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Case Study: Steady as she goes!

The Client
A small company specialising in co-ordinating marine tanker inspections around the world. Their business manager had informed the owner that she was pregnant with her second child and would be needing to take maternity leave.

The Challenge
Although the work of the company’s inspectors is spread all over the world, it is co-ordinated by a very small team based in a village in Worcestershire. The office team is made up entirely of part-time employees and was managed by the full-time business manager, who had indicated that she was thinking about asking to work part-time when she returned. The owner asked Helen Astill of Cherington HR for help in making sure the maternity leave was arranged appropriately and that seamless cover was put in place. This was crucial because the job involved all the finance aspects of the business including payroll.

The Solution
Helen met with the owner and the employee to discuss her intentions. The employee said that she wanted to take her full 12 months of maternity leave and that she would like to work part-time on her return. Helen made sure that the company understood its obligations with regards to the maternity leave and how to deal with the flexible working request in preparation for her return. In addition, she helped the company review how the job might look on her return and then drew up a job specification for a maternity cover role to be advertised. She liaised with a local recruitment agency and helped shortlist proposed candidates and sat on the interview panel to help select a good candidate. She also used psychometric testing to assess the best personality fits with the rest of the team.

The Results
The successful candidate accepted the role for the 12 months that the business manager was off. She was able to start 3 weeks before the manager started her maternity leave to facilitate handover training. When the business manager returned part-time the employee who had been taken on as her maternity cover remained with the company keeping some of the work she had been doing previously (because of the part-time nature of the returning business manager) as well as taking up some new development projects the company had wanted to pursue. It was a “win-win” because in taking on the new employee and training her up, they now had a greater resource available than had been the case previously. The business manager used some of her Keeping in Touch (KIT) days during the year to come in for business update training to ensure that she was aware of the changes that had been put in place in her absence.

Key words: Maternity leave; flexible working; recruitment; cover; psychometric testing; training

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