The third quarter of the year traditionally sees a little peak in the UK birth rate, so you may well find you have one or more employees announcing a pregnancy in the next few weeks. Effective management of something as high profile as a pregnancy is great way of showcasing what a good employer you are. Conversely getting it wrong can reduce morale and increase stress levels for you and your teams.
With this in mind it makes sense to have a few top tips up your sleeve to give you the best opportunity to turn the situation to your advantage.
Make sure all your maternity and paternity policies and processes are up to date
If you have clear processes for managers and employees to follow in advance you can often save yourself a big headache later, because everyone knows what to expect and you can ensure all your legal obligations are being met. It may seem strange to suggest you have your paternity policy up to date, but having an up to date policy is a good way of informing colleagues about the additional paternity leave regulations that came into effect last April, and increase your chances of being able to share the burden of maternity leave with another business.
Plan for the future
Good planning is essential. As soon as an employee announces a pregnancy you should start thinking about how you will manage the following:
- Unplanned absences due to pregnancy related illness. How will workloads be redistributed so that good workplace relations are maintained with all colleagues but productivity is maintained?
- Planned absences for antenatal care. Employees have a right to have reasonable paid time off to attend these appointments. However, it is not unreasonable to ask a woman to request that her appointments are at the beginning or end of the day if there is considerable travel time to the appointment which may not be near work.
- Maternity leave. While you do not need to start arranging cover immediately it is surprising how quickly those weeks can fly by. Start thinking about what options might be best to suit your business to avoid a panic later.
Remember every woman and every pregnancy is different so it is important to build in some flexibility to any plans and to make sure all staff affected by the changes understand what is expected of them. Which leads into the final point…
Maintain good relations
- Keep communication channels open. Do not make assumptions about what a pregnant employee can or cannot do when making changes to duties or responsibilities. Always ask and consult in the same way you would with any other employee when implementing changes but be sensitive to her needs and feelings. It is just as important not to forget about other employees who may be impacted either directly or indirectly by a colleague’s pregnancy so take action to make sure communication with those employees is effective too.
- Continue to manage performance. If you have concerns about an employee’s performance pregnancy does not prevent you from addressing them. While you may need to be a little more careful and ensure you take some good advice, it is perfectly possible to continue to manage performance and indeed it is essential to address underperformance issues for the good of the whole team.
If you’d like advice on managing pregnancy in your business contact us on 0800 180 4998 or email [email protected].