Maternity leave is one of the better employment benefits that British workers are in receipt of, but, for small businesses, it can create challenges. As outlined by business analysts in The Guardian, maternity leave can cause problems down the line that go beyond basic loss of earnings for a business. However, managing maternity leave is not a negotiable act for businesses – neither legally nor ethically. There are steps that can be taken to minimise impact and perhaps even to enhance your business.
Planning long term
A commonly made mistake in relation to maternity is making the assumption that the 12 month maternity period is the end of any change with your member of staff. According to market research analysed by The Telegraph, maternity leave often has impacts over the course of that employee’s career. Adapting to this is a case of starting early. Build a rapport with your staff, and seek to understand their needs, such as understanding if there are any medical concerns or other challenges facing your employee. Whether this is gestational diabetes during their pregnancy or postpartum infections after delivery, encouraging an open dialogue with your employees will put your business in the best position to adapt. Having open dialogue and being able to anticipate changes early on will be important in both supporting your member of staff and ensuring continuity in your workplace.
Smaller businesses often struggle more with maternity leave because low employee headcount tends to create multi-skilled and unique roles that cover several areas of the business. As a result, it can be hard to quantify every aspect of an employee’s role and how that can be covered. To address this, keep a meticulous plan of your workplace, employees and the roles they cover. Make sure every single aspect of their role is there to be seen so you can recruit effectively.
There is always a risk that your employee will return from maternity with competition for places. It may be that your new member of staff is quite simply a better employee; however, legally and ethically, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to make a returning employee redundant, given protections under the DDA. One way of addressing this imbalance is through growth. Growth is arguably the most important thing for modern businesses, and, according to government advice, is particularly crucial at the moment. Plan around maternity as an opportunity – for you to find new recruitment, and to develop your business further.
Maternity leave is a consideration that every business must give in their planning and strategy. It can create problems, but it can be an opportunity, too. Develop a rapport with your staff and plan thoroughly – that way, maternity won’t be an unexpected surprise.
If the topic of maternity cover is currently affecting your business, why not contact us to hear about the number of currently available temporary workers that can help fill your business needs. Contact us on 028 90235 456