This is a subject that affects many of us, and it is the same concerns that always comes up. Will you be getting reduced hours when you return? What does it look like in the future? This can be extremely unsettling for families. It is also a very daunting time personally, and it is important as a manager to support your employee. It can be as easy as having procedures in place.
Having become a dad again earlier this year, I know the impact this has on people and it's important employers consider this. You can also check out our video below on this subject.
1. Legal Requirements
As an employer, you have legal and statutory requirements that you have to comply with. When the employee is due to start their maternity leave, they have rights in how much time they are entitled to. Pregnant employees are entitled to take 52 weeks for their maternity leave.
If employees meet the criteria for statutory maternity pay, they are entitled to 90% of their average earnings for the first six weeks. The next 33 weeks are paid at the current statutory pay, and the Last 13 weeks are unpaid. If you can engage in a conversation early, you can find out your employees plans in terms of this. Legally, females must have at least two weeks statutory leave for health and safety reasons.
An employee’s circumstances may change during their maternity leave, leading them to decide to return to work earlier than planned. As an employer, you are expected to accommodate this.
look at a risk assessment in terms of work. Are there any adjustments you need to make? Is there anything you can put in place to help them during their pregnancy? It is good to do a risk assessment throughout the pregnancy. Agree if that is reasonable and review it every four to six weeks. What might be ok at the start, might be different later down the line.
Retailers are known to restrict their staff from eating or drinking in certain areas of the store. In this case, you can look at your company rules and relax them slightly. It can be very warm this time of year, it is important to provide your employee with plenty of water.
Pregnant employees are entitled to take time off for ante-natal appointments, managers have a legal responsibility to authorise this. There have been cases where staff members have been forced to take holidays in order to attend important appointments. This is not acceptable.
2. The Employees Responsibilities
Legally, employees are expected to provide their employers with a MAT B1 form, confirming the expected week the baby is born. This gives you an opportunity to start to formulise a written response. You can look at when the maternity leave is likely to commence, their payments for the first 6 weeks, and the remaining 33 weeks.
Employees must notify you that they are pregnant fifteen weeks before their due date. In many occasions, this is a rarity and female employees notify their boss before this. They usually wait until the twelve-week scan is completed. Employees may have to tell you before the twelve-week mark if their work responsibilities affect their health. You will have to remain confidential.
If your company policy states that any unused holidays must be taken and can’t be carried over, this isn’t the case for maternity leave. Staff can use any of their entitlement before they start their maternity leave.
In a lot of cases, female workers will try to use their holidays, so they can start their maternity leave as close to the baby’s birth as possible. This is something you can put in place with your employee and put it in writing.
4. Keep Communication Channels Open
Make the initial conversation positive. Congratulate your employee and find out when the baby will be born. If you create a positive communication channel from the beginning, your employee will feel more comfortable to share their future plans with you. This will give you the opportunity to plan ahead.
It can be effective to plan what contact your employee is comfortable with during their maternity leave. They might feel isolated from the business, and regularly keeping them up to date will reassure them they remain an integral part of the company. There are certain aspects of your business that you have to communicate. This can be recruitment opportunities and promotions. This can be completed through email or posting a newsletter. Any significant changes must be communicated.
Your employee may also want to keep communication to a minimum when they are not working. It is important to agree what is a regular and appropriate conversation in advance.
Pregnant employees can share maternity leave with their partners. Families very rarely run with this idea, but it is important that you make your employee aware of this, and it’s part of your communication.
5. Keep in Touch Days
Keep in touch days gives employees the opportunity to come in and work in your business, getting paid their normal rate of pay. This will impact on their maternity benefits. It is good to communicate that with the employee before they start their maternity leave, and confirm that in writing.
Some employers try to enforce this and insist you have to come back through keep in touch days, this isn’t the case. It is a joint agreement.
It is usually put in place just before the employee comes back to work, allowing them to get back into a routine and settle back into the company.