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Drafting a Maternity Policy - Final Considerations

In parts one and two of our three part series on 'Guidance for Drafting a Maternity Policy', we talked about an Employers statutory obligations and covered in detail the various complexities of maternity pay.

In this the third and final post we talk about Health & Safety, Recruitment & Redundancy, Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation and using your new policy.

Health and Safety

All employers are required to ensure that working conditions and the type of work undertaken by a pregnant employee, a woman who has given birth within the previous six months and/or who is breastfeeding, will not put her or her baby’s health at risk.

Employers are required to carry out a specific ‘risk assessment’, do all that is reasonable to remove any identified risk and provide the employee with information about the risk and how they could be prevented.  Where it is not possible to avoid the risk then the employee must be moved to other work or suspended on full pay for as long as is necessary.

Recruitment

Should a woman who is pregnant be interviewed for a vacancy it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against her for any reason connected with her pregnancy.   For the purposes of assessing her suitability for a post she should be assessed against other candidates on the basis of her skills and experience only.

Redundancy

An employee who is pregnant should be treated in the same way as any other employee should her post become redundant.  However once an employee has started maternity leave she must be given priority over others by offering her alternative work with the organisation before anyone else. If there is no suitable alternative the organisation can make the employee redundant.  It is extremely important to consult with the employee about likely changes as failure to do so could lead to an unfair dismissal and possible sex discrimination claim.

Implementation

Once you have considered all of the above and have a document you are happy with, send the document to all staff, staff representatives or recognised trade union representatives asking for their comments by a specific date.  This is called the consultation process and you should give staff a reasonable amount of time to read the policy and return their comments.  Having an end date for this is essential so that implementation of the policy can take place.  Take any comments into account when making changes and issue to staff as the final policy, outlining how the consultation process impacted on the final document.

If you have a recognised trade union agreement there may be a process of negotiation to go through before a final policy is agreed upon.

Monitoring & Evaluation

Set a date to evaluate the effectiveness of the policy, perhaps annually, and nominate a person to take responsibility for this.  Changes to the policy may also be required by changes in legislation and new case law.

Using Your New Policy

Once you have implemented your policy it should be used in all instances of maternity leave and the procedure that you have decided upon should be followed to the letter.  This way everyone will be treated the same in line with current legislation.

 

We hope you've found our three part series on Guidance for Drafting a Maternity Policy' helpful!  Like most areas of employment law, maternity is very complex and can, when misunderstood and/or poorly adhered to, can leave Employers exposed to a variety of employment tribunal claims ranging from unlawful deduction of wages to unfair dismissal, and from discrimination to construction dismissal.

If you think your maternity policy could do with a review why not give us a call.  We'll happily undertake a full review of your exisiting HR policies and contracts of employment - for FREE!

Call us today on 0800 612 4772 or simply complete our 'Get a Quote' form now.




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