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Guide to managing maternity leave

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Our Guide to Managing Maternity Leave streamlines the complex process, ensuring compliance and smooth transitions for both employees and managers.

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What is a Guide to managing maternity leave?

The purpose of a manager's guide to maternity leave is to provide managers with a comprehensive understanding of their responsibilities in supporting employees who are taking maternity leave.

It aims to provide guidance on how to manage and support employees through the process of taking maternity leave, while ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and company policies. It also helps managers to understand the potential impact of maternity leave on team dynamics and to prepare for managing the workload during the employee's absence.

Guide to managing maternity leave
guide to managing maternity leave

What legal and best practice aspects should employers be aware of?

Here are some key UK employment legislation related to maternity leave:

  • The Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999, which set out the minimum amount of maternity leave that must be provided to employees.

  • The Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy or maternity.

  • The Maternity Allowance and Statutory Maternity Pay Regulations 1987, which provide the framework for maternity pay entitlements.

  • The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014, which allow eligible employees to share leave and pay with their partner following the birth or adoption of a child.

  • The Employment Rights Act 1996, which provides employees with the right to return to their job after maternity leave.

  • The Flexible Working Regulations 2014, which provide eligible employees with the right to request flexible working arrangements, including changes to their working hours, location, or job duties, to support their work-life balance.

Guide to managing maternity leave


Introduction

Maternity leave is a vital benefit that empowers employees to take time off work for the care of their newborns. As a manager, comprehending your legal and ethical responsibilities is vital. This comprehensive guide will not only demystify the maternity leave process but also provide valuable insights on how to proactively support your employees throughout this significant phase of their lives.

Eligibility

All pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave, irrespective of their length of service or working hours. To meet eligibility criteria, employees must duly inform you about their intention to take maternity leave, provide legitimate evidence of their pregnancy, and confirm the anticipated due date. Moreover, they should have maintained continuous employment for at least 26 weeks by the conclusion of the 15th week preceding the expected week of childbirth.

Duration

Maternity leave encompasses a period of up to 52 weeks. Employees are authorized to commence their leave up to 11 weeks before their anticipated week of childbirth. Although they must take at least 2 weeks off following childbirth (4 weeks for factory workers), they retain the freedom to return to work prior to the culmination of their maternity leave should they opt to do so.

Pay and Keep in Touch Days

During the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, employees are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) at 90% of their average full pay. SMP continues for up to 39 weeks, with a current rate of £151.20 per week (as of April 2023). Additionally, employees are granted up to 10 "keep in touch" days during maternity leave, enabling them to stay connected with work matters and facilitating a seamless return.

Accumulating Holiday Pay

Employees continue to accrue holiday entitlements while on maternity leave, ensuring they have paid leave available upon their return to work.

Communication and Return-to-Work Expectations

Consistent and transparent communication during maternity leave is integral. Employees are encouraged to communicate their intended return-to-work date at least 8 weeks in advance. However, flexibility is paramount, and any changes to return-to-work dates should be communicated promptly, allowing ample time for necessary arrangements.

Flexible Working Arrangements and Requesting Extended Leave

Upon returning, employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, such as part-time or remote work, to better balance their work and family responsibilities. It's important to note that while employees can request an extension of maternity leave beyond the standard 52 weeks, the employer is not obligated to grant it.

Redundancies and Right to Return

Employees on maternity leave have special protection against redundancies. If redundancies occur during maternity leave, you are required to offer suitable alternative employment if available. Upon returning, employees must be reinstated in their previous role or a suitable equivalent position.

Support

Displaying empathy and providing robust support during this pivotal period is crucial. Equip employees with comprehensive information about their rights, entitlements, and available resources. Consider offering flexible working arrangements to enable them to effectively manage their work and family obligations.

Conclusion

Embracing the complexities of maternity leave underscores a manager's commitment to their team's well-being. By fostering a supportive environment, understanding legal requirements, offering flexibility, adhering to communication expectations, and ensuring fair pay, managers can help ensure a smooth transition for their employees. Remember, each employee's situation is unique; therefore, open dialogue and tailored solutions are key.

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