How can employers best support pregnant employees?

How can employers best support pregnant employees?
When an employee announces their pregnancy to their employer, there are mixed feelings. Of course, from a personal point of view, you’re really happy that they’re starting, or expanding, their family life, but on the other hand, you need to find maternity cover, deal with a lot of paperwork and it could cost the business a fair amount to hire someone new or train someone in-house.

However, as an employer or HR professional, you’ll want to make sure that your employee is happy and comfortable during the time leading up to their maternity leave.

Here are three things that a company should do to offer extra support:

Flexible working hours

A new survey has discovered that 48% of expectant mothers have to battle through a working day due to tiredness, which of course would mean that the employee may not be as productive as normal.

Flexible working hours will give employees the chance to spend longer in bed in the morning, trying to catch-up with some missed shut eye and battling morning sickness. However, it’s also a benefit for the employer too, as employees will be far more productive once they catch up on some sleep and spend longer working in the evenings.

Working from home

Expectant mothers may find it more comfortable working from home, than going into the office. Depending on the place of work, there may be less health and safety issues in their own home, as well as being able to be comfortable throughout the day.

A lot of sickness can come with being pregnant, so an employee may find it more comfort being in their own home, knowing where the toilets are, the cleaning products are, and that they can wear comfier clothes for their stomach.

On the upside, thanks to the pandemic, a lot more companies may offer options to remote work for their employees. Jade Thomas, Office Manager at Pure Property Finance, says that her team had never worked from home before, and had no intentions to, but thanks to the past year they’ve realised how much easier it can be than they originally thought.

“We’ve never really considered remote working as an option prior to this, but this whole experience has taught us that our roles can in fact be done at home, and perhaps remote working is something we will do more of in the future.

“I think a lot of companies have learned that employees can work just as efficiently at home, providing they have the right set-ups and the right software. I know remote working is something that is discussed amongst businesses a lot and, for some, it can be a bit of a grey area as company owners are totally against the idea.

“Hopefully, this pandemic has proven that companies can adapt anywhere, rather than just to the office!”

Additional support

Make employees aware of their employee rights while pregnant, and send them links to their rights, the maternity policy and what sorts of support the company offers.

It’s all good and well putting them in a public place for employees to dig out themselves, but by sending the documents to them straight away, it will show that you’re keen to help and offer support throughout the entire process.

It’s also important for you to understand the current employer laws around maternity and paternity, to ensure that your company doesn’t get into any legal trouble around this topic and so that you’re able to offer the best solutions to the employee while they’re pregnant.

Scott Jones, Managing Director at Illustrate Digital, says:

“We keep all files in one central location and send around frequent emails to employees to remind them how to access them. This includes documents such as company policies, maternity and paternity information and company benefits. Some employees may be scared to ask about these sorts of things, especially new members of staff, so it’s important to make these documents easy accessible. All employees also have their own private folder which consists of their own contracts, payslips etc too.”

For help and advice on dealing with an expectant mother, or father, and their rights in the workplace, the best option would be to speak to an employment expert.

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