It’s always great news to hear that an employee is expecting a baby, even if it may bring with it challenges for your business.
There are many things you will need to consider before and during maternity leave, so make sure you take all the necessary steps for a smooth and fair process…
Get up to date with the law
Before you do anything, you’ll need to be informed and up to date on all your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to pregnant employees. This could include what time off they are afforded, what documentation should be given and when, in addition to the health and safety implications that will need to be risk assessed.
Have a 1-1 meeting with the expectant mother
It’s important that you set some time aside to sit down with your employee to discuss their pregnancy in more detail, such as any antenatal appointments they currently have, if they have decided on the date they wish to commence or return from maternity leave, and to carry out a pregnancy workers risk assessment, which will assist you managing the circumstances.
You may have already communicated your policy to your employees in your employee handbook, or you may have a separate standalone policy informing staff of how the business manages pregnancy and their rights.
Additionally, once in receipt of the appropriate medical information you will also be required to communicate with your employee in writing formally agreeing their start and end date of maternity leave and what if any maternity pay they will receive whilst they are away from the business.
Keep up to date with them
Following your initial 1-1 meeting, you should keep regular communication in place as pregnancy is unpredictable and different for every woman so it’s important that you understand one person’s needs may differ to the next person.
Ensure that you are aware of continuing antenatal appointments they may need time off for, changes to leave and start dates, and any adjustments that might need to be made to their working environment.
It’s also important to show your employee that they can approach you should they need any support.
Carry out a risk assessment
Though your risk assessment should already account for pregnant employees, once you find out an employee is in fact pregnant, it is highly recommended that you should carry out a separate risk assessment throughout the pregnancy, as depending on the job role, risks could present themselves as the pregnancy develops.
The assessment should identify any risks or hazards associated with the pregnancy especially if the work carried out by the employee poses a risk to her or her baby.
Prepare some cover if necessary
As maternity leave draws closer, you will need to start thinking about what needs to be in place once that employee is away.
If you require temporary cover then you may need to start a recruitment process, if their workload can be dispersed amongst the remaining employees you will need to inform them of their new responsibilities and possibly even train them.
If you require any external support regarding maternity leave or any other HR matters, then Guardian Support can provide you with a professional and experienced consultant. Find out more about Maternity and Paternity Rights here. To book a free consultation today, please call us on 0845 2626 260.