Pregnant and changing to a more physically demanding role

I have been experiencing a very stressful time at work recently and was hoping I could get some advice to put me at ease. I am 30 weeks pregnant. I have worked in the same job for almost two years in catering. It’s quite a physical job but ever since I told my employer about my pregnancy I have been put on easy(er) duties and haven’t had to do any heavy lifting, bending, pushing or pulling heavy things around the kitchen. I have just found out a couple of days ago that my rota is likely to change and I will be working in a restaurant setting. My supervisor’s argument is that the job will be a lot easier for me but I know it won’t be and I am already dreading it. I trained in this job when I started. My main problem with this change is that it tends to get really busy if not manic over certain periods of a day. I do not consider the new option any easier as there is no time for a “breather” breaks, drink or snack breaks, or even sitting down if I get dizzy, let alone going for my toilet breaks. If being put on a till in the restaurant I am not even allowed to sit down (company policy). The problem is that nobobdy has ever spoken to me about anything regarding my pregnancy so nobody really knows what symptoms, if any, I have or what difficulties if any I am experiencing with the job etc.  We all have a clause in our contract that we can be asked to work anywhere within the department at any time but a general practice is that they follow the rotas given unless they need to cover sickness of other staff.
I feel like I am being pushed out for no reason (apart from the obvious, but that would be discrimination right?) and I don’t feel comfortable with the new role at all. I haven’t slept properly since I found out about this and have been stressing really badly ever since too. What can I do?

Chef adding sauce to a plate of food


If you have not told your employer that you do not want to be moved to the restaurant: I would suggest that initially you have a conversation with your manager and explain that you do not wish to move to the restaurant. Explain how this will affect you and your pregnancy. A candid conversation may be enough to show them it would put you at a disadvantage and be unreasonable. Make it clear that as a result of these health concerns that you do not consent to the move. I suggest you take notes of the meeting also.

If your manager still decides to move you to the restaurant then please see below.

If you have told your employer that you do not want to be moved to the restaurant:

  1. Your employer cannot discriminate against you because you are pregnant. This means that they cannot treat you less favourably (in comparison to your non-pregnant colleagues) because you are pregnant. It is arguable that by moving you to the restaurant you will be subjected to less favourable treatment as no other members of staff have been moved here and it (from the information you have provided) appears to be a more stressful and difficult environment in the kitchen than your current role.
  2. Your employer has a duty to safeguard your health and safety at work and therefore is required to consider the risks that you are exposed to at work. Your employer will therefore be required to ensure that you are not exposed to any risks by moving you to the restaurant. It appears as though your employer will argue that ‘it is easier’ in the restaurant and that this is for your own health and safety, but it is worth speaking to your employer and highlighting the below difficulties that you will face by being moved to the restaurant and that therefore for you and your pregnancy symptoms this will not be easier for you.
  3. The restaurant is busier and therefore higher stress will be placed on you (emotional and physical).
  4. You will be able to take less snack/ water/ toilet/ rest, sitting down breaks which are important considering you are pregnant.
  5. There would be less opportunity for you to stretch which you find to be important for you during your pregnancy

If your doctor is willing to verify this you can state this also or include a letter from them, which is supportive.

I would need to review your contract in order to advise you on the clause concerning working anywhere within the department, but this is a usual clause when moving addresses, but it doesn’t normally relate to role changes.

To address the above you would submit a written grievance and state you do not consent to this unilateral change in your contract; that the move would be discriminatory and place your health at risk and you therefore appeal this decision.

*Felicity Carroll assisted in answering this question.

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