If one of your team told you they were pregnant today, would you know what to do?
I think all of us would know to say congratulations and ask them how they are, but do you know what your legal obligations concerning pregnancy and maternity leave as an employer are?
Do you know what you must do? Do you know what best practice is within agencies?
What is the law?
The purpose of the law is to protect the health of mothers and their babies and minimise the difficulties and disadvantages that working women face because of giving birth and having children. And let’s face it, there are many!
What rights do mothers have?
- The right not to be discriminated against – Pregnancy and maternity are protected characteristics
- The right not to be unfairly dismissed – It is automatically unfair to dismiss a woman (at any time) or to select her for redundancy for a reason connected to pregnancy/maternity leave
- The right not to suffer a detriment – An employee has the right not to be subjected to a detriment by her employer for a prescribed reason e.g. pregnancy, childbirth or maternity
The easiest way to explain this is to use what we call the “because of” test. If you find yourself saying “I’m not inviting her to training because of her pregnancy”, it’s likely to be unlawful.
There are lots of other things you need to make sure you do in your agency such as a pregnancy risk assessment, allowing reasonable paid time off to attend appointments and to ensure they can take their maternity leave and pay entitlement.
What else should you do?
So that’s the law, but what else do good agencies do? Pregnancy and maternity leave come with a whole range of different emotions, so it’s important that you treat your employee as an individual.
The best advice we can give anyone is to keep up the communication. Check in with them more than usual. Remember that the support needed might be different at different stages of the pregnancy.
Often contact is hit and miss during maternity leave, so before they go off, make sure you have a chat and agree on what contact will be made.
What about paying enhanced maternity leave?
Oh absolutely! At the Agency Collective, we suggest that if you can pay this, please do. It’s a hard enough time as it is, and an expensive one at that. If you can give your employee one less thing to worry about, we promise you it will help with retention and morale in your agency. Employees stay where they feel rewarded, safe and happy. Paying enhanced maternity leave really does make all the difference and sets you apart from other agencies.
I help agencies with all things HR and people related.
If you are a member of the Agency Collective (and if you aren’t a member, why not?), you get me included in your membership. I am on hand to help agency founders with their every day HR challenges.
Our aim at the Agency Collective is to make the life of agency owners easier and to look after the humans behind the agency and to help them run happier, healthier agencies. I do that by giving simple and pragmatic HR advice, lots of support and guidance where it’s needed. We also run exciting events that help build new skills and knowledge.
I am passionate about helping people managers not only do things right, but to do the right thing – sometimes the two are very different.
When I am not talking about all things employment law and HR, I enjoy inspiring others to help the young people of today into the world of work (that means lots of work with schools) and changing a little corner of the world.