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Government must protect the health and jobs of pregnant workers, TUC warns

THE government must protect the health and jobs of pregnant workers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) urged today.

Employers already have a legal duty to keep pregnant employees safe at work, allow them to work from home if possible, offer them suitable work for the same rate if they cannot do their current jobs, or suspend them on full pay.

But the TUC is concerned that employers do not understand their legal responsibilities and are putting pregnant workers who cannot work from home on sick pay.

Moving pregnant workers on to lower statutory sick pay was not only legally wrong but would also disqualify them from vital statutory maternity pay, the union body said.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No pregnant woman should be treated unfairly or be left out of pocket — or even out of a job — for doing the right thing.

“Bosses need to comply with the law and protect the health and safety of pregnant women and their unborn baby.

“Families with new babies can’t afford to lose out on vital cash. Ministers must protect working families, and that means acting fast to protect pregnant workers.”

The TUC is urging the government to make sure pregnant women are paid in full by extending the job-retention scheme to enable employers to reclaim 80 per cent of the workers’ wages and pay their staff in full.

Ministers must also raise awareness of existing legal protections for pregnant workers and that measures must apply to all, including those in part-time, agency or insecure work, the union body said.

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