With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for pregnant women at work.
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Pregnancy is a special time when you need to take particular care of yourself and the baby inside you. If you are well, you may want to work right up until the day you give birth, in which case you can expect your working conditions to be adjusted to ensure your safety and that of your unborn child. The EU has played an important role in improving protection for pregnant working women. EU legislation sets minimum standards regarding situations that could be risky or dangerous for pregnant employees and in which cases employers are obliged to take action. Depending on the type of work, pregnant women can take advantage of possibilities to reduce working time or refrain from certain types of task that could put their pregnancy at risk. In addition, pregnant workers are not obliged to work night shifts if that would be contrary to medical advice. Without loss of pay, pregnant women are permitted to attend antenatal medical appointments during working hours. At all events, they should not be discriminated against at work or dismissed because of the fact that they are pregnant.
Although there has been significant progress regarding the protection of pregnant workers and those who have recently given birth, the EU is now working on better rules. As part of broader measures to improve people’s work-life balance, the EU has suggested further measures to secure appropriate working conditions for pregnant employees. It is now up to the Member States to discuss them and agree.
- EPRS publication ‘A new directive on work-life balance’, 2018, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank
- EU legislation on protection of pregnant workers and new mothers, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/
- European Parliament resolution concerning labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P8-TA-2016-0338&language=EN