Arranging maternity cover for employees

There are a multitude of considerations involved in planning how to cover maternity leave. You need to ensure that the rights of both permanent and temporary employees are taken care of and that you find, hire and induct talent who are proficient enough to get up to speed quickly when covering for someone on maternity leave

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Robert Half 

Here are some of the main points to consider when constructing a maternity leave coverage plan.

Set a plan in place

The moment you receive a maternity leave notice is the moment to start planning! Your employee should be making a maternity leave plan and handover, so work alongside them to set and agree timelines.

The employee you’re arranging maternity cover for must inform you of the due date 15 weeks before birth and should also confirm when they hope to start their maternity leave – getting a head start will be particularly useful if your employee ends up going on maternity leave early.

Familiarise yourself with employee rights

Before you begin the process of arranging maternity cover for your employee, it’s beneficial to familiarise yourself with the law surrounding the rights of your permanent and contract employees.

Your permanent employee has the right to return to the same job, or a job of equal importance, and pay; they can also accrue paid holiday, gain promotions and get pay rises, all while away on mat leave.

A temporary employee who is covering for someone on maternity leave has the right to equal treatment, the same pay/benefits as a permanent employee and protection against redundancy or dismissal.

Streamline your recruitment process

Your employee will have a handover deadline in mind when creating a maternity handover plan and a quick recruitment process can help support this; it can also help prevent task delays if an early labour means going on maternity leave early.

Work with your employee to determine which tasks the person covering maternity leave will need to handle, and which can be distributed among colleagues. This will give you a clear idea as to the experience, skills and proficiencies your ideal maternity cover person should have.

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A temporary recruitment firm will help you shorten the appointment process further by drawing on their vast pool of talent to quickly supply a selection of qualified people capable of ‘hitting the ground running’ when covering for someone on maternity leave.

Be clear in your offer

In order to attract the best talent to cover maternity leave, you’ll need to ensure that what you’re offering to temporary staff is fair, attractive and straightforward. Be clear on the length of the contract and the terms of employment.

Offering a quick, or immediate, start is considered best practice when appointing temporary or contract staff. You should also aim to include a clause which covers the possibility of your employee going on maternity leave early, or deciding not to return to work at all.

Ensure there’s plenty of time for training and handover

Your maternity cover person will need clear instruction on how to cover maternity leave for this specific role and will need adequate time for onboarding and training. There should be time for a full handover briefing, a day’s shadowing and time to sit in on one-to-one handover meetings with other members of staff.

While they’re covering maternity leave, your contract professional should make note of key points of interest, or developments in the job role, in case your employee returns periodically for keeping in touch days. These points of interest should also be logged for the eventual return handover.

Give a warm welcome

Covering for someone on maternity leave can be intimidating, so why not invite your temporary maternity cover person out for a team lunch to make them feel welcome? By allowing them to mix and socialise with the colleagues they’ll be helping to support you will be helping to make covering maternity leave feel much smoother for them.

Making sure you think about both the person leaving for maternity leave, and the person coming in to cover, is the key to making the process as smooth as possible. Taking these tips into account should ensure that everyone is as happy and comfortable in the process as possible!

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