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Agency workers and pregnancy

This advice applies to England

Your basic rights

Like all workers, you should not face discrimination because you're pregnant. For example, an agency can't:

  • end your job or not offer you work - unless it's for a health and safety reason
  • treat you worse than other workers
  • refuse you  work.

If you think you’re being treated unfairly because you’re pregnant, find out what help you can get with discrimination at work.

Are you entitled to Statutory maternity pay (SMP)

You can get SMP if you meet the qualifying conditions. If you don't qualify for SMP, you might be able to get Maternity Allowance. You can find out more about SMP and Maternity Allowance

Are you entitled to maternity leave?

You won't be entitled to maternity leave unless you're an employee of the agency. 

If you're not entitled to maternity leave, you can try to agree some time off with your agency or the organisation which has hired you.

Are you entitled to the same contractual maternity pay as workers employed by the organisation which hired you?

You're not entitled to equal contractual maternity pay, even if you have worked forthe organisation for 12 weeks.

Do you have to tell the agency or organisation that's hired you that you're pregnant?

You don't have to tell your agency or organisation. 

However, if you don't tell them and you've worked for the hiring organisation for 12 weeks, you won't have a right to:

  • paid time off for ante-natal appointments

  • a specific pregnancy health and safety risk assessment

  • alternative work or pay if you are unable to complete your assignment due to the pregnancy

You can find out more about health and safety risk assessments when you're pregnant

Do you have a right to paid time off to attend ante-natal classes and appointments?

When you have worked for 12 weeks with the same organisation, you're entitled to paid time off for antenatal classes and appointments. You must be paid at your current hourly rate for each hour of work you miss. The agency can ask you to provide proof of your appointments and ask you how long you will need to take off to attend them.

You should avoid taking time off work where you could reasonably arrange classes or appointments outside working hours.

Can you accompany a pregnant woman to an ante-natal appointment?

You can take unpaid leave of up to 6 hours and 30 minutes to accompany a pregnant woman to 2 ante-natal appointments. To be eligible to do so, you must be an employee of the agency or have been working for the same organisation for 12 weeks. You must also be:

  • the baby's father
  • the woman's spouse, civil partner or partner (including same-sex partner) in an enduring relationship, or
  • the intended parents in a surrogacy situation who are entitled to and intend to apply for a parental order for that child

Can an organisation refuse to let you return to the job you were doing before you had your baby

It may be discrimination if they refuse to take you back into the job you were doing before.

This will depend on your circumstances.

For example, there may be a case for discrimination where, although you're an agency worker, you have worked for the same organisation for a number of years and they could easily have allowed you back to work after your maternity leave.

Next steps

If you think that you may have been discriminated against because you are pregnant, find out what help you can get with discrimination at work.

More information

For other basic employment rights, see Agency workers - what you need to know.

For new employment rights, see Additional rights for agency workers.

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