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The rights of pregnant and breastfeeding workers

As an employer, you must be aware of the privileges that pregnant women and mothers who have given birth have. Remember that employment privileges and restrictions, particularly on working hours, also apply to caregivers of young children.

When pregnant women acquire special rights

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

Employees during pregnancy and breastfeeding, due to the potential adverse effects on health and the course of pregnancy or breastfeeding, may not perform strenuous and hazardous work or work harmful to their health.

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.

What are the restrictions on working hours during pregnancy

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.

What is more, the employer should limit the working hours to 8 hours per 24 hours for pregnant employees employed in the following schemes:

  • equivalent working time
  • continuous working time
  • shortened working week
  • weekend work.

Read more about working time.

When a pregnant or breastfeeding employee needs to have her working conditions changed

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.


Worker Anna has so far worked at KIM and carried loads weighing 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 weighing 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.

When a compensatory allowance is due after a change in working conditions

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.

How many breastfeeding breaks is an employee entitled to

A breastfeeding woman is entitled to two 30-minute 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.

What employment restrictions apply to employees caring for young children

An employee caring for a child until the child is 8 years old must not, without the employee’s consent, be employed:

  • in overtime work
  • at night
  • in the intermittent working time scheme
  • as a delegate outside the permanent workplace.

Working hours of employees caring for a child under the age of 4 and employed in the following schemes:

  • equivalent working time
  • continuous working time
  • shortened working week
  • weekend work,
  • should be limited to 8 hours a day, unless they agree to work longer.

Important! If both parents or guardians of the child are employed, only one of them may use these rights.

Flexible working time schedule

An employee raising a child up to the age of 8 will be able to apply for flexible work arrangements.

The application must be submitted no less than 21 days before the planned start of flexible work arrangements.

Flexible work arrangements include, for example, part-time work, remote working or a weekend work scheme.

In the application for flexible work arrangements the employee must indicate:

  • given name, surname and date of birth of the child
  • the reason for the need to use flexible work arrangements
  • the start and end date for the use of flexible work arrangements
  • the type of flexible work arrangements the employee plans to use.

When considering an employee’s application for flexible work arrangements, you must take into account the employee’s needs, including the timing and reason for the need for flexible work arrangements, as well as your needs and capabilities, including the need to ensure the normal course of work, the organization of work or the type of work performed by the employee.

An employee applying for flexible work arrangements will be able to apply for restoring the previous work arrangements at any time.

Important! You may not terminate with or without notice an employment contract with an employee who has applied for flexible work arrangements.

Protection of the employment relationship

During the female employee’s pregnancy you may not:

  • prepare for the termination with or without notice of the employment relationship with that employee
  • terminate the employment relationship with or without notice with this female employee, unless there are reasons justifying termination without notice attributable to her, and the company trade union organization representing the employee has agreed to the termination.

Remote work

If an application for remote work is submitted by:

  • a pregnant employee
  • an employee raising a child until the child is 4 years old

you will have to take this into account, unless remote work is not possible due to work organization or the type of work performed by the employee.

You will be obliged to inform the employee of the reason for the rejection of the application, either in paper or electronic form, within 7 business days of the employee’s application.

The portal is supervised by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. Project partners: Łukasiewicz - Poznań Institute of Technology, Polish Chamber of Commerce. The project is co-financed from the Digital Poland Programme by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund and is a continuation of the project \"Central Register and Information on Economic Activity\" financed from the Innovative Economy Programme and the project \"Simplification and digitization of procedures\" financed from the Human Capital Programme.

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