This page provides general information about working during pregnancy and maternity leave, focusing on your rights and responsibilities towards your employer. This guidance has been developed by the RCOG Trainees’ Committee but is also relevant post-CCT.
Please also read your employer’s maternity leave policy.
Informing your employer
You must inform your employer (through the Human Resources department) of your pregnancy by the 15th week before your baby is due (at about 25 weeks of pregnancy). If you’re experiencing pregnancy-related problems that are interfering with your work (e.g. morning sickness), you may decide to tell them sooner rather than later. You should also tell your clinical supervisor/line manager and your Training Programme Director.
Your employer should carry out an individualised risk assessment once you’ve informed them in writing of your pregnancy. This risk assessment is a statutory obligation. The assessment should review your specific job role, any hazards and the possible risks to you as a pregnant woman. However, there are no specific guidelines regarding the level of risk at which adjustments to work should be made for pregnant women.
Your HR department will send you the relevant paperwork. You should keep copies of your MATB1 form, which your midwife will give you from your 21st week of pregnancy, as you will probably need to provide several copies.
Time off for antenatal care
You are entitled to time off to attend antenatal appointments. As far as possible, tell your unit in advance as they may need time to organise rotas. You should continue to receive your normal pay (i.e. no deductions for time off for antenatal care).
Health during your pregnancy
It’s important to eat well, exercise regularly and rest appropriately during your pregnancy. All employers are legally required to provide suitable rest facilities for workers who are pregnant.
There’s no point trying to save up all of your annual leave and take it just before your maternity leave if this is turning you into a zombie at home and at work!
Illness during pregnancy
Illness during pregnancy is categorised based on the stage of pregnancy.
If the illness is prior to the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth (roughly 36 weeks of pregnancy), sick leave arrangements are usually the same as for non-pregnant colleagues. However, you should check this by consulting your trust’s absence policy.
If the illness is within 4 weeks of your expected delivery date, your employer may choose to start your maternity leave and pay.
If you experience difficulties that may prevent you continuing with your normal duties, you may be able to arrange sick leave or arrange to work reduced hours. Always refer to your local trust’s policy, but the following criteria usually apply:
- You need to have discussed your health with your medical advisor (GP or hospital consultant)
- Your medical advisor needs to write to your employing trust stating that you need to reduce your hours of work or stop work
- You need to make contact with your trust’s occupational health department
- Your trust will need to review your working week, taking into account your health and safety
- You shouldn’t have to lose pay because of health problems during pregnancy
Always discuss specific issues with your employer. You can also seek individualised advice from the BMA.