Doctors have published a new guide on pregnancy in the workplace to provide advice for pregnant women and mothers returning to work and to help medical practitioners and employers understand and meet their responsibilities.
The Guide to Pregnancy and Work (PDF 3MB)
, which was developed by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM), a Faculty of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, highlights the benefits of a supportive workplace.
On the issue of working while pregnant, President of AFOEM, Associate Professor Peter Connaughton said:
“It is a human right, not a privilege, for a woman to work while she is pregnant. Working should be a positive experience that employers support unequivocally.
“Pregnancy-friendly workplaces can play a role in supporting healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Being supportive and flexible means they can retain skilled employees and reduce absenteeism throughout pregnancy, which is good news for workplace productivity.”
On the issue of equal opportunity, the Guide says that medical practitioners and employers need to be aware of the relevant legislation in their jurisdiction to ensure that employees are not disadvantaged during pregnancy, after the birth of their child or due to their responsibilities as a child’s primary carer.
Associate Professor Connaughton said that employers should support mothers returning to work, especially mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding.
“Employers must develop and implement policies and procedures regarding pregnancy at work that are non-discriminatory, flexible and comply with relevant legislation,” Associate Professor Connaughton said.
“One of the most common reasons that women stop breastfeeding is because they need to return to work, so employers should consider the needs of breastfeeding mothers returning to work.
“We hope this Guide will assist employers in providing supportive and safe, pregnancy friendly workplaces and facilitate return to work following pregnancy and parental leave, promoting healthier lifestyle choices in the long term.”
The Guide supports the Health Benefits of Good WorkTM
, an AFOEM initiative that is based on compelling Australasian and international evidence that good work is beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing.