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How to apply for a reassignment or preventive withdrawal if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Under the For a Safe Maternity Experience Program (SMEP), a pregnant or breastfeeding worker may be reassigned or granted preventive withdrawal. The objective of the SMEP is to allow a pregnant worker whose working conditions are physically dangerous for her unborn child or for herself because of her pregnancy to continue working. A breastfeeding worker could also be eligible for the program if her working conditions are physically dangerous for her breastfed child.

Steps to follow to apply for the SMEP if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

1. Consult a professional who provides pregnancy care or postnatal care

First, you must consult a professional who provide pregnancy care or postnatal care (in French only) if you think that your working conditions are physically dangerous for your unborn or breastfed child or for you because of your pregnancy. During your consultation, you must:

  • explain your working conditions and your concerns about your pregnancy or your unborn or breastfed child; for example, describe your workplace, the duties you perform or the products you use
  • ask them to complete the Reassignment or preventive withdrawal certificate for a pregnant or breastfeeding worker (in French only) if they think it is unsafe
    • The professional will indicate on the certificate the number of the protocol that corresponds to your working conditions. You and your employer can refer to it to find out the hazards as well as any changes that could be made to your job to make it safe.
    • If no protocol corresponds to your working conditions, the professional who is providing your pregnancy care or postnatal care will have to consult the physician in charge of health services in your establishment or the public health director of the region in which your establishment is located to obtain a medical-environmental report. This report identifies the hazards and working conditions associated with your job as well as any changes that could be made to make your duties safe. Your professional will have to give you a copy of the report.
    • The professional who is providing your pregnancy care or postnatal care must certify that you are fit to work in order for you to be eligible for the For a Safe Maternity Experience Program
  • Your professional will give you 2 copies of the certificate, one for you, one for your employer.

2. Give the certificate to your employer

You must give your employer a copy of the certificate signed by the professional who is providing pregnancy care or postnatal care. This is your request for reassignment. Your employer may offer you a reassignment at any time during your pregnancy or while you are breastfeeding.

While on reassignment, you must report for work. If you think that the reassignment offered by your employer is unsafe or if you feel unable to perform the duties, you may contest your reassignment. If reassignment to another position or other duties is not possible, you may be entitled to preventive withdrawal.

If the CNESST determines that your request for preventive withdrawal is admissible, you will be able to receive an income replacement indemnity.

When the CNESST receives the Reimbursement claim for the preventive withdrawal of a pregnant or breastfeeding worker (in French only) from your employer, a file will be opened for you at the CNESST.

If the CNESST determines that you are not eligible for preventive withdrawal under the SMEP, you may contest the decision.

3. Sign up for direct deposit to receive the income replacement indemnity from the CNESST

Once you have obtained your file number from the CNESST, you can sign up for direct deposit to facilitate the payment of your indemnity.

4. Inform the CNESST if your date of delivery changes

If your date of delivery changes, this may affect payment of the income replacement indemnity. You or the professional who provides your pregnancy care must inform the CNESST no later than 28 calendar days before the date of delivery indicated on the certificate.

You can send us a document signed by your professional attesting to the change of date. The CNESST must have received this document no later than 28 calendar days before the date of delivery indicated on the certificate.

5. Obtain a new certificate for the breastfeeding period

If you think that your working conditions may be unsafe for your breastfed child, you must consult a professional who provides postnatal care. The professional will have to complete and sign a new certificate to attest that your work involves hazards for your breastfed child. You must give this new certificate to your employer.

Filing a complaint

If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your employer when exercising one of your rights under the SMEP, you may file a complaint related to a dispute with your employer.

Laws and regulations

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