work on a violent psychiatric ward or you won’t get paid’

Jasmine* is pregnant, therefore at higher risk from Covid-19. But her employer is refusing to make allowances. She tells her story here…


It is scary being pregnant and working in healthcare during the pandemic. I work in a secure psychiatric ward. I take pride in my job but it isn’t easy; I’ve been punched, kicked, spat at in the face. But I keep turning up to work to help my patients navigate the darkest moments of their lives.

Now, though, my bump feels like a target. I feel scared about anything that might harm the baby, and vulnerable. 

When the Government announced pregnant women were at higher risk from the virus and told to follow social distancing guidelines strictly, my employer informed me I was not allowed into work. Their plan for me was half pay, which would have resulted in a significant loss of income for me and I was terrified about how I would provide for my baby.

Then, their position changed and I was asked to come back because I was under 28 weeks pregnant and therefore ‘not at risk’ – something I informed them was incorrect. If I refused I would have to take unpaid leave until I was 28 weeks, when I could then claim company sick pay.

I was completely panicked; I could either go without any wages for eights weeks, which is not a financial option for someone getting paid just above minimum wage, or spend 12 hours a day in a locked building with no windows, and no way to maintain a two metre distance from the other people in there.

Thankfully, I was able to find some guidance from Pregnant then Screwed and wrote to my employer, remindeding them of the regulations and asking to be put on medical suspension, as they themselves had stated there was no alternative work that they could offer me.

They quickly responded with an office-based role for me, although better it was still by no means the safest option. What was worse, the role was fewer hours, therefore less money – and I was barely on minimum wage as it was.

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