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Press Release – 57% of pregnant women do not feel safe at work

Press Release Friday 6th November: Shield vulnerable women from harm, pleads Ernest Boateng, widower of Mary Agyapong, the 28 year old pregnant nurse who died from Covid

New research from Pregnant Then Screwed of 5,131 pregnant women has found that 57% of pregnant women in work do not feel safe. This number has more than doubled since April (21%). 53% of pregnant women who work outside of the home have had a risk assessment done, but only three quarters (73%) of employers who have completed a risk assessment are following it. 

This shocking data coincides with a letter to the Prime Minister from Ernest Boateng, widower of the late Mary Agyapong, a pregnant nurse who tested positive for Covid-19 at 35 weeks pregnant and died shortly after. He is pleading for the government to protect vulnerable pregnant women, and to offer formal guidance that they must shield from 20 weeks gestation. 

In his letter to Boris Johnson he explains, ‘An analysis of women in French hospitals showed that those in the second half of pregnancy, from 20 weeks of gestation, were five times more likely to be admitted to ICU than those in the first half of pregnancy, we also know that maternal Covid-19 is associated with an approximately three times greater risk of preterm birth.

Pregnant women must be protected during this pandemic. That is why I am calling on the Government to make it a legal requirement that all pregnant women who are 20 weeks gestation or greater either work from home, or they are suspended on full pay, in alignment with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) s16.’

The new data from Pregnant Then Screwed shows that in fact just 1% of pregnant women who work outside the home have been suspended from work on safety grounds because of their pregnancy. This is an unthinkable drop  From April when this figure stood at 76%.

Joeli Brearley, CEO and founder Pregnant Then Screwed explains, ‘Our research shows that only about half of pregnant women have had a risk assessment conducted by their employer, despite this being a legal requirement during the pandemic. Pregnant women must remain 2 metres away from others at all times, but how would an employer know this is happening if they don’t rdo a risk assessment? If you are not able to work in safe conditions, and you cannot work from home then you must be suspended from work on full pay and yet just 1% of pregnant women are. 

The body responsible for the health and safety of employees at work is the HSE. But we know that between 16th March to 24th September no formal enforcement action has been recorded against employers for breaching health and safety regulations in relation to new or expectant mothers. Pregnant women are being let down by weak Government guidance and a toothless enforcement body.’

The study has also reported that a huge 54% of pregnant women who do not feel safe at work have admitted to not understanding their legal rights.

Joeli Brearley explains, ‘The data shows that pregnant women simply do not know which way to turn. Employers need to look after the safety of their pregnant staff, particularly those in the later stages of pregnancy and Black, Asian and ethnically diverse pregnant women. Mary died because she was at work when she shouldn’t have been, she was not safe, we need to act now to ensure that other women do not suffer this same fate.’

Ernest’s letter to the government was sent today, it asks the government to formally protect pregnant women to be able to shield from 20 weeks onwards. 

ENDS 

For further press information or case studies from Pregnant Then Screwed please contact: [email protected] 

Full research findings:

Total of 15233 responses in the complete survey, 5131 pregnant women 

  • Only 53% of pregnant women who work outside the home have had an individual risk assessment done despite this being a legal requirement 
  • Only three quarters of employers who have done a risk assessment are following it (73%) 
  • 57% of pregnant women do not feel safe at work 
  • 54% of pregnant women do not understand their legal rights should they feel unsafe at work 
  • Only 1% of pregnant women who work outside the home have been suspended from work because of their pregnancy 

This is compared to previous data collected by the same method on 15th April found that: 

  • 76% of pregnant women who worked outside of the home had been suspended from work 
  • 21% said they were still going to work and were worried about their safety 

Data from 28th April with 2268 pregnant women found that 

  • Of pregnant workers who couldn’t work from home 75% had been suspended from work
  • 19% said they were still going to work and were worried about their safety

When this was broken down for NHS workers specifically it found that 24% of pregnant NHS workers felt unsafe, rising to 31% for BAME pregnant workers (you probably don’t need this it is just in case you wanted to link it with Ernest’s letter and the fact that Mary was a nurse) 

Ernest Boateng’s full letter is here: 

Rt Hon Boris Johnson House of Commons London SW1A 0AA Dear Prime Minister, My name is Ernest Boateng. I am the husband of Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, the 28 year old nurse who died from Covid-19, five days after she gave birth to our daughter via emergency Csection. Mary died at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire where she had been a dedicated member of staff for 5 years, caring for patients. She was never able to hold her baby daughter. My wife has been taken from me and my family and I do not want her death to be in vain. I am therefore writing to urge you to increase protections for pregnant women as infection rates rise once again. Mary should not have been working based on the facts and findings. She was 35 weeks pregnant when she tested positive for Covid-19. An analysis of women in French hospitals showed that those in the second half of pregnancy, from 20 weeks of gestation, were five times more likely to be admitted to ICU than those in the first half of pregnancy, we also know that maternal Covid-19 is associated with an approximately three times greater risk of preterm birth. The guidance for pregnant women has been confusing throughout this pandemic. The current guidance continues to list pregnant women as vulnerable and says that if they cannot work from home then they should stay socially distanced from others. We know that this is not happening. Just over half of pregnant women have had a risk assessment from their employer and even then, many employers are ignoring their own risk assessment. Pregnant women must be protected during this pandemic. That is why I am calling on the Government to make it a legal requirement that all pregnant women who are 20 weeks gestation or greater either work from home, or they are suspended on full pay, in alignment with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) s16. I would be delighted to meet with you to ensure that no other family is forced to endure the suffering that mine has. I look forward to receiving your response. 

Thank you,

Yours Faithfully, 

Ernest Boateng

Notes to Editor: 

About Pregnant Then Screwed (www.pregnantthenscrewed.com):  

Pregnant Then Screwed is a charity that seeks to protect, support and promote the rights of pregnant women and mothers. We carry out extensive research into the effects of systemic cultural and institutional discrimination during pregnancy and motherhood, as it relates specifically to employment. Our support services include a free employment rights helpline, a free legal advice service, and an employment tribunal mentoring service, as well as in-person and online events. 

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