Workplace safety: The For a Safe Maternity Experience Program

Workplace safety: The For a Safe Maternity Experience Program
The For a Safe Maternity Experience Program allows pregnant and breastfeeding workers to continue working safely.

Do you believe that your work poses a risk to your health or the health of your unborn child? You have the right to be assigned to other, non-hazardous duties that you are able to perform. Here are the options available to you.

A program to protect pregnant and breastfeeding workers

If the job you are doing during your pregnancy is hazardous to your health or to the health of the fetus, you may be eligible for the For a Safe Maternity Experience Program administered by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). The goal of this program is to allow pregnant and nursing workers to continue working safely.

Hazardous working conditions

Certain working conditions may present hazards to a pregnant worker, their unborn child, or their nursing baby. For example:

  • Using chemicals or being exposed to radiation
  • Being exposed to dangerous viruses (e.g., childhood diseases, in the case of daycare workers)
  • Performing physically demanding tasks (e.g., heavy lifting)
  • Doing a type of work that involves physical safety risks (e.g., police work)

What can you do if your job is hazardous?

During pregnancy

If you are working in conditions similar to any of those described above, or if you are concerned about another workplace hazard, talk to your doctor, specialized nurse practitioner, or midwife. They will assess whether your working conditions present any physical risks to you or your baby.

If your health care provider believes that your working conditions present a hazard, they are required to do the following:

  • Complete the Preventive Withdrawal and Reassignment Certificate for a Pregnant or Breastfeeding Worker (French only). This certificate is provided for free.
  • Consult with the physician in charge of health services at your place of work or the physician designated by the Direction de la santé publique to determine the hazards that your working conditions may entail. This consultation is required for the certificate to be valid. Your doctor, specialized nurse practitioner, or midwife will then sign the certificate and give it to you.

The next step is for you to submit the certificate to your employer. This constitutes your request to be reassigned to other duties. If it is impossible for your employer to reassign you, you may be entitled to preventive withdrawal. The CNESST will determine whether your indemnity claim is eligible and whether you can benefit from the For a Safe Maternity Experience Program.

While breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding and you believe that your working conditions could be harmful to your baby’s health, you should follow the same steps as you would during pregnancy. Even if you received a certificate during your pregnancy, you will need to request another one to justify your preventive withdrawal or reassignment for the duration of the period that you are breastfeeding. However, only hazards that would impact your child’s health will be considered when evaluating your case.

Who is not eligible for this program?

Some pregnant or breastfeeding workers are not eligible for the CNESST For a Safe Maternity Experience Program. These include self-employed workers whose businesses are not incorporated, workers employed by federally regulated businesses (such as banks and telecommunications companies), and workers employed outside Quebec or by an employer who does not have an establishment in Quebec.
In addition, if a health problem, rather than a workplace hazard, prevents you from working, you will not be able to receive CNESST benefits. You will need to take sick leave or start your maternity leave.

What does your employer need to do?

Upon receipt of the preventive withdrawal and reassignment certificate, your employer must determine whether they can eliminate the hazards identified in it. If they can’t, they must see to it that your duties are modified, that your workstation is adapted, or that you are offered a safe alternative position. If you are reassigned, you will retain your regular salary.

If the hazards cannot be eliminated, your duties cannot be changed, or you cannot be reassigned to a different position, you may stop working. You will receive your regular salary for the first five business days. Thereafter, you will receive 90 percent of your net salary. This amount is not taxable.

Note that the maximum annual insurable salary for 2023 is $91,000. Therefore, if you earn more than this, you will receive less than 90 percent of your salary. You will remain eligible for the income replacement indemnity until four weeks before the week of your expected due date. From that point on, you can start receiving benefits from the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) if you qualify.

For more information, contact the CNESST.


I am expecting a child | Commission des normes de l’équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail – CNESST (

By phone

Things to keep in mind

  • If your work poses health risks to you or your unborn child, talk to your doctor, specialized nurse practitioner, or midwife.
  • You will continue receiving your regular salary if you are reassigned to other duties.
  • If your employer cannot provide you with a work environment free of the hazards listed on the certificate, you may stop working and receive compensation from the CNESST.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Commission des normes de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST)
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: January 2023


Photo: GettyImages/Steve Debenport


Sources and references

Note: The links to other websites are not updated regularly, and some URLs may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, please use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Doré, Nicole, and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • Commission des normes de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail. “For a Safe Maternity Experience Program.”