As a manager or as a business owner, hearing the news from an employee about a pregnancy is often accompanied by mixed feelings. Naturally you’re delighted for the individual, or the couple, but there is also concern of how the loss of the employee during their maternity leave will impact your area of work or your business.
There is also a concern about caring for the woman during her pregnancy with respect to her current roles and responsibilities. Knowing what to do (and what not to) can help to reduce the stress, anxiety and possible concerns of both the woman as well as the team manager.
Know the Safety Requirements for Employees
The requirement is for the employee to notify the employer of her pregnancy. Once this notification is made, there are several steps that the employer must take to provide a safe working environment that is free from discrimination or unfair treatment due to the pregnancy.
The first and most important safety step is to complete an assessment of both the working conditions and the specific tasks the employee is required to complete as part of her job. This risk assessment identifies any tasks, working environments or other factors that may pose a risk to the health of the employee or the unborn child.
If any such issues are discovered, the employer must eliminate the risk by removing unsafe conditions or tasks. In many cases, alternative working arrangements can be made to mitigate the risk while allowing the employee to continue in her current role. Managers should seek specialist advice and air on the side of caution if there is any doubt or uncertainty..
It is worth remembering that these same alternative arrangements may be required when the woman returns to work after her leave. Women who are breastfeeding should not be exposed to specific types of chemicals, processes or potential contaminants during this time. In many cases, the employee’s doctor may recommend modifications or work accommodations, if there are concerns for the health and safety of the mother or baby as the pregnancy progresses.
Employees must be provided with paid time off from work to attend ante-natal medical appointments. The number of appointments can vary from woman to woman and between pregnancies.
Women with specific health issues or those with high-risk pregnancies may require more frequent medical visits. You may require the employee to present an appointment card or record for the visits, but the employee is not required to provide the employer with specific details of any issues about the pregnancy.
You are required to provide any work accommodations and to follow the recommendations of the medical professional in modifying work requirements during the pregnancy.
The employee will be provided with a MATB1 certificate by their health professional around 20 weeks of pregnancy. This will need to be given to HR/payroll provider to organise maternity payments.
As an employer you should always strive to provide a family-friendly workplace, where expectant mothers are treated fairly and without discrimination. Unfortunately, too many women face unfair or discriminatory treatment during a pregnancy, despite it being unlawful. This may be from supervisors or managers but also be from colleagues.
Support for pregnant employees to help them prepare for their leave and recognition of the importance of the family within the work culture is the most effective way to address these issues proactively. Training for managers can also help enormously. Managers should familiarise themselves with the organisation’s policy relating to pregnant employees and maternity leave.
Start Planning the Transition
In the UK, all women are required to receive at least two weeks of time off after the birth without the option to return to work, and this is extended to four weeks if the employee works in a factory setting. Women are entitled to take up to 52 weeks for maternity leave before returning to work.
Women returning within 26 weeks are legally entitled to come back to the same (or similar alternate) position, seniority level, salary and hours. Should she choose to take more leave up to the full 52 weeks, she is entitled to these same return conditions or return to a reasonable alternative job that is equal in terms and conditions as her previous role. Employees may be entitled to share their leave with a partner through Shared Parental Leave arrangements.
Planning transition early helps your business to prepare for filling the position during the maternity leave. This also makes it easier for the employee, as she can assist in training her replacement and helping to ease the transition for other team members.
It is very common for employers and employees to agree on Keeping in Touch days, or other types of communication during the leave. This allows the new mother to have information on changes in the business, to participate in training or corporate events and to stay current on matters impacting her role, ready for her return.
Working together, you can also agree on payments or benefits during these contact days. All contractual benefits are provided as if she were at work during her maternity leave.
There are various decisions to be made before and during leave which need to be communicated to the employer. Through the Family Care Leave programme offered by CM Talent, women learn more about their options, ensuring they are prepared for the essential conversations with their managers.
Through our online support programme or one to one coaching services, expectant mums are guided by a highly trained coach to ask questions, explore options and understand the possibilities to manage their leave and interactions with their employer.
Through both the online programme as well as the coaching services, expectant mums understand the transition from work and back again. This helps to relieve any stress and anxiety around the transition. Our services aim to build confidence and comfort in stepping away from their professional role and in planning a return for when their leave is complete, as they adjust to becoming a working parent.
Enrolling expectant mums in our Family Care Leave programme is an easy, effective and beneficial way for the employer to provide a level of support that goes beyond the basics of what is required. At the same time, the employee feels valued, respected, and cared for – critical for retaining employees and creating a family-friendly workplace culture.
Our services are also suitable for partners, encouraging informed and supportive co-parents.
To learn more about our Family Care Leave programme and coaching along with our support for employers, call us today on 07912 944 945 or email [email protected]