Following an update over night the advice for pregnant women who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond or with underlying health conditions that place them at a greater risk of severe illness from coronavirus has changed.
The advice states that if employees are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, or if they are pregnant and have an underlying health condition that puts them at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 at any gestation, they should take a more precautionary approach to carrying out/attending work. This is because although they are at no more risk of contracting the virus than any other non-pregnant person who is in similar health, they have an increased risk of becoming severely ill and of pre-term birth if they contract COVID-19.
Considering the new guidance, the following hierarchy of control should be implemented from today for all employees who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, or if they are pregnant and have an underlying health condition:
- Redeploy the worker so that they can work flexibly from home including in a different capacity.
- If working from home cannot be achieved, then employers should implement strict social distancing measures (2m) at all times for these workers.
- If you cannot redeploy the worker and social distancing cannot be achieved, then you should suspend the pregnant worker on paid leave. This is in line with normal requirements under regulation 16(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Advice on suspension and pay can be found here: HSE guidance.
You should take this opportunity to review and update your pregnancy risk assessment for the worker at this time. Both you, as the employer, and the worker should sign the risk assessment to confirm understanding and agreement of the control measures that you intend to implement.
The change in guidance will naturally have an effect on your business and so if you require any advice or assistance, please contact our H&S and HR consultants.