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The rights of pregnant and breastfeeding workers

As an employer, you must be aware what privileges pregnant women and mothers who have given birth have. Find out if these privileges concern all mothers or just breastfeeding ones.

Certification of pregnancy

The legislation provides for specific privileges for pregnant and breastfeeding women:

  • related to the permanence of their employment relationships
  • related to their working conditions.

A pregnant worker will be able to enjoy these privileges from the moment when her pregnancy is certified by a doctor. After certifying that the worker is pregnant, the gynaecologist will issue a certificate of pregnancy. From the moment when the employer receives the certificate, he or she will be required to respect all the pregnancy rights of the worker.

Time off for examinations

Pregnant women receive recommendations concerning examinations to be performed during pregnancy from their attending physicians. If these examinations cannot take place outside a worker’s working hours, for example because of the schedule at the clinic attended by the worker, the employer must grant the worker time off so that she is able to undergo them.

Please note The worker retains the right to remuneration for the time off work due to the examinations.

Work forbidden to pregnant and breastfeeding women

Certain activities cannot be carried out:

  • during pregnancy
  • during the breastfeeding period.

This applies to work that is strenuous, hazardous or harmful to the health of women experiencing these special, personal circumstances. Its performance may have an adverse effect on these women’s health, pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Work that cannot be performed by pregnant women includes:

  • working in a standing position for more than 3 hours in total during a work shift – the time spent in a standing position cannot exceed 15 minutes at one time and should be followed by a 15-minute break
  • working at workstations with visual display units for more than 8 hours a day in total – the time spent in front of a visual display unit cannot exceed 50 minutes at one time and should be followed by a break of at least 10 minutes, counted as working time
  • working at a forced rate (for example, on a production line)
  • carrying loads on a one-wheeled trolley (wheelbarrow) and a manually operated multi-wheeled trolley
  • manually lifting and handling objects weighing more than 3 kg.

Breastfeeding workers cannot:

  • manually handle objects weighing more than 6 kg to a height of more than 4 m or at a distance of more than 25 m
  • manually handle liquid materials – hot, corrosive or harmful to health
  • work as divers, work in pressurised enclosures and work under conditions of increased or reduced pressure
  • work underground in any mines.

The full list of types of work that cannot be performed by pregnant and breastfeeding workers is included in the Cabinet Regulation of 3 April 2017 on the list of types of work that are strenuous, hazardous or harmful to the health of pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Overtime and night work

If a worker worked at night or the employer requested her to work overtime due to special needs, he or she will have to transfer the worker and cease to assign additional work to that person.

A pregnant worker cannot:

  • work overtime
  • work at night
  • work under the system of work split up over the day – without her consent
  • be posted to work outside her place of permanent residence – without her consent.

Changes in working conditions

If a pregnant or breastfeeding worker performs one of the types of forbidden work, the employer must transfer her to a job that is not forbidden. If this is impossible because, for example, the employer cannot offer her another position, the employer must exempt her from the obligation to perform work.

The employer may try to eliminate the threat to the worker’s health or safety if the problem is:

  • excessive levels of agents present in the working environment and as part of the task performed
  • the fact that a doctor has issued a certificate of medical contraindications to work previously done by the worker.

If, however, this is impossible, the employer must transfer the worker to another job or exempt her from the obligation to perform work.

Example

Worker Anna has so far worked at KIN and carried loads weighting more than 20 kg by wheelbarrow around an area with an inclination not exceeding 5%. Having been notified of Anna’s pregnancy, the employer has transferred her to a job in which she is carrying loads weighting no more than 1 kg.

Please note If working conditions are changed in such circumstances, a notice of changes in working and remuneration conditions need not be issued and the employer needs only issue relevant instructions.

Compensatory allowance and remuneration

A worker must receive a compensatory allowance if changes in the working conditions in her previous position, reduced working hours or a transfer to another job results in a reduction in remuneration. The purpose of the allowance is to compensate for any decreases in remuneration. A worker whom you exempt from the obligation to perform work must receive her usual remuneration.

When the reasons justifying the transfer of a worker to another job, reduced working hours or exemption from the obligation to perform work cease to exist, you must allow her to return back to her job and work the number of hours specified in the employment contract.

Breastfeeding breaks

A breastfeeding woman is entitled to two 30-minut breaks counted as working time. A worker who breastfeeds more than one child is entitled to two breaks of 45 minutes each. These breaks may be granted at one time.

A worker employed for less than 4 hours a day is not entitled to breastfeeding breaks. If the number of working hours of a worker does not exceed 6 per day, she is entitled to one breastfeeding break.

Breastfeeding breaks are granted at the request of a worker, on the basis of her declaration that she is breastfeeding a child. There are no limits as to how long women may enjoy this privilege.

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