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What happened next? Pregnant maternity cover. By Sarah Fletcher


Having waved a pregnant employee on her way to dirty nappies and sleepless nights, maternity cover is brought in. The only problem is, the baby bug has got her too. Faced with “horrified” directors, what happened next? By Sarah Fletcher

Employee covering maternity leave is pregnant
We have someone covering for an employee on maternity leave, they have only been here since January and today announced that they too are expecting!

What happens now? I understand that we would need to allow ordinary maternity leave with pay. If the original person on leave has not come back, we will need to get someone else to cover the person who is covering on maternity leave!

Has anyone got any advice to offer on this topic?

Linda Hunt
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What happened next?
The current situation is that this person has notified us she is expecting and has given a delivery date, but we still await her MatB1 (maternity certificate) to confirm.

She would be entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave but we think she has missed the qualifying date for statutory maternity pay by one week!

There would be entitlement to Maternity Allowance via the DSS. This person will be permitted to take time off for ante natal appointments and we will be carrying out health and safety pregnancy risk assessments, but the risk is low level for office based staff.

It is possible this person may stay on a little longer than planned as the lady she is covering has not yet given notice of her return date and we have had to assume that she is going to take the whole of her additional maternity leave. This means we will be looking for someone to cover the role again in the interim period.

The temporary person has indicated that she does not wish to return and was only ever going to complete the temporary contract, so we seem not to have too many issues to deal with regarding return to work obligations.

How did management and colleagues react?
All her colleagues think it highly amusing and the ‘make sure you don’t sit on that chair’ remark has been bandied about endlessly. The lady that she is covering has been in to visit and is bringing her outgrown baby clothes for her to use!

The line manager and Directors where horrified when they learned that, despite the fact that this person is on a temporary contract, there were legal obligations that the company had to make; but they are going along with it.

What would you have done differently with hindsight?
I’m not sure as she was the right person for the job and we would have been more than happy for her to continue in the role should the person she was covering for decided not to return, or considered a job share with her perhaps.

I think it could have worked out quite well – if the first person was willing or able to return after her ordinary leave, they could have arranged a job share when they were both ready. However, that would still mean we would have a full time role and only a part time solution for a while.

I guess a good solution would be to recruit via an agency but you lose continuity if you have various people covering the role, apart from the issues around training people only for them to leave you a short time later.

Any other learning points?
I suppose another alternative is to seek out ‘wrinklies’ who are unlikely, (although not guaranteed) to want to take maternity or paternity leave, which was suggested on HR Zone by some members; although that would be discriminatory and outlawed and of course we would not consider this a viable option.

All in all we are not in control of the situation, which is not good, but we grin and bear it and do the best we can to make sure the job gets done by someone!

How to deal with this grievance – advice offered by members:

Other articles in the What Happened Next series

Related Any Answers posts:

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