Since 65% of people entering the PR, communications and marketing services sectors are women, maternity leave is something that all agencies and in-house departments will need to plan at some stage.
Bridging the gap is vital to continued business success, keeping other employees happy and a smooth return back to work! Things you need to think about:
The law around Maternity Leave?
The law states that ‘an employee must advise her employer that she is pregnant, and of the date she intends to start her maternity leave, by the end of the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth where practicable.’* In reality, employees tend to share their happy news a lot sooner. Many expectant mothers tend to work to within four weeks of their due date, some prefer to leave earlier, whilst others hang on until the last minute. In fact, an employee could decide to commence her maternity leave as early as eleven weeks before her due date.
The law regarding maternity notification requirements, is there in part, to protect the employer, it gives a company a time frame in which to work to find suitable leave. However, as we know, time passes quickly, so once you have been informed, it’s best to start arranging maternity leave immediately – especially if it’s a role that requires a specialist or a particularly senior candidate.
It is especially important to identify the type of maternity leave – if any – you feel is going to be appropriate for the vacant role. There are several options that could be considered, depending on the scale of your business. It might be enough to redistribute the employee’s duties among existing team members, but remember they need to be on board with this, as it will mean an increase in their workloads. Some companies opt to get another colleague to act up or even to suspend the role all together, although this is pretty drastic.
Perhaps one of the most common solutions is to bring in a freelancer on a temporary contract. Here at The Work Crowd, we specialize in interim and freelance candidates, offering highly experienced, specialist staff that are screened and available when you need them. Through our platform, you can shortlist your preferred contractor or freelancer and converse with them, before making them an offer. We take care of all the admin as well, making your life easier at what can be a stressful time.
Furthermore, using a platform such as The Work Crowd can remove the responsibility for a large part of the recruitment process from the company’s shoulders – thus reducing the impact on time and resources. We can work with you to identify long or short-term freelancers that are suitable for maternity leave contracts. One of the great benefits of filling the gap in this way is that you, the employer will not be responsible for internal employment processes in relation to the hire – such as payroll – because we do it all for you, meaning you have greater flexibility and can terminate the arrangement should your employee return from maternity leaver sooner than expected. Equally, you can also extend the term, should she decide to stay away longer.
In order to make everyone’s life easier, it is wise to arrange a period of handover. Obviously, the nature of the handover will depend on the role, seniority and complexity, but it does no harm and makes for a smoother transition if the freelancer can come in and shadow the mother-to-be for a few days before the maternity leave. A handover can also work the other way. You may decide that the covering employee should hand over to the returner at the end of her maternity leave. Making use of “Keeping in touch days” also helps the maternity returner keep engaged with the business while away and helps settling in much easier.
Whichever way you choose to cover maternity leave, do remember that planning is everything. Don’t leave things till the last minute and speak to us here at The Work Crowd to discuss your role and the type of freelance or contractor you require for your interim cover.
*(Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations 1999).