Top tips for a smooth maternity leave

In fact, you’re likely to have someone within your organisation who’s having a baby, or has recently had one. So, here’s my top tips to managing a smooth maternity leave and a few for the mother herself to aide her time away.

1. Timing of announcement
There is a fine balance between when you, the business owner, want your employee to tell you so you can cover off the health and safety concerns and start planning for their absence, and when they want to tell you so they don’t feel they are treated differently as a result of being pregnant. There is still a fear of many mums-to-be that they will not get offered that great promotion or be given really lousy jobs once it becomes common news. So when is best to know? It’s normal that the news is shared after the 12 week scan when mum-to-be knows everything is ok.

2. Celebrate the news (appropriately)
It’s the employee’s news not yours – allow them to share it with whom they wish, while also ensuring you have covered all the legal bases you need to. Don’t rush around telling everyone – after all not everyone needs to know now do they?

3. Maternity Risk Assessment
There is no legal requirement to conduct a specific, separate risk assessment for a new or expectant mother. However, should you choose to do one the link below is a useful guide http://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/index.htm As a minimum, sit down and ask the ‘mum-to-be’ about her work and what pressures or concerns she may have and see what measures you could put in place to support her.

4. Share Maternity rules and rights early on
There are a whole host of timelines and expectations in terms of notifications. It is important to share these as soon as possible. The key ones are:

  • Antenatal care – the employee is entitled to reasonable paid time off during working hours to attend antenatal clinics or to receive antenatal care.
  • When to take maternity leave – the company must be told 15 weeks before the baby is due, and the leave cannot actually start earlier than 11 weeks before the baby is due. If the employee wishes to change the date they must give 28 days’ notice.
  • Rights during leave – the contract of employment continues and your employee is entitled to receive all their contractual benefits, except for salary. Any benefits in kind (such as life assurance, private medical insurance, permanent health insurance, private use of a company car or laptop and gym membership) will continue; annual leave entitlements will continue to accrue and pension contributions will continue to be made. Salary will be replaced by statutory maternity pay (SMP) if the employee is eligible to receive it.
  • When to return –assume the new mum will be taking 52 weeks. If she wishes to come back before that she must give you eight weeks prior notice.
  • Rights upon return – she has the right to return to the job in which she was employed before going on leave. If resuming work after AML, again she is entitled to return to the same job as before commencing leave however, if it is not reasonably practicable, you may offer her a suitable alternative, on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than had she not been absent.

5. Lose the maternity jargon

  • Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) – this is the week in which the baby is due (as stated on form MATB1 which the GP or midwife will complete).
  • Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) – is the 26-week period of maternity leave to which all pregnant staff are entitled.
  • Additional Maternity Leave (AML) – is the further 26-week period of maternity leave to which all pregnant staff are entitled, up to a 52-week period in total.
  • Compulsory Maternity Leave (CML) – the two week period immediately after childbirth when an employee MUST not work for her employer.
  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) – payment by the employer to qualifying employees.

6. KIT days
No not making a kit car, but Keeping in Touch days. These are up to 10 days the new mum can use to come back into the work place to do as it says on the tin – keep in touch. She gets full pay for that day and doesn’t lose any of her maternity pay. She doesn’t have to use them, but if she wants, make sure they are useful days to both you and her.

7. General actions
Talk to the ‘mum-to-be’ about such things as:
• Who would they like to deal with their mail (internal and external)? Would they like to see everything, or would they prefer to receive copies of key memos or letters?
• Do they want to be in regular contact with work, or prefer to have a complete break?
• To what extent would they like to be kept up-to-date with individual clients or projects with which they were involved?
• Consider if maternity coaching is appropriate – be proactive to minimise any issues and ensure that on returning to the workplace the new mum is able to operate at their full potential quickly, rather than be reactive to problems when they arise.
All these will make the transition smoother and help set parameters for you both to understand.

8. And finally… if you are the ‘mum-to-be’ think about:
Timesheet and expenses – input one the period up to and including your last working day along with any outstanding expense claim forms.

If you have a laptop or a mobile phone provided by your employer you should inform IT/Telecoms that you are going on maternity leave.

Out of Office – If you are an office based employee you should leave an out of office message on your email in order to notify people writing to you that you are not at work. This message should also contain the name of the person(s) who can be contacted in your absence.

Childcare – Should you intend to return to work it is strongly advised that you look for childcare as early into your pregnancy as possible. Many nurseries have long waiting lists and this should be seriously taken into account.

So our future Queen is not the only woman to have had a baby and she certainly won’t be the last. I hope you feel a little better prepared to make the transition smoother?

For more help and advice about maternity issues or maternity coaching contact us at www.threedomsolutions.co.uk or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions


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Cat Macdonald

Cat Macdonald has worked across a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, engineering and media at senior management level in Human Resources. Now with Threedom Solutions she works with large plcs & smaller local concerns specialising in HR service provision, Team Coaching and Training solutions. As a working parent she is passionate about supporting parents in the workplace and also developing employee's Resilience in the workplace.
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http://www.threedomsolutions.co.uk

Cat Macdonald has worked across a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, engineering and media at senior management level in Human Resources. Now with Threedom Solutions she works with large plcs & smaller local concerns specialising in HR service provision, Team Coaching and Training solutions. As a working parent she is passionate about supporting parents in the workplace and also developing employee's Resilience in the workplace.