The NEU wants to support and assist all heads, principals and employers to uphold and improve on pregnant women’s rights at work to have their privacy respected, individual risk assessments, flexible adjustments to work arrangements, suitable rest facilities, paid time off for antenatal care, access to pay and career progression and a working experience free from pregnancy or maternity discrimination. Creating a positive culture around pregnancy can really contribute to the retention of staff.
Since the education workforce is predominantly female, schools, colleges and working arrangements must bolster the needs of pregnant women at work.
The NEU survey revealed that only 42% of respondents found their line manager or employer’s response to their pregnancy supportive and only 38% found their response to be extremely supportive. Over 25% of pregnant women were not given a risk assessment after disclosing their pregnancy. Only 38% of respondents were able to use suitable rest facilities. And 11% of pregnant women experienced barriers to taking time off for antenatal appointments.
What can you do?
Be ready to support pregnant women at work.
Let your staff know that you and your leadership team will support pregnant women and new mothers at work and ensure that their pregnancy, maternity, equality and health and safety rights at work are enforced.
- Provide a private, clean, safe space for pregnant women to rest.
- Display the NEU’s Being pregnant at work posters in your workplace.
- Read the NEU model policy. Changes can be made to the policy through negotiation; for guidance, use the process set out in the trade union recognition agreement if you have one or discuss this with your NEU rep if you don’t.
- Share the material with your SLT and discuss the benefits of having such a policy in place: reduced sick days, improved wellbeing and better performance to name but a few. Remember to discuss your duty of care as an employer and the impact on your staff.
- Insert the school/college name in the policy and make sure it is included in the employee handbook or equivalent.
- Use this checklist to develop pregnancy and maternity support plans into your management practices.
- Make sure that your school/college/local authority or trust monitors and reviews working practices and decisions, including pay and promotion decisions, to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers are treated with dignity, respect and fairness. Check that they are not subjected to harassment or any other detriment or disadvantage on grounds of sex, pregnancy and maternity or any other protected characteristic.
- Be aware that many Black and Asian women will not be receiving appropriate individualised or culturally sensitive maternity care outside of work. This can impact on their physical and mental health at work. You can offer appropriate support and ask about what workplace procedures might need adjustment to ensure that expectant Black and Asian women feel supported and valued in their workplace.
- Share pay progression data and non-confidential equality monitoring data with the recognised trade unions.
- Assess the risks to women of childbearing age as part of your general workplace risk assessment, in line with regulation 16 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Hold information on infectious diseases and steps to be taken in the event of an infection, especially rubella, chickenpox, slapped cheek disease (parvovirus) or cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Download to read full content.