Letter to MPs regarding adequately protect pregnant women under the current pandemic

8th May 2020

Dear MP,

We are extremely concerned that the UK Government is failing to adequately protect pregnant women under the current pandemic. We are therefore calling on parliamentarians to take action to ensure pregnant women are effectively supported and protected. 

The Government has recognised pregnant women as ‘clinically vulnerable’ to the effects of COVID-19. According to the ‘Stay Alert and Safe / Social Distancing Guidance’ issued on the 11th May 2020 this is defined as: 

‘’you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.’’

We believe it is imperative that pregnant women are shielded from potential infection from Covid19 as we are currently unaware of the damage this disease can cause to a growing fetus and it’s mother. Five pregnant women have now died. We only know the identity of three of those women, all three were BAME. 

The current guidance is inconsistent and it does not go far enough to promote a clear and coherent approach to employers, leaving pregnant women vulnerable.

The Government has now issued some guidance on the need to carefully assess risk for those who are clinically vulnerable and makes the point that a pregnant worker is entitled to suspension on full pay if there is a workplace risk which cannot be alleviated by an alternative role. However, this guidance is contained in 8 sector-specific guides, rather than an umbrella piece of guidance and isn’t, for example, contained in the more general Guidance for Employers and Business on Covid-19.  Nor is there health/social care sector-specific guidance. This is very worrying as our research has shown that 25% of pregnant health and social care workers are working in direct contact with patients who could have Covid-19.  

The existing guidance fails to address the tension between the message in the “Stay Alert / Social Distancing’’ guidance for clinically vulnerable people (take extra care to minimise all interactions outside the home) and the back to work guidance which suggests that clinically vulnerable people can still travel to and from work and work within a workplace.

We need your support to ensure that the Government addresses this shortfall by urgently updating Guidance for employers and businesses on Coronovirus (Covid-19)  to make the protections for pregnant women clear to both employers and employees. 

We would therefore be grateful if you could ask any of the following parliamentary questions:

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if they will urgently update and disseminate guidance for employers to ensure that a) pregnant women are explicitly recognised as a vulnerable group; b) employers are aware of pregnant women’s rights, obligations and options (e.g. working from home, furlough, maternity suspension); c) risk assessments are reviewed to ensure pregnant women can adhere to government advice around social distancing? 
    • Furthermore, to ask that such updates are integrated into other Departmental guidance, notably the Department of Health.   
  • To ask Her Majesty’s Government, to fully review all COVID-19 guidance to ensure critical consistency and coherence for the protection of pregnant women. Particularly regarding employment rights and protections.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what measures he has taken to ensure better protection for pregnant NHS workers in line with UK legislation?     
  • To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, to what extent her Office has been involved in the development of HMG guidance regarding COVID-19? Specifically, to what extent the Office was able to ensure that protections for vulnerable groups of employees (e.g. pregnant women) were clearly reinforced with employers? 

Thank you for your support and please also find enclosed a short briefing on the issue with more information and do let us know if you have any questions or if you would like to discuss further actions on this issue.

Yours Sincerely,


Joeli Brearley

Pregnant Then Screwed



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