The objective of this Directive is to protect the health and safety of women in the workplace when pregnant or after they have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding.
Under the Directive, a set of guidelines detail the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered dangerous for the health and safety of pregnant women or women who have just given birth and are breast feeding.
The Directive also includes provisions for physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.
Pregnant and breastfeeding workers may under no circumstances be obliged to perform duties for which the assessment has revealed a risk of exposure to agents, which would jeopardize their safety or health. Those agents and working conditions are defined in Annex II of the Directive.
Member States shall ensure that pregnant workers are not obliged to work in night shifts when medically indicated (subject to submission of a medical certificate).
Employers or the health and safety service will use these guidelines as a basis for a risk evaluation for all activities that pregnant or breast feeding workers may undergo and must decide what measures should be taken to avoid these risks. Workers should be notified of the results and of measures to be taken which can be adjustment of working conditions, transfer to another job or granting of leave.
The Directive grants maternity leave for the duration of 14 weeks of which 2 weeks must occur before birth.
Women must not be dismissed from work because of their pregnancy and maternity for the period from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of the period of leave from work.
Annex I - Non exhaustive list of agents and working conditions referred to in Art.4 of the directive (assessment and information)
Annex II - Non exhaustive list of agents and working conditions referred to in Art.6 of the directive (cases in which exposure is prohibited)
See also further documents of the European Commission on that topic:
Communication from the Commission on the guidelines on the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered hazardous for the safety or health of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, COM/2000/0466 final
Report from the Commission on the implementation of Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the health and safety at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, COM/99/0100 final
Evaluation of the Practical Implementation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Directives in EU Member States - Directive on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding (pregnant / breastfeeding Workers Directive) (2017)