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Working Hours: Pregnancy

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the maximum number of hours is that an employer can require a pregnant employee to work; and if he will make a statement. (202520)

[holding answer 29 April 2008]: The maximum number of hours a pregnant woman can be required to work is 48 hours per week, unless she (the pregnant employee) has signed a waiver.

However, this may be reduced if the hours of work pose a risk to the expectant mother or her unborn child.

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety at work of all employees, including new and expectant mothers and mothers who are breastfeeding. As part of this duty employers are required to carry out a specific risk assessment paying particular attention to risks that could affect the health and safety of the new or expectant mother or her child.

Employers are obliged to do what is reasonably practicable to control risks such as making changes to the working conditions; hours of work or offer alternative suitable work. If none of these steps adequately reduces the risk the employee must be suspended from work on full pay to protect her and her unborn child.