How to arrange maternity cover for employees

By Robert Half 16th October 2019

There are a multitude of considerations to make when planning how to cover maternity leave. You need to ensure the rights of both permanent and temporary employees are taken care of and that you find, hire and onboard talent that is proficient enough to quickly get up to speed when covering for someone on maternity leave.

Here are some of the main points to consider when starting your maternity leave coverage plan.

Hiring talent when covering for someone on maternity leave

Set a plan in place
The moment you receive a maternity leave notice is the moment to start planning! Your employee should be making a maternity leave plan  and handover, so work alongside them to set and agree timelines. 

The employee you’re arranging maternity cover for must inform you of the due date 15 weeks before birth and should also confirm when they hope to start their maternity leave. Getting a head start is particularly useful if your employee ends up going on maternity leave early. 

Familiarise yourself with employee rights
Before you begin the process of arranging maternity cover for your employee, it’s beneficial to familiarise yourself with the law surrounding the rights of your permanent and contract employees.

Your permanent employee has the right to return to the same job or a job of equal importance and pay. They can also accrue paid holiday, gain promotions and get pay rises, all while away on leave.

The temporary employee who is covering for someone on maternity leave has the right to equal treatment, the same pay/benefits as a permanent employee and protection against redundancy or dismissal.

Streamline your recruitment process
Your employee will have a handover deadline in mind when creating a maternity handover plan and a quick recruitment process can help support this. It can also help prevent project delays if an early labour means going on maternity leave early. 

Read more about streamlining your hiring

Work with your employee to determine which tasks the covering maternity leave professional will need to handle, and which can be distributed among colleagues. This will give you a clear idea as to the experience, skills and proficiencies your ideal maternity cover professional should have.

A temporary recruitment firm will help you shorten the hiring process further by drawing on their vast pool of talent to quickly supply a selection of qualified professionals capable of hitting the ground running when covering for someone on maternity leave.

Be clear in your offer
In order to attract the best talent for covering maternity leave, you’ll need to ensure what you’re offering to temporary staff is fair, attractive and straightforward. Be clear on the length of the contract and the terms of employment. You should offer your contract maternity cover the same benefits your permanent employees receive. 

Offering a quick or immediate start is considered best practice when hiring temporary or contract staff. You should also aim to work in a clause which covers your employee going on maternity leave early or opting to choose not to return to work.

Ensure there’s plenty of time for training and handover
Your new contract professional will need clear instruction on how to cover maternity leave for this specific role and will need adequate time for onboarding and training. There should be time for a full handover briefing, a day’s shadowing and time to sit in on one-to-one handover meetings with other members of staff. 

While they’re covering maternity leave, your contract professional should make note of key points of interest or developments, in case your employee returns periodically for keeping in touch days. These points of interest should also be logged for the return handover. 

Give a warm welcome
Covering for someone on maternity leave can be intimidating, so why not invite your temporary maternity cover professional out for a team lunch to make them feel welcome? By allowing them to mix and socialise with the colleagues they’ll be helping to support, you could help make covering maternity leave feel much smoother for them.

Do you need help with covering for someone on maternity leave?
Now that you have what you need to create a comprehensive maternity leave coverage plan, do you need to hire top talent capable of covering for someone on maternity leave? Upload your vacancy or get in touch with the team today.

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