Dealing with pregnancy-related sickness
Dealing with pregnancy-related sickness

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dealing with pregnancy-related sickness
  • Initial considerations
  • Application of usual sickness policy and procedure in case of pregnancy-related sickness
  • Triggering the start of maternity leave
  • Risk assessments and duty to offer suitable alternative work
  • Suspension on maternity grounds

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: Brexit and IP completion day—implications for employment lawyers.

An employee who is pregnant may take time off sick, either due to a pregnancy-related sickness or due to illness unconnected to the pregnancy.

As a separate issue, an employer is under various duties as regards protection of the health of the woman and her baby if risks to her health from the workplace are identified by a risk assessment—these are also covered in this Practice Note.

Initial considerations

In principle, pregnancy-related absences should be treated in the same way as any other genuine sickness absence but:

  1. the employee should not be disciplined (or dismissed) for taking sickness absence due to pregnancy (as opposed to being sick for some other reason) as that could amount to direct discrimination, and the employee should be paid sick pay in the normal way, subject to the employer’s normal rules on self-certification or GP certificates. See Practice

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