Suspension Due to Pregnancy on Medical Grounds During Coronavirus
Pregnant women can only continue working during the coronavirus pandemic where the risk assessment supports this. Public health/government guidance which categorises pregnant women as ‘clinically vulnerable’ during the pandemic, meaning that they are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, strongly advises pregnant women to follow social distancing measures such as working from home and avoiding public transport wherever possible and this should be taken into account when conducting a risk assessment.
Whilst it is possible to withhold full pay from an employee who refuses alternative employment that the Company considers suitable, it is likely to be very risky to do this. Where the employer refuses to pay them for the period of suspension or places them on furlough on reduced pay for this reason whilst the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme remains in place (rather than topping up their reduced furloughed wages to 100%); or where a risk assessment identifies that a suspension on health and safety grounds is required, they may present a complaint to an employment tribunal.