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How to arrange cover for an employee's maternity leave

Author: Sue West


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  • Start planning how to arrange cover as soon as you know that the employee is pregnant.
  • Establish if cover can be sourced internally through redistributing the work among existing team members, or suspending the work until the end of the maternity leave period.
  • If the work cannot be redistributed, consider if there is a suitable employee who can "act up" into the role or a suitable employee who can be seconded from a different part of the organisation.
  • If there is, document the "acting up" or secondment arrangement, including flexibility as to the end date.
  • If hiring external staff to cover, decide whether to recruit directly or via an agency.
  • If hiring a fixed-term employee, comply with the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, and build in flexibility as to the end date of the contract.
  • Consider the degree of training required to enable the covering employee to undertake the role.
  • Plan an appropriate handover at both ends of the maternity leave.
  • Anticipate possible changes to working arrangements at the end of the pregnant employee's maternity leave.
  • Be aware of the employee's right to return to their old job after maternity leave.