HR Advice When Employee Is On Maternity Leave

Managing maternity leave can be a challenging process for employers. Businesses need the right HR advice and strategies in place to turn it into a time of opportunity for both the employee and the organisation. UK employment laws offer specific provisions and entitlements to employees on maternity leave, ensuring their rights are protected.

Compliance with the laws is crucial. Businesses are legally obligated to maintain a fair and inclusive workplace. Additionally, providing the necessary support to your team during this period can foster loyalty and morale among employees. Learn about some key aspects of managing maternity leave effectively.

Understanding Maternity Leave Rights and Entitlements

A comprehensive understanding of maternity leave rights and entitlements will ensure compliance with UK employment laws. By providing the necessary support and benefits, employers can create a supportive and inclusive environment for their employees during this significant phase in their lives.

Maternity Pay

A key aspect of maternity leave is maternity pay. Employees can be entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks, SMP is given at 90% of the average weekly earnings before it’s followed by a flat rate for the remaining weeks.

Length of Leave

Pregnant employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. This is divided into two components – 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. Employees may choose how much of their leave to take. They must take at least 2 weeks immediately after the birth of their child. Maternity leave can begin earlier if the employee is absent due to a pregnancy-related illness.

Statutory Maternity Leave

Statutory maternity leave is a legal entitlement for eligible employees. It provides job security and certain rights during the leave period. The rights include: accrual of holiday entitlement, protection against unfair treatment, and the right to return to the same job or a suitable alternative on their return from maternity leave.

Below is a table summarising the key rights and entitlements employees have during maternity leave:

Rights and Entitlements Description
Maternity Pay Employees may be eligible to receive statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks.
Length of Leave Employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave.
Statutory Maternity Leave Maternity leave provides job security and certain rights during the leave period.

Managing Employee Absence and Cover

In the midst of an employee’s maternity leave, effective management of employee absence is crucial to ensure the smooth running of your business and maintain productivity. This section will provide you with valuable advice on managing employee absence during maternity leave, including strategies for arranging suitable cover, hiring temporary staff if necessary, and distributing workloads effectively.

When an employee takes maternity leave, it’s important to plan ahead to minimise disruption to your team and operations. One of the key steps is to identify suitable cover for the absent employee’s responsibilities. This can be achieved by:

  • Reassigning tasks to existing team members: Distributing tasks among existing employees can help maintain productivity. Consider each team member’s strengths and workload to ensure a fair distribution.
  • Utilising temporary staff: Hiring temporary staff can be a viable option for covering essential tasks during an employee’s absence. Temporary staff can provide the necessary support and expertise to keep your business running smoothly.
  • Exploring outsourcing options: Outsourcing certain tasks or projects to external agencies or freelancers can provide a cost-effective solution for managing workload distribution during employee absence.

It’s important to communicate with your team and involve them in the process of managing employee absence. This will help ensure a collaborative approach and maintain team morale. Open communication can also help identify any potential challenges and address them proactively.

Benefits of Effective Employee Absence Management

Implementing effective strategies for managing employee absence during maternity leave offers several advantages:

  1. Continuity of operations: By arranging suitable cover and distributing workloads, you can maintain business operations and minimise disruptions.
  2. Employee morale: Ensuring that workload distribution is fair and manageable contributes to employee satisfaction and morale.
  3. Productivity: By assigning responsibility and providing support, you can maintain productivity levels, and even potentially increase efficiency through better workload management.
  4. Retention and engagement: Supporting employees during maternity leave demonstrates your commitment to their well-being, which can contribute to higher retention rates and greater employee engagement.

Remember, effective absence management is not only about maintaining day-to-day operations but also about fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment. By implementing practical strategies, you can successfully manage employee absence during maternity leave, ensuring a smooth transition and supporting the well-being of your team.

From arranging suitable cover and hiring temporary staff to distributing workloads, these practical strategies for managing employee absence during maternity leave contribute to maintaining productivity and fostering a supportive work environment. By following these recommendations, you can successfully navigate employee absence and ensure a seamless transition for your team.

