on full pay for as long as necessary to protect your health and safety or that of your baby.

Your employer should discuss any concerns or possible solutions with you before taking these steps. Remember that it’s illegal to discriminate against women because of pregnancy or maternity.

Some workplace issues are more likely to affect women than men, including stress and sexual harassment. If you or other women in your workplace think you’re being treated unfairly or inadequately supported, you can take action.

Often, the best way to solve problems is to join with co-workers and try to reach agreement with your employers – through your union if you have one - on how to make the workplace fairer and safer for everyone.  

Are you a rep? You can find more practical advice on a range of workplace issues in our support for reps section

Common
questions
I've just discovered I'm pregnant. Do I have any special health and safety protections at work?
Yes. Several health and safety laws require your employer to pay special attention to any workplace hazards that might affect you or your baby....
What kind of workplace hazards should my employer be paying particular attention to if I’m pregnant?
This depends on the kind of work you do, but things to look out for include exposure to lead, and certain other chemicals such as drugs and pesticides; working with ionising radiation; lifting and other physical work; exposure to infections and exposure to cigarette smoke...
What kind of precautions could my employer take if I'm pregnant?
They could temporarily adjust your working conditions or hours; offer suitable alternative work; or suspend you from work on paid leave.
What should I do if I'm being sexually harassed at work?
Your employer should have a clear procedure for dealing with sexual harassment. Getting advice from your union is a good first step.