Since the new Maternity Protection Act came into force on 1 January 2018, maternity protection risk assessment is mandatory for every workplace. The transitional period to prove this assessment expires on 31 December 2018.
The new Maternity Protection Act stipulates that every employer must assess possible risks to which a pregnant or breastfeeding woman or her child is, or may be, exposed for every job. Companies should prepare for possible changes following from this obligation, and women have the right to inform themselves about risks and protective measures before they become pregnant.
This obligation of the employer exists regardless of whether a man or a woman is currently carrying out the activity. He must check whether there is a possible danger for pregnant women or nursing mothers related to the specific activity. This applies to every activity—not every workplace (cf. § 10 para. 1 MuSchG)—regardless of whether it was ever filled or is to be filled by a woman.
This risk assessment must include an assessment of the potential hazards of the activity considering the following aspects:
Exposure to chemical substances
Exposure to biological substances
Hazards generated by working conditions and manufacturing processes
In addition, the necessary protective measures to be taken in the event of a pregnancy should be included in the risk assessment.
Depending on the results of the assessment, the following constellations are conceivable.
The employee may continue to work to the same extent as before; no measures are necessary
Protective measures must be taken
The employee muss not continue with the activities
After having been noticed of a pregnancy, the employer must specify the risk assessment. The necessary protective measures must be defined and taken.
The employer must keep the expecting or breastfeeding mother employed during pregnancy and after childbirth and set up her specific workplace and working conditions in a way that she is adequately protected from risks to her health. The woman must only continue with her occupation when the necessary protective measures have been taken.
In addition to these protective measures, the employer must offer the woman a conversation about further adjustments to her working conditions, § 10 (2) MuSchG.
Without a specific cause, the risk assessment must be completed by 31 December 2018. With a cause, the assessment must be carried out immediately.
If on 1 January 2019 the employer cannot prove that a risk assessment has taken place, he or she faces fines of up to €5,000.