Communication and Support for Employees on Maternity Leave

During a maternity leave, it’s crucial to stay connected and ensure the employee is informed about important updates and changes.

Staying Connected

Staying connected with employees on maternity leave can help them feel valued and included in the company’s activities. Regular check-ins through phone calls, emails, or video conferences can provide them with updates on projects, team news, and any upcoming changes. Implementing a buddy system, where a colleague keeps the absent employee updated on work-related matters, can also foster a sense of belonging and connectedness.

Keeping Informed

Keeping informed about the company’s developments is crucial for employees on maternity leave. Sharing important news, such as policy updates, new initiatives, or achievements, can help them stay connected to the organisation and maintain a sense of involvement. Sending regular newsletters, sharing internal updates through a designated channel, or providing access to an online platform with relevant resources are effective ways to keep employees informed and engaged.

Effective communication and timely updates not only keep employees informed but also demonstrate a commitment to their inclusion and professional growth.

Supporting Employee Well-being

Supporting the well-being of employees on maternity leave is paramount to their overall satisfaction and return to the workplace. Offering access to employee assistance programs, sharing resources for maintaining work-life balance, and providing information about available support networks can all contribute to their mental and emotional well-being during this period.

Employers can also facilitate regular catch-up meetings or virtual coffee breaks to foster connections between employees on maternity leave and their colleagues. Additionally, organising social events or gatherings gives them a chance to reconnect with coworkers, boosting morale and ensuring a smooth transition back into the workplace.

To maintain strong relationships with their employees, employers must prioritise communication, provide ongoing support, and promote employee well-being during maternity leave. This also enhances team cohesion and contributes to a positive work environment.


In conclusion, this article has provided valuable insights into managing maternity leave effectively in accordance with UK employment laws. By understanding the rights and entitlements of employees on maternity leave, employers can ensure compliance and provide the necessary support to their team. Whether it’s arranging cover, managing employee absence, or fostering communication and support, employers play a crucial role in creating a supportive and inclusive environment for employees on maternity leave.

HR help is essential during a maternity leave. One additional approach to navigate the complexities of HR during this transition is to consider hiring an outsourced HR provider. This can offer numerous benefits, including expert guidance on compliance, seamless absence management, and access to resources and HR support tailored to the needs of both employers and employees. They have an employment helpline, which mainly provides employer advice but also serves as an employees helpline, providing employee HR advice online.

By following the HR employment advice provided in this article, employers can ensure a smooth transition for employees on maternity leave, minimise disruptions to the team, and foster a positive work environment.


Can an employee on maternity leave receive statutory maternity pay?

Employees on maternity leave may be entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP). SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks and is calculated based on their average weekly earnings. It’s important for employers to familiarise themselves with the current SMP rates and ensure compliance with the payment process.

Can employers hire temporary staff to cover the workload while an employee is on maternity leave?

Employers may hire temporary staff to cover the workload during an employee’s maternity leave. Hiring temporary staff can help to ensure that operations run smoothly and that workloads are effectively managed in the absence of the employee on leave. Employers should consider establishing a clear plan for delegation and communicate expectations to all employees involved.

How can employers stay connected with employees on maternity leave?

Employers can stay connected with employees on maternity leave by implementing regular communication channels. This can include scheduled catch-up meetings or video conferences to keep the employee informed about any updates or changes in the workplace. It’s also important to check in on the employee’s well-being and provide any necessary support during this time.

What can employers do to support employee well-being during maternity leave?

Employers can support employee well-being during maternity leave by offering resources and support services. This can include providing information on resources such as counselling services, mother-and-baby groups, or flexible return-to-work options. Regularly checking in with the employee and providing a supportive environment can go a long way in promoting their well-being during this time.

How can hiring an outsourced HR provider benefit employers during maternity leave?

Hiring an outsourced HR provider can offer numerous benefits to employers during maternity leave. They can assign an HR expert to provide free HR advice for employers and guidance on complying with employment laws. They have an employers helpline to assist businesses in managing employee absence and maintaining effective communication with employees on leave. Apart from an HR advice line, an outsourced HR provider can also handle administrative tasks, such as benefits, relieving the employer of additional workload and ensuring smooth operations.