Know your rights- 5 things that every working pregnant woman and nursing mother should know

Know your rights- 5 things that every working pregnant woman and nursing mother should know

As soon as a woman is pregnant, working and informs her employer about her pregnancy, she is protected from being released from her contract. This is widely understood. But what rights do you have apart from that?

Inga has combed through the MuSchG- the law book concerning working mothers and has collated some facts for you:

1. If your work primarily involves walking and standing, your employer must provide you with the possibility to sit down. From the end of the 5th month, this type of work may only be done for 4 hours consecutively, otherwise there is an employment ban (§4).
The same applies the other way around: If your work involves long periods seated, you must be able to stop working and move around (§2),

2. Your employer is obligated to take certain measures in order to protect the health of your baby, for example by offering a place on the premises where you can lie down to rest or a place to feed the baby (§1 and §2),

3. For what type of work can or must an employment ban be put into place? Generally there is an employment ban during maternity leave, other than if you declare in writing that you are fit to and want to work. However, during maternity leave following the birth (8 weeks from the birth date of the baby) there is an absolute employment ban.

Hard physical labour where you regularly lift more than 5kg or sometimes 10kg is strictly forbidden. The same applies for work with hazardous materials (chemicals, radiation, microorganisms), extreme temperatures  or work that needs to be carried out whilst bending down or crouching.

For women who perform the following work:

  • Piece-work or assembly line work with a stipulated speed
  • Transportation, from the end of the 3rd month
  • Wood stripping
  • Operating devices and machinery with a treadle drive

It’s important to know that a doctor can impose an individual employment ban any time (§4).

4. Pregnant women and nursing mothers may not work (§8):

  • between 20:00 and 06:00
  • on Sundays and public holidays
  • over 8.5 hours per day / 90 hours in 2 weeks (minors under 18 years, maximum 8 hours per day)

Exceptions for pregnant women up to the end of the 4th month and nursing mothers:

  • Women in gastronomy and the hotel business until 22:00
  • Women in agriculture from 05:00
  • Artists and actors etc. until 23:00

5. Nursing mothers must be allowed to take either 2 half hours or a full hour per day free to breastfeed. If you work more than 8 hours consecutively, you can take up to 2 x 45 minutes or 90 minutes if there is no place to breastfeed.

An employer has to allow this time and may not dock pay, force you to work overtime to compensate or offset against the breaks to which you are legally entitled (§7).

Special nursing rooms can be ordered by supervisory bodies. It’s worth asking!

For all mothers (-to-be) who work with chemical, biological and/or physical hazards, it’s worth looking over the MuSchArbV (Enactment for the protection of mothers in the workplace). Here you can find a list of the hazardous substances, with which pregnant women are forbidden to work.

In summary, I can only say that it’s immensely important for your own protection and the protection of your child to familiarise yourself with the regulations in the MuSchG and MuSchArbV, in order to avoid dangerous situations.

Since I can’t fit in every point here, I would recommend reading the laws and enactments closely or speaking to a lawyer specialising in employment law. All the best, Inga

  1. Ich gebe dir völlig recht Inga,

    aber leider kennnen viel zu wenige werdene Mütter oder Eltern das Mutterschutzgesetz. Da fehlt es auch an Aufklärung.

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