Pregnancy in the workplace can be a delicate topic, as it has been subject to employee discrimination in the past. However, it’s a workplace topic that shouldn’t be avoided and it’s important that you address it. Here are some ways to best manage a policies regarding a pregnant employee from the moment you are told the news to the day she returns to the company after maternity leave.
As soon as the employee informs you of her pregnancy, hold a meeting with her manager or supervisor to properly discuss the next steps and the best way to cover her role while she is on maternity leave. The sooner you get a ‘maternity cover’ job advertisement out there, the better. This can be done through social media posting, job agencies and recruitment websites. If you choose to delegate the employee’s work to existing employees instead of hiring cover, ensure that tasks are distributed evenly so that everyone doesn’t end up with too much of an increased workload, as this will cause disruption and could even demotivate staff.
It’s a clever idea to carry out a risk assessment for any pregnant employees, and you must do what is needed to prevent any potential risk that has been found as a result from the assessment. Try and complete this assessment a few times during the pregnancy as her needs may change throughout. This may include moving the employee in question to a different workstation or considering the opportunity of working from home.
Stick to your Policy
You must carry out all steps from your company policy beginning with holding a meeting with the pregnant employee and any managers she has. In the meeting discuss your workers rights and entitlements, ask her about her plans and talk through the maternity leave policy you have in place. Answer any queries she has, which might include when she starts her leave, how long she will be off and so on. This will help avoid confusion and helps you manage her leave smoothly. Double check that all managers and supervisors are fully aware of the obligations and rights of the business and pregnant individual, check their knowledge by asking them questions and answer anything they may be unsure of.
Keep up the Communication
A week or so before your employee is due to leave, have a casual meeting with her asking how much contact she would like to have whilst she is out of the workplace and her preference of method for keeping in contact. This will make her feel appreciated and very much still in the loop when returning from maternity leave. Keep in mind that you should let her know of any promotion opportunities as well as other company news during her leave and still send newsletters or social events. Even though she may not attend, it’s nice to make all staff feel included.
When your Employee Returns
Hold a welcome breakfast or lunch for the employee when she returns from her maternity leave to try and make her feel comfortable as she is likely to feel nervous returning to work after such a long leave of absence. It is important to inform her immediately of any changes to her role whilst she is on leave, so that she will be aware of what to do when returning to her job. It’s important to be aware that any sick days taken by an employee due to a pregnancy-related sickness must not be counted in her total sickness record. You must record each absence separately.
You must never treat a female employee in a negative way because of her maternity leave. Agree her return date before she leaves and don’t put pressure on her while she is away. Appropriate treatment will have her feeling ready and motivated to return and helps build your employee loyalty.
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