Managing Pregnancy and Maternity in the Workplace

Mother’s Day is on the way and employers might be thinking “How can I manage pregnancy and maternity in the workplace?” If an employee tells you they are pregnant, here’s a few things we think is helpful to know.

 

Ante-natal appointments

You will need to allow your pregnant employee reasonable paid time off to keep appointments for antenatal care, which are made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or registered health visitor. You can’t ask for evidence of the first antenatal appointment, but you can do for subsequent appointments.  If you are unsure of what evidence you are permitted to request, you should contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for advice.

Did you know it’s not just pregnant employees who have the right to time off when it comes to ante-natal appointments? Expectant fathers and a pregnant woman’s spouse, partner or civil partner are entitled to take time off work to accompany her to a maximum of two antenatal appointments. However, for them there is no statutory right to pay for this time off.

 

Taking Maternity Leave

Your employee will usually need to notify you of her intention to take maternity leave by the end of the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth, unless it is not reasonably practicable for her to do so. She will need to tell you that she is pregnant, the week she expects her baby to be born and the date she intends to start maternity leave.

To help you and your employee prepare we have a Maternity Leave Plan available on request. Whilst it is not a requirement for it to be completed it can help with good communication. We can also assist you with responding to a maternity leave notification from an employee.

 

Rights and protections

Women have a number of rights and protections when it comes to pregnancy and maternity, these include:

  • Terms and conditions during maternity leave – whilst on maternity leave a woman is entitled to benefit from all the terms and conditions of her employment that she would have enjoyed if she had been at work. The exception to this is that she will not be entitled to remuneration.  However, you need to pay her maternity pay if she qualifies for it.

There can be some tricky areas for employers when it comes to terms and conditions for employees on maternity leave, so it’s important to ensure you seek advice on the facts of your situation where required.

  • Pregnancy and maternity protection – pregnant women and those taking, seeking to take or who have taken maternity leave shouldn’t be treated unfairly. It’s automatically unfair to dismiss a woman because of pregnancy or maternity. There are also the rights not to be discriminated against or subjected to a detriment on those grounds.

Employers can sometimes inadvertently find themselves falling foul of the law, so it’s important to seek advice where needed, particularly if you are considering taking action such as addressing conduct or performance issues with a pregnant employee or proposing redundancies which may affect a pregnant employee or a woman on maternity leave.

If you would like assistance with an employment law matter, please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.

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