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Fifty-seven per cent of pregnant women who are working outside the home during the pandemic do not feel safe, according to a new survey.
Over half [57%] of pregnant women working outside the home do not feel safe, according to a new survey which calls on employers to suspend pregnant women on full pay if they cannot maintain a two-metre distance.
A study of over 18,000 mums and pregnant women by charity and campaign group, Pregnant Then Screwed also shows that 76% of pregnant women working outside of the home say they cannot socially distance at work and less than half (48%) say their employer is following a mutually agreed risk assessment, despite this being unlawful.
The figures were released as a vigil and protest to honour Mary Agyapong, the 28-year-old pregnant nurse who died of Covid-19 this time last year was held in Parliament Square. Wearing ‘I am Mary’ t-shirts, five pregnant women called on the Government to do more to protect pregnant women from contracting Covid-19 at work.
Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO Pregnant Then Screwed: ‘‘The death of Mary Agyapong cut deep for so many of us…It took the Government nine months to issue specific guidance for pregnant women in the workplace and our research shows that employers are still not adhering to it. Ultimately, this lack of adequate protection, and lack of enforcement, is putting the lives of these women and their babies at risk.’’
Brearley added: “Study after study has shown that pregnant women, particularly those in the third trimester, are more likely to be admitted to ICU, up to three times more likely to give birth prematurely and have worse maternal outcomes than pregnant women without Covid-19, including abnormalities in the placenta causing foetal compromise. This safety risk isn’t going anywhere.”
She said that, even with the recent announcement that pregnant women are now being offered the vaccine, it will still be a few months before they are called for their injection and not all pregnant women will feel confident in taking it.
Pregnant Then Screwed estimates taht almost a third of pregnant women (29%) are working outside of the home and that only 4% have been suspended from work on safety grounds.
Ernest Boateng, the husband of Mary Agyapong, said: “My beautiful Mary died a year ago today. Her tragic death was totally unnecessary, and it could have been averted. It has left me without a wife and my children without a mother. Since that day, I have been campaigning for better protections for pregnant women in the workplace, but a year later, we are still finding that 57% of pregnant women working outside of the home feel unsafe. This is not right. The Government must do more to ensure pregnant women, particularly Black pregnant women, are protected from contracting Covid-19. I don’t want another family to have to go through what mine has been through these last 12 months.‘’
Ernest wrote to the Prime Minister in October last year asking that he do more to protect pregnant workers, but did not receive a response.
Maternity Action recently launched its Action Plan on maternity discrimination, bringing together leading charities, unions and campaigners, such as the TUC, the Fawcett Society and Gingerbread to urge the Government to act immediately to give stronger legal protection to pregnant women and new mums at work. The Action Plan asks the Government to immediately strengthen redundancy protection for pregnant women and new mothers, completely reform the failed Shared Parental Leave policy and overhaul health and safety protections.