Expecting a baby? Find out what your rights and obligations are, and what protection you enjoy.
Are you pregnant? Congratulations! Enjoy the life that’s growing in your belly. This checklist tells you exactly what your work-related rights and obligations are and what protection your can expect on the work floor - from the minute you’ve become pregnant till the moment you stop breastfeeding.
Tell your boss
Notify your employer. No need to feel shame or guilt. Just bring your boss your happy tidings, directly.
- When? Most women wait until after the first three vulnerable months of pregnancy.
- How? You can inform your boss orally, in writing or via e-mail. We suggest you schedule a meeting and tell him or her personally and matter-of-factly: it is much more elegant, and it lays the foundation for a positive collaboration. Be sure to also deliver him the news officially - by registered letter. If you choose to hand the letter to him, ask him for a signed copy as proof of receipt.
- Medical certificate. Give your employer the pregnancy certificate with the expected delivery date – you’ll get that from your doctor or gynaecologist. Send it registered - at least 7 weeks (9 weeks for a twin or triplet pregnancy) before your expected due date .
Protection against dismissal
From the moment you’ve notified your employer of your pregnancy, you enjoy an extra protection against being dismissed for being pregnant or giving birth.
- No absolute protection. Your employer may not fire you for having a baby. He or she can however still terminate your employment contract for reasons unrelated to pregnancy or childbirth - for example, when your department closes down. He must then be able to prove that his reasons for letting you go are valid and non-discriminatory.
- For how long? Your protection against dismissal lasts until one month after your maternity leave or the extension of your maternity leave. Are you taking postnatal days of rest after your maternity leave? Then period in which you are protected runs till one month after the end of this period.
Information provided by the boss
Within two weeks following your official notification, your employer must make a risk assessment of the potential hazards and health risks in your workplace - for you and your unborn baby. He must inform you about it.
These health and safety risks include:
• Physical: shocks, vibrations, heavy lifting, ionizing radiation and extreme heat or cold, dangerous movements, or postures.
• Organic: agents that are dangerous to the mother, the foetus or the baby (bacteria , viruses, ... ) .
• Chemical agents with numbers R 40, 45, 46, 47, 49; hazardous or carcinogenic products that you ingest through the skin, pesticides,...
• Heavy working on the yards, in the mines, manual work in stressful conditions
Measures against risks
Are you and your unborn or suckling child exposed to health risks at your workplace? Then your employer must take immediate steps to protect you against them. He can temporarily assign you a different job, move your workspace, or give you preventive protection leave. In that case you will get a replacement income of the health insurance fund, which amounts to 90 % of your gross salary.
Working overtime? Baby says no!
Don’t let guilt tempt you into working longer and later in the weeks preceding your maternity leave. Once you are pregnant, you are not allowed not work overtime, or perform work that harms you or the health of your child.
For pregnancy check-ups or medical examinations which cannot take place outside normal working hours, you are entitled to paid absence. Always inform your boss beforehand. And give him or her medical certificate - if he / she asks for it or if you work rules or collective agreement so demands.
Do you breastfeed your baby? Inform your employer about it - right after you resume your work. He or she must then consider whether you are exposed to the risks mentioned above. If you are, your boss immediately has to take measures.
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