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Original article

Vol. 152 No. 2324 (2022)

Evaluation of a pilot consultation for maternity protection at work in Switzerland

  • Peggy Krief
  • Zakia Mediouni
  • Alessia Abderhalden-Zellweger
  • Dominique Kerr
  • Nesi Seraj
  • Saira-Christine Renteria
  • Julien Vonlanthen
  • Brigitta Danuser
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30160


STUDY AIMS: Switzerland’s Labour Law and its Ordonnance on Maternity Protection aim to protect the health of pregnant employees and their unborn children while enabling them to continue to pursue their professional activities. Some companies encounter difficulties implementing the law’s provisions. The Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, part of the Center for Primary Care and Public Health (Unisanté), has provided specialist occupational medicine consultations for pregnant employees since 2015. This study aimed to evaluate how well Swiss’ maternity protection legislation is implemented by examining a list of relevant indicators measured during the occupational health consultation. The study also sought to investigate the consultation support provided to the relevant stakeholders and the adjustments made to pregnant employees’ working conditions.

METHODS: Descriptive variables and indicators relative to the application of the Swiss maternity protection legislation for 83 pregnant employees were collected during the consultation’s pilot phase (between 2015 and 2016). Descriptive statistics and cross-analyses of these indicators were made.

RESULTS: Most pregnant employees faced multiple exposures to occupational risks. Preventive risk analyses were rare. Few adjustments to workstations were proposed. We found a tendency for employees to leave their workstations early on in their pregnancies due to sick leave certificate prescriptions. Specialist consultation and collaboration with occupational health physicians to recommend interventions for pregnant employees can provide significant benefits and help some pregnant women to continue at their workstations with appropriate adjustments.

DISCUSSION: A specialised occupational health consultation is a useful instrument for identifying occupational hazards for both the pregnant woman and her unborn child. It is also an opportunity to explain employers’ legal responsibilities and obligations to safeguard the health of their pregnant employees and to give specific advice for their company’s situation. This consultation also enables employers to maintain their employees’ valuable professional competencies in the workplace for as long as possible. Finally, occupational health consultation helps and supports healthcare providers who must, according to the law, make decisions about whether pregnant employees can continue working safely or not.


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