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Case Study: Pregnancy Planning during the Pandemic

The Client
A small company specialising in new technology development. Its technology analyst announced to her employer during 2020 that she was expecting her first child. She was quite concerned about her pregnancy and wanted to be extra cautious during the pandemic.

The Challenge
The employee undertook a unique role in the R&D function of the company and her role would not be easy to cover with existing staff. Her managers also knew that she was concerned about the potential for Covid-19 infection and her worries about how that might impact on her child. They were also aware that she wanted to take a significant part of the 52 weeks off.

The Solution
The company spoke to Helen Astill at Cherington HR. Helen briefed the managers on the process for managing the pregnancy and the maternity leave and provided the relevant documentation. The employee’s manager met with the employee on a regular basis. He carried out a pregnancy risk assessment and kept that updated in discussions with her throughout the pregnancy. He allowed her to work from home as much as possible to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission. They also all got together to discuss with the employee how she would like to plan her maternity leave. The employee decided to have a period of annual leave immediately before her maternity leave started and to have another one after the paid element of the maternity leave came to an end. This way, she planned to take her full 52 weeks off. However, rather than having the 13 weeks of unpaid maternity leave at the end, she replaced some of that with accrued paid annual leave. This is a win-win solution because it means that when she returns, she will not have a year’s worth of additional annual leave to take in addition to the 52 weeks she has been away. She also asked to move into a more operational role when she returned, so this meant that the company could advertise for a replacement for her.

The Results
Finishing her maternity leave early and replacing it with paid annual leave is a win-win solution because it means that she will not have a year’s worth of additional annual leave to take after her return to work. The fact that she has asked to return in a more operational role has meant that the company can advertise for an analyst looking for a long-term post rather than just a fixed-term maternity cover and so they are likely to get better qualified candidates. The company is expanding and so they have identified an acceptable operation role the employee has agreed to take up on her return.

Key words: Pregnancy planning; Maternity leave; Recruitment; Cover; Risk assessment

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