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Maternity return: 5 things employers should do

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

For any mother, returning to work after having a baby is a massive transition. And like any change, if you’re positive and prepared – you’re more likely to achieve an outcome that will benefit everyone.

So, here are some things employers can (and should!) do to ensure a smooth and happy return to work for Mums.


Ask the maternity returner what they want. It’s the only place to start a conversation. For the mother, the transition begins the moment they become pregnant. And if you have a good relationship, talking informally about flexible working options, phased starts and handovers can begin as soon as they are comfortable to do so. This is going to establish a mutual trust and respect which will stand you both in good stead when it comes to more formal discussions about a back to work plan. Two-way communication is key.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Know their rights

Because they may not. You should be able to help returning mothers with any questions or concerns they may have. Make sure you are familiar with the latest maternity rights, pay and health and safety. You should also be familiar with your own company policies. ACAS is a great resource is you need any guidance.

Consider any requests

Have an open mind and give real thought to any requests put to you. Don’t dismiss suggestions without thoroughly considering the logistics first. What may seem like an unusual or unconventional scenario may be something that future maternity returners could also benefit from. As an employer you should be welcoming and supporting Mums back to work, and any requests should be met with respect. Assumption of possibility should always be your starting point.

Offer a trial period

While it’s great for both parties to have a plan, having some flexibility in place just in case things don’t work out is often sensible. It can take a few months for a maternity returner to get back up to speed and it’s not unusual to have some hiccups along the way. Having a trial period in place can help you both identify any challenges and offers an opportunity to review the current arrangements. Having an open and regular dialogue during the trial period will help resolve any small issues as they arise.

Get them a coach!

Employing the services of a coach not only ensures that you retain your talented employee – and don’t lose them to a more forward-thinking, caring employer. But also helps establish good communication, smooth implementation and a motivated and engaged employee. A good coach will be onboard at every stage of the return process – from setting objectives to assessing any needs at the end of a trial period.

As well as working directly with Mums who reach out to me when returning to work, I also provide a corporate service to forward-thinking and caring employers. My background in HR and recruitment means that I have unique talent in helping both parties achieve a successful return to work.

If you’re an employer who wants to support a maternity returner, you can email me here or call me on 07793 122 191 to find out more about the bespoke corporate services I provide.

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