Press Releases and Research

Press Release – Protest to raise awareness of the ongoing lack of safety for pregnant women

Press Release Wednesday 23rd April: I Am Mary Protest Takes Place In Parliament Square

  • 57% of pregnant women say they do not feel safe at work
  • 76% of pregnant women working outside of the home say they cannot socially distance at work
  • Only 4% of pregnant women have been suspended from work on safety grounds
  • FOI request reveals that out of 25 hospital trusts, 984 pregnant staff continue to work in patient-facing roles.

Today, in Parliament Square, five pregnant women are holding a vigil and protest to honour Mary Agyapong, the 28-year-old pregnant nurse who died of Covid19 this time last year. Wearing ‘I am Mary’ t-shirts the women are asking the Government to do more to protect pregnant women from contracting Covid-19 at work.

Charity and campaign group, Pregnant Then Screwed is today releasing figures from a new study of over 16,000 mums and pregnant women, which reveals that a huge 57% of pregnant women working outside of the home do not feel safe. A further 76% of pregnant women working outside of the home say they cannot socially distance at work, and less than half (48%) say their employer is following a risk assessment, despite this being unlawful.

Pregnant Then Screwed has also issued a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to uncover what is happening in hospitals, and this data has shown that out of 25 trusts, 984 pregnant staff continue to work in patient-facing roles.

Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO Pregnant Then Screwed, ‘‘The death of Mary Agyapong cut deep for so many of us. We had hoped that this tragedy would trigger a change in the guidance for pregnant women to ensure others were better protected from Covid19, but no such guidance was forthcoming despite pressure from our charity and other groups. It took the Government 9 months to issue specific guidance for pregnant women in the workplace and our research shows that employers are still not adhering to it. Ultimately, this lack of adequate protection, and lack of enforcement, is putting the lives of these women and their babies at risk.’’

One of the most shocking revelations from the FOI request highlighted that at Airdale NHS foundation between 1st March 2020 – 31st January 2021, 14 pregnant women were treated in hospital for Covid19 and there were 10 maternal deaths, with Covid19 as the leading cause of death.

Joeli Brearley continues, ‘Study after study has shown that pregnant women, particularly those in the third trimester, are more likely to be admitted to ICU, up to three times more likely to give birth prematurely, and have worse maternal outcomes than pregnant women without Covid-19, including abnormalities in the placenta causing fetal compromise. This safety risk isn’t going anywhere even with the recent announcement that pregnant women are now being offered the vaccine, it will still be a few months before they are called for their injection and not all pregnant women will feel confident in taking it. This must be dealt with carefully and compassionately as we begin to relax restrictions. Pregnant women’s safety is paramount and Pregnant Then Screwed continues to call on the Government to ensure all employers suspend pregnant women on full pay if they cannot keep them 2 meters away from other people at all times.’

Currently, almost one-third of pregnant women (29%) are working outside of the home, and only 4% of pregnant women have been suspended from work on safety grounds

Ernest Boateng, the husband of Mary Agyapong, explains, ‘My beautiful Mary died a year ago today. Her tragic death was totally unnecessary, and it could have been averted. It has left me without a wife and my children without a mother. Since that day, I have been campaigning for better protections for pregnant women in the workplace, but a year later, we are still finding that 57% of pregnant women working outside of the home feel unsafe. This is not right. The Government must do more to ensure pregnant women, particularly Black pregnant women, are protected from contracting Covid19. I don’t want another family to have to go through what mine has been through these last 12 months.‘’

Ernest wrote to the Prime Minister in October last year asking that he do more to protect pregnant workers. He never received a response.

Pregnant Then Screwed and Ernest Boateng are calling on the government to intervene as a matter of urgency to prevent more pregnant women from dying.


For further press information or case studies from Pregnant Then Screwed, please contact: [email protected] or call 07756525004.

Notes to Editor:

About Pregnant Then Screwed ( 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.

Further information about the rights of pregnant women during Covid19:

Pregnant women were declared clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 on the 16th March 2020, yet for most of the pandemic, there was no clear guidance published by the Government relating to their safety at work. In the absence of such guidance, employers deferred to advice published by the RCOG, a body whose remit does not include employment rights.
Guidance for pregnant workers was finally published on 23rd December 2020 but has not been widely disseminated or promoted to employers. The main guidance for employers, Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19), originally published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in May 2020 still fails to incorporate the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Pregnant Employees issued by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Health and Safety Executive.

However, in response to a Freedom of Information request made by PTS in November 2020, the HSE confirmed that it does not categorise pregnant women and new mothers in its RIDDOR data, despite there being specific provision in law to protect this group of workers. We have serious concerns about the ability of the HSE to properly enforce existing health and safety regulations for pregnant workers when it does not collect the data that would enable this.

It is clear that current protections, including those that exist under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW) are inadequate and unenforced. An employer is required by law to assess the health and safety risks to all employees with specific consideration to female employees of childbearing age, pregnant women, and new mothers. Additionally, further Covid-19 specific guidance from both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (March 2020) and from the Government (December 2020) states clearly that a pregnant woman of any gestation should only continue working if a risk assessment advises it is safe to do so.

Health and safety among pregnant Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women

During a pandemic where BAME people are more likely to die or end up in ICU, our April 2020 research3 found that BAME pregnant workers’ concerns for safety are not being addressed:

  • 8% of pregnant women reported feeling unsafe at work – this rose to 13% for BAME pregnant workers.
  • 8.3% of all pregnant women who are not working have been suspended on incorrect terms4- this rose to 10.6% for BAME pregnant women.
  • 24% of pregnant NHS workers said they were worried for their safety, rising to 31% for BAME NHS staff

The UK Obstetric and Surveillance System report found that 55% of pregnant women
hospitalised for Covid-19 were from BAME communities.

About the research:

The research was collected in March 2020 from, it was a survey of 16, 825 pregnant women and new mothers. 3,623 of the respondents were pregnant.

Key findings:

  • 4% of mothers have been suspended from work because of their pregnancy
  • 29% of pregnant women are currently working outside of the home
  • Less than half (48%) of pregnant women working outside of the home say their employer has done a risk assessment and they are following it
  • 32% say they cannot socially distance at work and they have not been provided with protective equipment
  • In total 76% of pregnant women working outside of the home say they cannot socially distance at work
  • 57% of pregnant women working outside of the home say they do not feel safe at work


Press Releases and Research

Never Miss Out {{ responseTitle }}

Sign up to the Pregnant Then Screwed mailing list so you can stay in the loop on our latest campaigns and achievements as well as tips on how you can help end The Motherhood Penalty {{ responseMessage }}
Whoops. The form is invalid.
  • {{ value }}.