Dear Secretaries of State

7th May 2020 



The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions



The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 

The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Minister for Women and Equalities


Dear Secretaries of State,


Falling through the gap: pregnant women facing Increased risks at work under COVID-19 


Pregnant Then Screwed provides critical support and legal advice for women dealing with maternity or pregnancy discrimination concerns. COVID-19 has greatly exacerbated the vulnerability and risks for pregnant women in the workplace. Under the pandemic, pregnant women are facing heightened risks to their job security, rights to non-discrimination, safety and well-being. Forthcoming ‘relaxation’ of the UK’s lockdown restrictions risks further ‘confusion’ by employers, putting pregnant women at greater risk.


Now is therefore a critical time to close the protection gap for pregnant women at work. By removing space for confusion or misinterpretation by employers now, we believe that protections for pregnant women at work can only be strengthened for the long-term.


We welcome HMG’s recognition that pregnant women are ‘clinically vulnerable’ and recent statements that legal protections continue to apply as well as that employers’ risk assessments for pregnant women should be reviewed. However, such sentiments are absent from HMG guidance and we are concerned that this gap is enabling employers to interpret their responsibilities separately to their legal obligations. Specifically, we are concerned that COVID-19: Guidance for employees, employers and businesses reduces supporting vulnerable groups to ‘good practice’ and fails to make any reference to employers’ legal obligations.

We therefore urge you to immediately update and effectively disseminate COVID-19: Guidance for employees, employers and businesses to ensure protection of expectant mothers. Such an update should:

  • Explicitly recognise pregnant women as ‘vulnerable’ and therefore entitled to specific support by their employer to ensure they can follow government recommendations around social distancing or shielding (for those clinically extremely vulnerable).
  • Explicitly reinforce pregnant women’s’ rights and employers’ duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Equality Act 2010.
  • Stipulate that risk assessments should be reviewed immediately with a view to supporting pregnant women to follow government advice around social distancing or shielding.
  • Remind employers that if risk of infection cannot be mitigated then working conditions must be altered or offer the employee an alternative role.
    • If neither option is feasible then employees should be suspended on full pay i.e. maternity suspension or suspension on medical grounds.

We further recommend that employee guidance is updated to reflect the above and also to include information on specialist support services for expectant mothers in the workplace where they can safely seek independent advice (legal, financial, etc.).     


We look forward to your response and please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss further.


Yours Sincerely,



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