Pregnant women are protected under NSW health and safety legislation.
Employers are required to protect pregnant women from any risks or hazards that may affect them in the workplace.
If you are pregnant
If you feel that you are being exposed to something at work that will impact on the health of your pregnancy, you need to talk to your manager, human resources department or union representative.
Potential risks include:
- exposure to chemicals and materials
- excessive travel
- shift work
- heavy lifting
- physically exhausting work
- work that is mentally fatiguing.
You might need to tell your employer you are pregnant earlier than you want to so you can make sure your workplace is safe. You will be able to do this confidentially.
Your employer will need to do a new risk assessment for your job which takes into consideration your pregnancy. Raise any concerns you have about your work conditions with your employer. Also, the tasks and activities you are performing, might need to be reassess as the pregnancy progresses.
The risk assessment needs to be repeated at different stages of your pregnancy or if your work changes. What may not be a risk early on might become a risk later in pregnancy.
All pregnant employees, including casuals, are entitled to move to a safe job if it isn’t safe for them to do their usual job. This includes employees that aren’t eligible for unpaid parental leave.
If you move to a safe job you will still receive the same pay rate, hours of work and other entitlements that you receive in your usual job. You and your employer might also agree on different working hours. You can remain in this job until it is safe to return to your previous role or until you have your baby.
You will need to provide evidence to your employer that:
- you can work but can’t perform your normal job, including why your normal job is no longer safe
- when you believe you will be able to return to your normal job.
Your employer can ask for a medical certificate from your doctor that outlines all of this.
Your employer is legally obliged to offer you a suitable work alternative.
No safe jobs
If there is no safe job available your employer may pay you no safe job leave until a safe job becomes available. If you are entitled to unpaid parental leave, no safe job leave is paid.
If you are a full time or part time employee, no safe job leave is paid at the base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work.
If you are a casual, no safe job leave is paid at the base rate of pay (not including the casual loading) for the average number of hours you would have worked during the period you are on the leave.
Remember that even if you aren’t entitled to unpaid parental leave, you can take unpaid no safe job leave.
The Fairwork Ombudsman website contains further information.
It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because of your pregnancy. If you feel this has occurred, contact the Anti-Discrimination Board.
If you need emotional support, the following services may help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14 – 24-hour counselling service providing emotional support in times of crisis
- Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 – 24-hour support service across NSW that can connect you with a mental health professional
- Headspace on (02) 9114 4100 – a national youth mental health foundation that helps young people between 12 and 25 who are going through a tough time.
Tips for you at work
- review your office and desk set up regularly throughout your pregnancy
- reduce your stress in the workplace with deep breathing or short walks and take regular breaks
- stretch if you've been sitting and sit down, and raise your feet if you've been standing
- if in doubt, don't – if something seems too heavy to lift, or you're feeling dizzy or faint ask for help or find out if someone else can do the task instead of you
- eat properly
- wear comfortable clothes and shoes
- drink plenty of water.