Do we have to provide alternate work to a pregnant worker?
We currently have a tradesperson who has indicated she is pregnant. We have heard it may be a safety concern for her to continue in her current role while pregnant and we would like to offer her an alternative ‘safe duties’ administrative office role during her pregnancy.
Are we able to offer her a salary that may end up being less than the hourly rate she currently receives as a tradesperson? Would it be up to her to accept or decline this offer?
Generally, you can offer her the changed role and give it to her if she freely consents, but you need to recognise that if she declines you may not be able to move her into that position unless there are clear and justifiable health and safety grounds to do so. Otherwise you may expose yourself up to unlawful discrimination or adverse action on the grounds of pregnancy.
You should also note that under the Fair Work Act, if the employee gives you evidence, e.g. a medical certificate, stating that she is fit for work but that it is inadvisable that she continue in her present position because of hazards connected with that position or risks arising out of her pregnancy – then if there is a job available you must transfer her to an appropriate safe job, with no other change to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment.
This includes no change to her full rate of pay and the same ordinary hours of work.