Employers who manage maternity leave as proactively and positively as possible are more likely to achieve a gender balanced workforce and to attract and retain talented employees after they’ve had children. Here’s some of our top tips on planning for an employee going on maternity leave.
Don’t delay making plans
Start discussions and begin planning as soon as possible. This will help ensure a smoother process and ensure everyone feels supported. It could also prevent any recruitment mistakes if you do decide to appoint maternity cover, as you won’t be doing it in a rush.
Gather key information
Before you make any decisions, sit down with the employee and get a full understanding of their current role and any upcoming projects. Involve their line manager in the discussions if needed. People’s roles tend to evolve, especially in small businesses where they can be diverse with lots of different responsibilities. Use the opportunity to ask the colleague for their suggestions on the best cover option.
Consider all options
Potential options include covering the role internally by sharing out work among colleagues. If this is an idea you want to explore, be transparent and involve all colleagues who would be affected. Make sure the extra workload would be manageable and won’t cause resentment. Internal cover can also be created by an existing employee stepping up into the position and recruiting a temp to fill their role. The employee who steps up will have plenty of existing experience and internal knowledge, but consideration needs to be given to how they will feel when their colleague returns. Alternatively, you may decide that the best option is to recruit maternity cover externally.
External recruitment support
If you’ve never recruited on a maternity basis before, it may seem like a daunting process. At Pure, one of our specialisms is temporary recruitment and we regularly place candidates in maternity fixed term contracts or short-term roles. Our expert consultants can guide employers through everything, from administration through to understanding the regulations around short-term contracts.
Plan for smooth transitions
When recruiting temporary employees to cover maternity, factor in some handover time for them to spend with the person they will be filling in for before they go on leave and to hand back over to the employee when they return. This makes the transition period much smoother for all involved.
Discuss how to keep in touch
Whatever cover option you choose, don’t forget about your existing employee while they are gone. Discuss with the employee how and when would they like to be contacted? What information they’d like to receive? Open lines of communication are key to maintaining a good relationship and engagement levels on return. As part of maternity leave employees are also entitled to up to 10 paid Keep in Touch or KIT days. There’s no obligations in either side to do KIT days, and no hard and fast rules. For a start, they don’t even have to be full days. But they can be very beneficial and can be used for the employee to join team away days, training courses, conferences or team meetings.