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Introduction to this document

Letter suspending an employee during pregnancy

If, on health and safety grounds, a pregnant employee or an employee who has recently given birth cannot continue to perform her normal job duties and there is no suitable alternative employment to offer her, you have to suspend her on pay for as long as is necessary to avoid the risks to her health and safety.


Under health and safety at work legislation, if a new or expectant mother’s work could in any way place her or her child at risk of harm, you must take steps to remove her from that risk. The starting point is to try and change the conditions of her job to remove those risks. If that’s not possible, the next option is to offer her suitable alternative work on a temporary basis. However, if you have no suitable alternative work that you can offer the employee, or if any suitable alternative work that is available would not remove her from the risks to her health and safety, then you must suspend her from work on maternity grounds for as long as is necessary to avoid the risk. Suspension from work on maternity grounds covers women suspended because they are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding their child.

On pay

Your employee is entitled to be paid her normal rate of pay, calculated according to the statutory definition of a “week’s pay”, during the whole period of suspension, unless you had offered her suitable alternative work but she unreasonably refused it. She can complain to an employment tribunal if you refuse to pay her. She might also resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.