Guidance for doctors who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Recommended reasonable adjustments for pregnant doctors

Updated: Tuesday 9 July 2024

Whilst supporting other local initiatives, we would at a minimum recommend that the following adjustments are made for pregnant doctors at their request.

Pregnant doctors, at any stage in their pregnancy, have the right to request exemption from on call duties. On-call duties are any duties which require immediate attendance to emergencies, night shifts, and long shifts (over 10 hours).

  • Due to the mental and physical fatigue caused by on call duties and night shifts, employers should facilitate and ensure pregnant doctors can be exempt from them.
  • Pregnancy can have differing effects on doctors at different times, and it should therefore be in the prerogative of the doctor to make this request of exemption.
  • During a pregnancy, there should be an allowance to return to full duties if requested by the doctor.
  • Pregnant doctors should have an absolute right of confidentiality if they need alterations to their employment, especially earlier in the pregnancy. For example, any disclosure of pregnancy should be purely on the need to know basis and only with the agreement of the doctor concerned.

The employer must accept these requests or provide written explanation for their refusal within two weeks of the request being denied. We would expect as standard these requests to be accepted. Considering the significant need for swift resolution on this, we would expect employers to be quicker implementing exemptions than the expected contractual six-week timeline.