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My employer has completed a maternity risk assessment and decided that I can no longer continue in my current role due to risk. They have offered me another role, but it would be a change in days and especially with the summer holidays upon us, this creates a huge problem for me and childcare. Is my employer allowed to do this and change my days without notice or should they be offering me role within my current working days?
Every employer is under a duty to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety which its employees are exposed to while at work. More specifically, once an employer has been notified in writing of a pregnancy, they are under an obligation to do all that is reasonable to remove or prevent exposure to any significant risk that has been found as a result of a risk assessment. You have a right to be given information on any risks found and the protective measures your employer intends to take. Where a risk is identified, unless it can be avoided, the employer must temporarily alter the woman’s working conditions or hours of work, if this is reasonable and would avoid the risk.
If it is not reasonable to alter the employee’s working conditions or hours of work, or if the risk cannot be avoided, the employer must offer the individual suitable alternative work. An offer of alternative work will be suitable where it is of a kind which is both suitable and appropriate for the employee to do in the circumstances and the terms and conditions applicable for her performing the work are not substantially less favourable than her current terms and conditions. When considering whether the work itself is of a kind that is “suitable and appropriate”, your employer must look at the nature of the job being offered to you ie job status, content and terms, wages and hours. You are within your rights to refuse the job offer and you should set out the reasons why to allow your employer to consider the same as in order to determine whether any refusal is reasonable, your employer will need to fully consider your personal circumstances, such as your health and family commitments.
If there is no suitable alternative work available, or if you reasonably refuse it, your employer does have the right to suspend you for as long as is necessary to protect your health and safety and that of your unborn child. An employee who is suspended and is entitled to be paid remuneration during any such period of suspension, so long as any refusal in respect of suitable alternative work is deemed as reasonable.