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A third of pregnant women fear losing their jobs over Covid safety concerns

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In its new report ‘Unsafe and Unsupported’, charity Maternity Action raises grave concerns over the health and safety provision for pregnant women in workplaces.  It’s calling on government to support businesses with funding for paid maternity suspensions to ensure that pregnant women aren’t under pressure to work in unsafe environments.

According to the survey, 36% of women who were pregnant during the pandemic said that they felt worried about losing their job if they took time off or asked their employer to do more to protect them from Covid. This is despite the fact that pregnant women are considered ‘high risk’ of serious complications from Covid-19.

In the same survey, over two-thirds (69%) of pregnant women said they were fairly or very worried about catching Covid because of their work. A fifth of respondents (20%) said they took time off or even left their job because they were so concerned about catching Covid.

Over half (59%) raised concerns about their health and safety with their employer but of these, almost 1 in 5 (17%) said their employer took no action to address their concerns.

Ros Bragg, director of Maternity Action said:

“The situation for pregnant women is dire and is only getting worse as the pandemic progresses.

“A third of pregnant women have worried about losing their jobs because of Covid safety concerns and they are frankly right to be worried – because the system that is supposed to protect them is not fit for purpose.

“There is a vast gap between these what the law says and actual employer practice, leaving women under huge pressure to work in unsafe conditions.

“The Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities, both tasked with enforcing workplace health and safety, have shown themselves wholly inadequate to the task – often leaving pregnant women with the unenviable choice of either taking their employer to Tribunal to arrange basic health and safety protections, or carrying on working in an unsafe environment.”

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