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Friday, 22 January 2021 11:17

Ready for a Lockdown Baby-Boom?

During a radio programme this week on BBC Radio 5, there was a report that maternity units around the UK are seeing a rise in the number of admissions and new births to above the usual average for the time of year. The story went on to suggest that the rise in births were potentially as a result of the first lockdown last March when people found themselves at home with, well… not much to do.

Historically we know that certain months are busier than others in maternity units following nine months on from periods such as Christmas and New Year. There are also reports of spikes in pregnancy and birth-rates as a result of certain events such as World Cup wins and widespread power cuts. Should we then be poised to see an increase in the UK birth rate over coming months as a result of lockdown? And will it follow that business see an increase in applications for Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental leave?

Remember, even in male dominated businesses and industries, Shared Parental Leave means that there is a potential impact for all organisations. Line managers should be aware of anyone who’s partner is expecting, including those same sex relationships.

Managing personnel to take account of staff who take their statutory time off when they become parents is a matter of fact that businesses simply have to deal with. However, it would be wise to be prepared for potential absences, especially as the effects of the Covid crisis will not only increase potential absences but spin a new dynamic on how individuals might take their leave.

One of the effects of lockdown will be that the normal support network that many mothers rely upon to return to work will not be available. Parents, grandparents and siblings may be outside an individual’s immediate bubble, or live a distance away that makes it unjustifiable to travel to under lockdown rules for babysitting duties. Instead, parents will potentially need more time off to care for their new children themselves.

How the holiday entitlement of furloughed staff has been managed may also have an effect. If staff have been allowed to carry over the holiday entitlement they accrued whilst furloughed, they could potentially take an extra full year’s holiday allowance at the end of their maternity leave. Thus extending the time they are absent from work and their position requires cover for.

Remember also that currently, being on maternity affords certain rights and protection against dismissal. That’s not to say that a person on maternity leave cannot be made redundant should a business find itself in the position where redundancies are necessary, but care should be taken to treat staff fairly.

Furthermore, a recent consultation on the extension of maternity protection has concluded and states:

Government is determined to take action to address pregnancy and maternity discrimination. Following the consultation, we now commit to:

  • ensure the redundancy protection period applies from the point the employee informs the employer that she is pregnant, whether orally or in writing;
  • extend the redundancy protection period for six months once a new mother has returned to work. We expect that this period will start immediately once maternity leave is finished

This commitment also extends to shared parental and adoption leave, and whilst there is yet not timescale for its implementation into UK Law, we should be prepared for implementation in the foreseeable future.

If you think you might be affected by staff taking parental leave, now might be a good time to check that your family friendly policies are in good order and to make sure you are conversant with the workers’ rights. We can help with all of this of course and we’re just a phone call away on 01452 331331 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 170 times Last modified on Friday, 22 January 2021 11:52

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