How do we ensure our pregnant employee is safe to fly?
As a bonus, we are taking our staff on a trip involving a domestic flight. There will also be outdoor activities. Our concern is that we have an employee who will be 35 weeks pregnant at the time of the trip. This employee is already struggling to spend a whole day at work due to discomfort caused by the pregnancy.
We are aware that the airline requires a medical certificate for the employee to fly that confirms (among other details) the due date and that the employee is safe to fly. Could you please advise if there any other precautions we should be taking?
Generally speaking, under health and safety legislation employers have an obligation to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees and not expose them to risks. If, upon review by your company, the risk of injury to your employee or her unborn child in boarding the flight and attending the function and participating in the outdoor activities, cannot be sufficiently mitigated or eliminated, the employee should not attend the function. We assume that risk is likely significantly exacerbated due to the late stage of the pregnancy.
As a starting point, we would recommend that you:
- obtain a medical certificate in the form requested by the airline from the employee’s doctor;
- obtain written confirmation from the employee’s doctor immediately prior to the function dates that the employee is fit to fly and attend the function; and
- abide by any additional obligations imposed by the airline.
It is also worth noting that any decision made to refuse the employee’s attendance on your proposed trip would not discriminate against the pregnant employee so long as there is clear medical basis for the refusal.