Bosses need to look after their pregnant employees. But there’s a lot more to it than offering them decaffeinated tea, seat cushions and flexible working hours. Check out our top five tips to supporting pregnant workers.
1) How to Respond to Pregnancy News
While women have a right to a career and a family, for many sharing their pregnancy news with work is still a daunting prospect. As a manager, you need to be approachable, supportive, and open-minded when you find out. Keep abreast of the company’s maternity policies, regulations, and benefits. And ensure that you keep an open dialogue with women about their maternity needs.
2) Create a Maternity Leave Policy & Accommodate Antenatal Appointments
Create an easily accessible maternity leave policy to help employees understand their rights and any supplementary benefits your company offers. Pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care, including appointments and classes recommended by their healthcare professionals. For hassle-free antenatal meetings, allow employees to come in later, leave early or work remotely. And talk to your accountants about setting up Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for eligible employees. This can be paid for up to 39 weeks at 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax for the first six weeks. And the remaining 33 weeks at £156.66 or 90 per cent of their AWE - whichever is lower.
3) Conduct a Workplace Assessment
Legally, you must complete a workplace assessment to ensure it is a safe space for new or expectant mothers. Keep any health and safety risks under review throughout their pregnancy. Talk to your employee about any necessary changes to their work environment before you make any adjustments. And if that is not possible, provide them with alternative work on the same pay.
4) Make Sure Your Employee Does Not Face Any Discrimination
Research shows that pregnant employees, supported by their colleagues, are less likely to suffer from prenatal stress and postpartum depression. They also physically recover quicker following childbirth[i]. It is against the law to treat someone unfavourably because they are pregnant, have a pregnancy-related illness, are breastfeeding or are on maternity leave. Managers must take steps to prevent pregnancy discrimination at work and offer a flexible, hospitable, and positive environment for women.
5) Let’s Talk
Ever feel ‘out of the loop’ when you’ve just returned to work after a holiday? Imagine what it feels like when you’ve been out of the office for a year! Let your employee know about any changes that could affect her and any new posts or upcoming promotions. While new mums will undoubtedly have their hands full, many women still want to maintain contact with work during their maternity leave. Add them to the weekly or monthly round-up email, encourage them to catch up with colleagues over the phone or video calls or undertake Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. KIT days keep employees up to date with key company developments and help to break up their time away from work. Employees can work up to 10 KIT days without losing their entitlement to maternity pay.
Disclaimer: The information & tips in Blueberry’s Pregnancy package are intended as a guide. Nothing in the pack is to be taken as gospel. Any reliance you place on the info is up to you peeps.
[Copyright © 2022 Angela Kunawicz & Blueberry Marketing Solutions. All rights reserved.]
[i] Jones, K.P., Brady, J.M., Lindsey, A.P. et al. The Interactive Effects of Co-worker and Supervisor Support on Prenatal Stress and Postpartum Health: A Time-Lagged Investigation. J Bus Psychol (2021)