Pregnant and New Mothers at Work

Pregnant and New Mothers at Work

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW), stipulate employers take into account the health and safety risks to New and Expectant Mothers in the workplace. Risks will need to be managed to reduce the likelihood of harm in accordance with the College Maternity and Family Leave Policy.


Medical appointments

Expectant mothers, regardless of their length of service, are entitled to reasonable paid time off to keep appointments for ante-natal care made on the advice of a doctor, registered midwife or registered health visitor. Ante-natal care is not necessarily restricted to medical examinations. For example, it could include parenting classes. Members of staff should give their managers as much notice as possible of appointments.

With the exception of the first appointment, managers may ask for a certificate from a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or health visitor to confirm that the member of staff is pregnant and an appointment card or other evidence showing that an appointment has been made.


HSE guidance recommends provision of suitable rest and hygiene facilities for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may need to use toilet facilities more frequently. The need for physical rest may require that the woman has somewhere she can sit or lie down comfortably in private, without disturbance at appropriate intervals. Access to clean drinking water should also be available. There are a number of baby changing facilities located across the College campuses, these facilities are for both staff and students.

Advice for employees

Pregnancy and motherhood, whether anticipated or unexpected can alter perspectives and priorities. Issues which may not have been considered problematic in the past, have increased in importance. In addition to these, the employer has a responsibility to protect the health of new and expectant mother and her child. There are processes in place to ensure safe systems of work. Updated risk assessment procedures for Ionising Radiation, Biological and Chemical Hazards consider risks in pregnancy.

You may be reluctant to announce your pregnancy, but if you work in an area where there is a risk of being exposed to any of the following (see below), you will need to advise your Line Manager in writing at the earliest opportunity, so that a risk assessment can be reviewed and if necessary, control measures put in place. You may like to use the template document on this page to assist you in writing to your Line Manager concerning your pregnancy.

  • Ionising radiation
  • Chemicals with the following H Phases:

H340: May cause genetic defects
H341: Suspected of causing genetic defects
H360: May damage fertility or the unborn child
H360D: May damage the unborn child
H360FD: May damage fertility. May damage the unborn child
H360Fd: May damage fertility. Suspected of damaging the unborn child
H360Df: May damage the unborn child. Suspected of damaging fertility
H361: Suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child
H361d: Suspected of damaging the unborn child
H362: May cause harm to breast-fed children
R61: May cause harm to the unborn child
R63: Possible risk of harm to the unborn child
R64: May cause harm to breastfed babies

(details can be obtained from the Material Data Sheets)

  • Biological hazards

Workplace adjustments

Health effects of pregnancy which may affect work
Aspects of pregnancyFactors in workAdjustments to lessen impact on work
 'Morning' sickness, headaches  Early morning work; exposure to nauseating smells  Temporary adjustment to hours/ explore opportunity for home  working; temporary relocation
 Backache  Standing/manual handling/posture  Accommodate changes in posture; restrict manual handling  activities
 Frequent visits to toilet  Difficulty in leaving job/site of work  Allow flexibility for toilet breaks
 Increasing abdominal size  Use of protective clothing; work in confined areas;
 manual handling
 Source suitable protective clothing/PPE in advance of it being  required
 Comfort  Work uniforms not fitting  Source suitable maternity uniforms in advance of it being  required
 Balance Problems  Working on slippery, wet surfaces  Alternative footwear
 Varicose veins  Standing/sitting  Accommodate changes in posture
 Haemorrhoids  Working in hot conditions  Allow flexibility for toilet breaks
This is a representative list only, for advice on a particular issue please contact Occupational Health
workplace adjustments

Return to work

If a woman returns to work within 6 months of delivery or if she will still be breastfeeding after returning, the risk assessment for her work should be reviewed.

The woman may need assistance with her work or temporary alteration of work routines if the work is physically demanding e.g. jobs that involve lifting and handling of loads, or prolonged periods of standing or walking.

Risk assessments for work with toxic chemicals, unsealed ionizing radiation sources or pathogens should be reviewed to consider the risk of exposures that could result in contamination of breast milk.

Arrangements for mothers

A woman who is still breast-feeding will need access to a private room and a break usually once or twice per day to be able to express milk. She will also need access to a fridge to store expressed milk until the end of the day.

Nursing RoomWhen requested, departments should set up a local arrangement. All that is required is a room that is available on a daily basis at appropriate times which can provide privacy and which is close to handwashing facilities. This facility can be managed to accommodate the needs of a number of women expressing milk.

Expressed milk needs to be kept cool. Provision of a dedicated fridge is unnecessary, food fridges should be suitable. Milk containers can be stored inside a second larger box, locked or tamper-evident if thought necessary, to ensure  they are secure and not contaminated whilst stored in the fridge.

South Kensington Campus
There is a nursing room located in Room 210 on the Sherfield Walkway. You will need to go to the Faculty building reception where there will be a signing in/out book and a swipe card. The room can be pre-booked through Faculty reception on ext. 56677.

Hammersmith Campus
A dedicated room can be found in The Commonwealth Building. Contact the Building Manager at Hammersmith Campus for more information on accessing this facility.

St Mary's Medical School
There is a nursing room located in Room B4, Basement. This facility has a sink, fridge, microwave and nursing chair. To access this room please visit the Main Reception, Ground Floor, St Mary’s Medical School, to sign out a key.

Charing Cross - Reynolds Building
There is a nursing room located in room 153A, 1st Floor, Reynolds Building. This facility has a sink, fridge, microwave and a nursing chair. To access this room please visit the Security Desk on the Ground Floor, Reynolds, to sign out a swipe card.

Silwood Park Campus
There is a nursing room located in CPB Ground Floor Room 1.11. To access this room please visit the Security Desk.

White City Campus
There is a temporary room located on the lower ground floor of Molecular Sciences Research Hub Room LG16, for people to use until another room is available. This facility has a table and chair and can be used for a quiet/resting place or for expressing. Further directions can be given by the Receptionists.