The law defines certain kinds of work as hazardous to the health and safety of pregnant or breastfeeding women and It distinguishes between two kinds of hazardous work:
- Work which is hazardous because it involves risks associated with a physical element (e.g. Lifting or carrying of loads of over 5 kilogrammes (11 pounds), work which has to be carried out in a standing or a crouching position...);
- Work involving biological or chemical agents.
In these situations, the employer is obliged to make appropriate temporary arrangements concerning working conditions or working hours. Should new arrangements prove to be technically impossible or not feasible, the pregnant woman must be allocated to another post without prejudice to her salary.
In the case that no alternative posting is possible, the pregnant woman is exempt from work.
An appraisal of what constitutes hazardous work as well as decisions relative to new arrangements, postings or exemption from work are based on the opinion of the occupational doctor.
Night work/Post transfer
Pregnant women may not be expected to work between 10 pm and 6 am if a competent occupational physician deems this necessary for reasons of safety or health; the same applies to a woman who is breastfeeding her child up the child's first birthday.
Once the conditions referred to above have been fulfilled, the employer, with the assent of the occupational physician, is obliged to transfer the employee in question to a day post at the same rate of pay as before, and that for the entire period that the operational physician deems necessary in the interests of her safety or health.
The employer is obliged to front, on behalf of the health insurance fund, the difference in pay resulting from the transfer from night work to day work.
If a transfer to day work is not technically and/or objectively possible, or cannot reasonably be expected for properly justified reasons, the employer is obliged to exempt the employed woman for all the time judged necessary by the operating physician to safeguard her safety and/or health.
In the case of a transfer from night work to day work, Article L. 333-3 of the Labour Code enables the employer to obtain on request the reimbursement from the CNS (National Health Fund) of the difference in sums paid, including employers' contributions.
The reimbursement is a one-off payment made after the commencement of maternity leave, the employer declaring to the Joint Centre for Social Security (CCSS) the difference between the former remuneration and that payable for the day work.
In order to benefit from the health care benefits concerning exemption from work or from the provisions concerning night work, the employer must refer to the competent occupational physician.
Upon presentation of the favourable opinion of said physician, together with a copy of the employer's request as well as the medical certificate indicating the predicted date of delivery, the payment of benefits becomes the responsibility of the health insurance fund.
The level of maternity allowance corresponds to that applicable in the case of sickness or accident.
The monthly allowance is not to exceed the current minimum wage (used for this purpose as a benchmark) by more than a factor of five.