Myth of the month: do I have to be put on sick pay because I can’t do my usual work during pregnancy?
“My employer has put me on sick pay because I can’t do my usual work during pregnancy”
This is wrong. You should not be put on sick pay if the reason you can’t do your usual work is because it is not safe for you or your baby. You are entitled to protection from your employer in this situation – you should not be penalised because of it.
The law says that if you can’t do your normal job because it involves a health and safety risk to you or your baby, your employer must either:
- remove the risk – for example, avoiding heavy lifting if this is usually part of your job; or
- if the risk cannot be removed, offer you suitable alternative work on the same pay.
If neither option is possible, your employer must suspend you on full pay for as long as the risk continues – which could be right up until the point you start your maternity leave.
If you receive less than full pay or are put on sick pay in this situation then you will have a complaint of pregnancy discrimination as your employer is treating you unfavourably because of your pregnancy. You may also be entitled to claim full pay from your employer by making a claim for ‘unlawful deduction of wages’ in an Employment Tribunal.
Also, if you are forced to take sick leave and you don’t receive full pay, you may lose all or most of your Statutory Maternity Pay. if you do not receive full pay from your employer when you are off sick and/or your earnings drop in approximately weeks 18 to 26 of your pregnancy, your SMP may be reduced. Your SMP depends on what you actually receive during the calculation period. If you only receive Statutory Sick Pay during this period you will not qualify for SMP, as you need to earn the lower earnings limit to qualify.