How to Prepare for an Employee Going on Maternity Leave
Companies with over 50 employees are required, under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), to offer maternity leave for up to 12 weeks. Over that period, the person’s job is protected, and after the parental leave time has expired, the person has the right to return to the original job, without penalty in pay or position.
When an employee is planning to go on maternity leave you want the process to be smooth, positive, and uneventful – not a confusing scramble to cover their duties. It is all about planning ahead. The process of shifting the duties to other personnel should start when you find out an employee is expecting a baby, whether giving birth or through adoption. Congratulate the person on the upcoming addition to the family! Once the pregnancy or adoption is confirmed, these steps can help smooth the way to a less stressful, more productive time when a valued employee is on maternity leave.
A Step-by-Step Plan for Maternity Leave
Set up a meeting with HR: A meeting with HR can help your employee fully understand your company’s maternity leave policies, quell any fears they may have about losing their job, and understand the benefits you offer based on your company policy for maternity leave.
Have the expectant mother create a document outlining all duties and responsibilities: The processes used for daily tasks should be listed in detail. A list of all contacts within the company and outside, with a brief description should be created, along with what that contact does regarding work duties, sales, or any other activity. This document provides vital information for those who are covering job duties, whether an existing employee or a temporary hire.
Create a transition plan: You may need to allow shorter hours for your employee as maternity leave approaches, and when the new parent returns to work. The more care and attention you show your employee, the better.
Select the best replacement(s) for your employee: You may choose to hire a temporary worker or call on existing personnel who are more familiar with your business. You may choose to redistribute the workload to several employees with support from a temporary employee for basic tasks.
Communicate to your team: After the details of the maternity leave have been worked out, update your team on what to expect. Outline the details about how work will be distributed to other team members, and any training needed – which should take place as early as possible so the expecting parent is involved and can help.
Celebrate with a sendoff: When the last day of employment arrives, make sure you acknowledge your employee, with flowers, a gift, or a get-together with treats.
A return to work plan established: Your employee will appreciate the back-to-work plan you create when maternity leave is over. This may include updated training, information about any new processes, new products, or any information that may be needed to get back up to speed.
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