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Supporting employees through pregnancy, maternity leave and the return to work

Author: Liz Morris

Contributing author: Vicki Robinson


  • Employers that follow good practice in maternity can improve the experience of pregnant employees and new mothers and encourage them to return to work following maternity leave. (See The business case for good practice in maternity)
  • A maternity policy can promote a consistent approach to maternity across the organisation and increase awareness about the support available for pregnant employees. (See The maternity policy)
  • Employers that follow good practice towards all parents increase the likelihood of achieving a gender-diverse workforce. (See Equality for all parents)
  • A good relationship between a pregnant employee and their line manager is essential to the successful reintegration of the employee following maternity leave. Training line managers helps them to adopt appropriate management techniques. (See Training for line managers)
  • Employers can support employees by offering them benefits beyond the statutory minimum, for example training mechanisms to help them cope with balancing work and family commitments. (See Enhanced benefits and support for employees and Training for employees)
  • Employers that take a flexible approach to health and safety have a better chance of maintaining the pregnant employee's productivity. (See Health and safety)
  • The employer should take a number of steps following the announcement of the employee's pregnancy, so that it is prepared for their maternity leave and the employee feels supported. (See Process overview and Actions following notification of pregnancy)
  • A job analysis will help the employer to identify the most appropriate option for covering the employee's workload while they are on maternity leave, so that the business keeps functioning as it should. The employee should be involved in this process. (See Maternity cover)
  • The employer and employee should put together a handover plan to ensure that the employee's work will be covered with the minimum of interruption to the business while they are on maternity leave. (See The handover plan)
  • Employers that plan how to notify stakeholders about the employee's maternity leave can foster confidence in the arrangements for cover. (See Stakeholder communication)
  • The employer should conduct a performance review with the employee prior to their maternity leave to boost their confidence and encourage them to consider how parenthood and work will fit together. (See Performance review and career planning)
  • The employer can benefit from keeping in touch with the employee during their maternity leave. (See Keeping in touch during maternity leave)
  • A return-to-work plan could help the employee to reintegrate following maternity leave, because it will allow them to establish a new routine and get up to speed with changes that occurred during their maternity leave. (See The return-to-work plan and Support following maternity leave)
  • The employer can benefit from supporting breastfeeding mothers. (See Breastfeeding)
  • Providing childcare assistance can minimise interruption caused by a breakdown in childcare arrangements. (See Childcare support)
  • Employers should provide practical and emotional assistance for parents if unexpected events occur during or following pregnancy. (See Unexpected circumstances)