Pregnant women have a whole range of entitlements and are very well protected by employment law. This is a confusing area for employers. How do you cope with someone taking 52 weeks' maternity leave? How much maternity pay should they get? Are you allowed to keep in touch during maternity leave? What if they want to come back to work part-time or if they don't want to come back to work at all?
As soon as an employee tells you they are pregnant you should start to prepare. Make sure they take their holiday entitlement before they go on maternity leave and that you have given them a letter setting out their scheduled return date and other information. Agree how you will keep in contact and how regularly.
You also need to make sure you carry out regular risk assessment to ensure that their pregnancy is taken into account in determining whether they can carry on doing their regular job, or whether you need to consider making any adjustments.
Recruiting a replacement for someone on maternity leave can be problematic, as you do not really know how temporary the position will be until the end of the maternity leave period. You need to be careful in how the contract of employment is worded in order to avoid unfair dismissal claims when the temporary cover comes to an end. For help and advice on all these matters please contact us.