Pregnancy, nursing and work

Pregnancy, the first few weeks after delivery as well as nursing time are periods in which mothers benefit from special rights as well as specific protection measures. 

The protective provisions in the order of the Federal Department of Economy, Training and Research (DEFR), also called the Maternity protection order OProMa, applies to any hazardous or difficult work during pregnancy or maternity.

Below you will find the activities for which protective measures are required, according to the conclusions of the risk analysis at the beginning of the pregnancy and sometimes until the end of nursing. Risk activities are summarised in the summary table by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Additional information in SECO brochures:

Pregnant employees

Guide for employer

Maternity protection measures

Additional maternity protection measures:

Summary table (SECO)

  • Overview


    • A risk analysis must be carried out by a hygienist or occupational doctors for work that is difficult or hazardous. To receive your risk analysis, please contact the occupational hygienist at the University as soon as possible, ideally once you learn of your pregnancy.
    • The risk analysis must be carried out by a specialist; results are provided in writing, as well as recommended protection measures.
    • You are entitled to have access to any information required for the risk analysis and assessment of the situation at the workplace.
    • For hazardous or difficult work: a medical certificate must be issued if the work is carried out without limitation or under certain conditions, or even if the work has to be stopped. A medical discharge must also be issued for subjectively hard work.
    • On request, a medical certificate of unfitness for work can be issued by the gynaecologist based on the conclusions of the risk analysis. This legal provision is not of the same order as sick leave which the gynaecologist can issue during the pregnancy, related to its progress. This is a certificate declaring the unfitness of the pregnant woman for the work and the legal orders on maternity protection.
    • Pregnant women or pregnant persons in smoking areas: pregnant women or pregnant persons, or nursing mothers must not be exposed to the effects of hazardous chemical substances, that could be harmful to the mother and the child, such as passive smoking.
    • Pregnant women or pregnant persons and nursing mothers must be able to lie down and rest in suitable conditions (nursing or rest rooms, infirmeries, etc).
    • Checking the state of health and effectiveness of protection measures lies with the obstretrician.
    • The employer ensures that women or persons concerned are provided with all suitable information and instructions.
    • The employer bears the costs of the expenses provided in Arts. 2 and 3 of the Federal Maternity Protection Order OProMa (corresponding to protection measure checks).

      Risk analysis

  • Working time


    • Pregnant women or pregnant persons and nursing mothers who cannot do certain work due to their difficulty are entitled to 80% of their salary when no equivalent work is offered to them. The UNIFR Occupational Safety and Health Department will seek with the employee or person concerned and their line manager to find solutions to keep the pregnant woman or pregnant person working for their employer.
    • Work only with consent: upon simple notice, pregnant women or pregnant persons or nursing mothers may stop going to work or leave their job, even without presenting a medical certificate, without them thus committing a breach of their contractual duties. The employee must nonetheless inform their employer of their absence. If the employee does not go to work, upon simple notice and without impediment to work within the meaning of Art. 324a CO, she has no entitlement to the payment of the salary.
    • No overtime and a maximum limit of 9 working hours pe day until the end of the nursing period, even if a longer duration has been agreed in the employment contract.
    • Any employer who breaches the orders on special protection for pregnant and nursing women, where it acted deliberately or negligently, may be sanctioned.
    • No night or team work when this concerns particularly hazardous activity within the meaning of Articles 7 to 13 of the Federal Maternity Protection Order OProMa. No work that requires a regular reverse rotation; no more than three consecutive nights of work.


    Risk analysis

  • Difficult work and hazardous substances

    Hard work or those related to hazardous substances must not imperil the health of the mother or the child. This includes : 

    • moving heavy loads;
    • movements and positions that lead to early fatigue;
    • works accompanied by shocks, impacts and vibrations transmitted to the body;
    • works at high or low temperatures and those exposed to humidity;
    • works involving harmful rays or noises above 85 dB;
    • works involving hazardous chemical substances or microorganisms;
    • highly restrictive working time organisation systems.


    Risk analysis


The employer is prohibited from firing the employee throughout pregnancy and until 16 weeks after birth.

Additional information