Sickness absence due to ‘morning sickness”
In light of the news that the Duchess of Cambridge had to cancel a recent appointment due to suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), or as more commonly known, extreme morning sickness, I wondered just how this affects the average employer; and just what support can be offered to both employee and employer.
It is reported that over *30% of women in paid employment will need to take time off work due to suffering from nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Of these women one in 100-150 will be admitted to hospital because of the condition.
Most employers are aware of ‘morning sickness’ but may not be aware of the impact that this can have on a woman’s ability to carry out their tasks during the working day. Even the simplest of tasks may become difficult. HG is episodic with periods of recovery and relapse and consequently if a woman returns to work too soon it may result in a relapse. Rest is the key for anyone suffering from this condition.
Employers should be aware of the following when finding out about an employee’s pregnancy:
You are entitled to request medical evidence of incapacity to work. Follow your sickness absence procedures.
Sick pay – The usual company sickness payment rules apply as you would apply to employees who are off sick for other reasons.
Discrimination – Once a woman becomes pregnant, it is unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, if treated unfavourable because of her illness due to pregnancy.
Unfair dismissal – If dismissed because of pregnancy, the woman will be able to bring a claim for compensation before an employment tribunal.
If your employee is absent on a long-term basis, keep in touch. Consider a phased return to work and see if there are measures that you can take to make this as easy as possible e.g. shorter working days.
If you require further information and support regarding sickness absence please contact the advice line and speak to a Qdos employment law expert. Alternatively, we have a range of guides and information online to help you.
If you are not a client and wish to know more please contact us
Attendance management – HR guide
Managing absence and sickness – downloadable documents for clients
* Source: PSS registered charity