Sick leaves among healthy pregnant Croatian healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic due to loopholes in the occupational safety system

  • Tea Samardžić PROTEGO Healthcare Institution, Koprivnica, Croatia
  • Roko Žaja University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Andrija Štampar School of Public Health, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Jelena Macan Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Zagreb, Croatia
Keywords: biological hazards, occupational exposure, pregnancy, risk assessment, risk mitigation, work ability

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore occupational safety in pregnant Croatian healthcare workers (HCWs) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To this end we composed an anonymous questionnaire that included pregnancy data, risk assessment and mitigation, and workplace intervention and distributed it to HCWs through social media of their groups and associations. The study includes a total of 173 respondents (71.1 % physicians, 19.7 % nurses, 9.2 % other HCWs) diagnosed with pregnancy in 2020 and 2021. Employers were notified about HCWs’ pregnancy at the eighth (IQR 7.0–11.0) week of pregnancy, which delayed workplace risk assessment and mitigation beyond the first trimester. Only 19.6 % of the participants had the risk assessed and mitigated, mostly on their own initiative (76.5 %). After notifying employers about pregnancy, 37.0 % of participants opted for temporary work incapacity (TWI) due to “pregnancy complications” despite healthy pregnancy, 16.8 % were granted a pregnant worker's paid leave at the expense of the employer, while 5.8 % continued to work at the same workplace. Nurses used the TWI benefit more frequently than physicians (58.8 % vs 30.1 %, P=0.004). Our findings suggest that occupational safety of pregnant HCWs in Croatia lacks clear-cut and transparent strategies to protect pregnant HCWs, forcing them to misuse the healthcare system.

Published
2024-06-18
How to Cite
1.
Samardžić T, Žaja R, Macan J. Sick leaves among healthy pregnant Croatian healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic due to loopholes in the occupational safety system. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol [Internet]. 2024Jun.18 [cited 2024Jul.14];75(2). Available from: https://arhiv.imi.hr/index.php/arhiv/article/view/1718
Section
Original article

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