I do night work regularly but I am expecting a baby in six months. Can I stop working at night while I am pregnant?
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, every employer is required to carry out a risk assessment for the workplace. This assessment should identify hazards in the workplace, assess the risks from such hazards and identify the steps to be taken to deal with any risks. Now that you are pregnant, your employer should carry out a separate risk assessment for you. If there are particular risks to you during your pregnancy, these should be either removed or you should be moved away from them.
If neither of these options is possible, you should be given health and safety leave from work, which may continue up the beginning of your maternity leave (under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004). If a doctor certifies that night work is unsuitable for you during your pregnancy, you must be given alternative work or health and safety leave.
Time spent on health and safety leave is treated as though you have been in employment, and this time can be used to accumulate annual leave entitlement. You are not entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur during health and safety leave. During health and safety leave, your employer must pay you your normal wages for the first 21 days (3 weeks), after which you may qualify for Health and Safety Benefit from the Department of Social Protection.
When you return to work after maternity leave, if there is any risk to you because you have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, that risk should be removed. If this is not possible, you should be moved to alternative work. If it is not possible for you to be assigned alternative work, you should be given health and safety leave. If night work is certified by a doctor as being unsuitable after the birth, alternative work should be provided. If alternative work cannot be provided, you should be given health and safety leave.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000