New and Expectant Mothers and Young Persons

An employer must ensure that the health and welfare of new and expectant mothers (abbreviated to NEMs) and Young Persons isn’t compromised by the work that they are carrying out.

New and Expectant Mothers

Medical science states that a woman’s body doesn’t return to physical normality until 12 months after giving birth.  As soon as you are aware that a worker is pregnant, you must ensure you complete a risk assessment with her.  A New and Expectant Mother Risk Assessment template and a completed New and Expectant Mother Risk Assessment example are provided for reference.

The pages in this category will explain exactly what you must do, and please also check the Irregular Risk Assessments page in the Risk Assessment category.

We recommend that you also liaise with your HR Department, as there is crossover between the H&S and HR legislation.


  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Young Persons at Work

Young workers face and present different hazards from the rest of the workforce, and these must be demonstrably managed by the employer.  The page on Irregular Risk Assessments in the Risk Assessment category will explain to you how to manage the safety of a young person by conducting a person-specific risk assessment.  The control measures identified in this risk assessment must be fully implemented (as with any risk assessment) and regularly discussed with the young person to make sure they remain relevant.

Another important point to remember is that when a young person turns 18, he or she doesn’t magically become sensible and safe overnight, so the monitoring should continue in some form (agree this with your HR department).  There may no longer be a legal requirement to risk assess the new adult, but we strongly recommend that you continue to monitor their safety.


  • The Management of health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Health and Safety Myth

Responsibility for the safety of young people is the same, regardless of their age

When attending a high wire adventure park, a customer’s daughter (aged 17) was prevented from taking part as she had a small stud earring that could not be removed.  She was advised that if she was over 18 she could do the activity.

The adventure park’s rules state that taping of rings and earrings is allowed as an alternative to removing them, so it is very difficult to understand why this young lady was refused access to the activity simply because she had a stud earring which could not be removed.  The site organisers have further confused matters by stating that there is a difference in their level of responsibility towards 17-year-olds versus 18-year-olds when their responsibility is the same regardless of age.

Frequently asked questions

Potentially, yes, as long as you have spoken with the HR department and made them aware of the health and safety legislation that applies.

Your first duty is to your protect your employee.  If climbing the stairs is causing her problems, then she must not use them – could she work from home?  You should also ask her to inform her GP of the situation and ask for his/her advice which, once obtained, you must follow.

Is it possible to find her workspace on the ground floor?  If it is, you must monitor her to make sure she isn’t feeling isolated and out of the work loop.  Maybe you could ask a colleague to be moved to the ground floor with her.

If it isn’t possible to move her, then you must find an alternative place for her to work, probably at home, but you can also consider hot-desking at another location.  If she does end up working away from the office, you must monitor her (see the Homeworking category).  This means regular, scheduled contact, a number and/or email for her to use at any time during her working hours and ensuring that she has a good workstation at home.

Once you are satisfied that your pregnant employee is safe and her welfare provided for, you must contact your landlord and remind him/her of the duties they have under health and safety legislation.  Check the Premises category for more about this – if you are armed with the correct information, it is much easier to fight your corner.  It is unacceptable to have a lift that is frequently out of service, especially as you will be paying for this facility as part of your rent.

From a health and safety point of view, you need to know whether an employee has given birth within the preceding 12 months so that you can protect her health and welfare.  A woman’s body doesn’t return to  full physical normality for a year after the birth.  Usually, this means making sure the mother takes DSE assessments every 3 months (rather than the recommended annual assessment) until the baby is a year old.  Additionally, she may have other health issues to be taken into consideration, maybe as the result of a difficult birth.

However, it is important that you liaise with HR before asking prospective employees questions which might be covered by data protection rules.  You should agree the recruitment process with HR before asking personal questions which could cause offence or worry.