Employer told me to go on maternity leave early due to heavy lifting at work: ask the expert

I’m 17 weeks pregnant. I work in the kitchen so I have to do a lot of lifting heavy things…I told my boss that my back really hurt and I would like to start working on the floor instead, but they told me they have no hours to give me and if I’m saying the kitchen is too much for me, there’s no point of putting me on the rota and maybe I should go on maternity leave. They have done an assessment which says I can lift up to 8kgs, but I’m doing this all day. They said that they can’t suspend me on a full pay and they already cut my hours down but said maybe I should think about reducing my hours more or ask doctor for a sick letter.  I don’t want to go off sick. I want to work and I need my hours to pay my bills. I am already struggling with them after they cut my hours. I had to apply for housing benefit to keep my house. I don’t know what to do.

You can’t start her maternity leave until at least 11 weeks before the baby is due so your employer clearly has no clue what they are talking about.

You should definitely get proof of pregnancy from your GP/midwife and potentially a sicknote if the sick pay is enough to get by on, but this does seem drastic as you aren’t actually sick.

It sounds like the risk assessment is not fit for purpose if it is claiming you can do work that you don’t feel you can do – if you end up damaging yourself or your baby through the manual handling, they could be liable.

I suggest you point this out to them & remind them of their legal duty to find you alternative work or full pay suspension. Take out a formal grievance if they don’t & follow it up with a tribunal claim if they still don’t.


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