June 13, 2022
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The HSE recently announced a change to their guidance for employers who are notified by a worker that they are either pregnant, have given birth in the last 6 months or that they are currently breastfeeding.

All employers have legal duties to put in place arrangements to control risk to the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their undertakings. Before an employer can control risks to health and safety they first need to know what the hazards are, who might be harmed and how, what the level of risk is and what reasonable steps need to be taken to prevent harm from being caused. This process is known as risk assessment.

Someone who is pregnant is breastfeeding or who has recently given birth or their child potentially may be at greater risk than other workers in certain working conditions.

Previously when a worker informs an employer that they are pregnant the HSE’s advice was (taken from the 2013 edition of the HSE’s publication INDG373 New and Expectant Mothers who work):

Any specific risks to female employees of childbearing age and new or expectant mothers and their new baby, do not need to be assessed separately, but can be considered as part of, or as an extension to, the overall risk assessment


Your employer may revisit their original risk assessment to identify if there is anything else they need to do to make sure either you or your baby are not exposed to risk

The HSE have now altered their advice to say that you “must carry out an individual risk assessment” (i.e. just reviewing your existing risk assessment will no longer be considered good enough) specifically:

You must also carry out an individual risk assessment, that covers your worker’s specific needs, when they have informed you in writing that they:

  • are pregnant
  • are breastfeeding, or
  • have given birth in the last 6 months

 You must regularly review your worker’s individual risk assessment and make any necessary adjustments:

  • as the pregnancy progresses
  • if there are any significant changes to your workers’ activity or workplace

 Once you have completed the individual risk assessment, record your findings and share these with your worker and their safety representative if they have one.”

The new guidance can be found at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/employer/risk-assessment.htm