Changing long shifts during pregnancy: ask the expert

I am 13 weeks pregnant and work in retail, where we are required to work shifts from as early as 6.30am, and finish as late as 7.30pm. By 5pm I get really tired. Can I ask my employer to change my shifts and put me on a set shift pattern?

I can really appreciate how you are feeling. Research shows that being pregnant makes demands on a woman’s body that are equivalent to 2 – 3 hours of arduous physical work, so it’s quite normal to experience the kind of tiredness you are describing.
From a health and safety perspective, temporary adjustments may be needed. Have you notified your employer that you are pregnant? Once you have provided written notification, your employer must carry out a specific health and safety risk assessment followed by appropriate action. This risk assessment should be regularly reviewed. Please do contact your HR manager to ensure this is carried out without delay and explain your situation.
Long working hours and lack of breaks may be identified as a hazard, in which case your employer must take all reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk, which might mean changing to a set shift pattern, or another course of action could be agreed to alleviate the situation.
The key to this is open communication. Think about what adjustment might be needed and ask how this can be achieved.
Enjoy your pregnancy!

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