What is a Maternity Risk Assessment?

Becoming a mother is such an exciting stage in a woman’s life. With the percentage of women who continue to work whilst they are pregnant increasing, employers should be up to date and aware of how to take care of their pregnant employees.

Pregnant employees’ rights:

  • They are entitled to maternity leave
  • They must get a maternity pay or allowance
  • Paid time off for antenatal care
  • Protection against unfair treatment and discrimination
  • They must have a maternity risk assessment performed on their workplace

What is a maternity risk assessment?

A maternity risk assessment helps employers manage risks caused by work-related activity. It’s used to assess the work environment and workstation of the pregnant employee. Office furniture, screens and software are all things looked at in a risk assessment. But also, the environment is looked at, lighting, temperature and sounds. Assessing these things help to reduce any risks. If you employ five or more people, you must make a record of:

  • The hazards that came up
  • Who might be at harm and how they are at risk
  • How you will control the risks

 If a pregnant employee is working at a desk they will need a DSE (display screen equipment) assessment. We have a cost-effective online assessment which produces a PDF report at the end highlighting any issues.

An employee should let their employer know in writing that they are pregnant, a new mother or breastfeeding.

Who needs to be assessed?

  • A pregnant employee
  • An employee who has become a mum in the last 6 months
  • An employee who is breastfeeding

Do pregnant employees that work at home need to do a risk assessment?

Yes, they do! Working from home has risks too. The desk, office chair and any other office furniture used, all need to be assessed. A DSE is required if the employee uses screens such as: laptops, smartphones, tablets or a monitor screen, daily for an hour or more.

When should pregnant employees inform employers that they are pregnant?

Legally a pregnant employee should let their employer know they are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week that the baby is due. But ideally, they should let someone know as soon as possible so they can do a maternity risk assessment and avoid injuries. The sooner the employer knows, the sooner the pregnant woman can get help.

When should a maternity risk assessment be taken?

A maternity risk assessment should be completed as soon as the pregnant employee informs the employer that they are pregnant.

  • The first review should be completed on the second trimester, which is when they are 3-6 months pregnant.
  • The second review should be completed on the third trimester, 6-9 months pregnant.
  • The third review should be completed prior the return to work
  •  The fourth should be taken following the return to work

What are some risks that a pregnant employee might face whilst working?

The issues that pregnant employees can face aren’t all too different to what most of us could face in a workplace. But when a pregnant woman faces a risk, so does her baby.

Common risks:

  • Long working hours
  • Too hot or cold working conditions
  • Workstation set up wrong and poor posture
  • Stress
  • Lifting or carrying heavy weight
  • Toxic chemicals
  • COVID-19

What if an identified risk can’t be resolved?

Sometimes not every risk can be removed, what do you do if you come across a risk that can’t be resolved?

  • The first thing you can do is adjust the work conditions and hours to remove the risk
  • Give suitable alternative work that doesn’t put the employee at risk at the same rate of pay
  • If the above aren’t possible, they employee should be put on paid leave to protect her from risks.


It’s important to give a comfortable and private area for breastfeeding and to express breast milk in the workplace. Ensure that your pregnant employee has break times for breast feeding and rest. Fridges are also required for storing the milk.

We have a free Understanding DSE guide for you to download if you want some more information on DSE assessments.

For more information on what employers can do to make a good work environment for pregnant employees, check out our other blog post: Making your workplace fit for new and expectant mothers

Other blogs to look for more information:

Take a look at the online DSE assessments we offer:

For more help on DSE or maternity risk assessment, please feel free to contact us, call on: 0330 332 0880 or email: enquiries@posturepeople.co.uk

Do you need some advice about your workplace?

Get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help answer your questions.

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