Most likely, your company has a maternity leave policy of some sort, whether the leave is paid or unpaid. If the business employs more than 10 people, it’s obligated under the Family Medical Leave Act to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, though your company may have its own more generous policy.
In either case, it’s important to talk with pregnant employees about their maternity leave before they take the time off. Consider discussing these issues:
- Will she take time off before the baby is born, or wait until the child’s birth? If she plans to leave ahead of time, make sure that she has wrapped up all of her work by that date, and that a replacement is ready to fill in if necessary. If she’s not planning on leaving until the baby’s birth, ask her supervisor to ensure that all critical work has been completed by several weeks before the due date and a fill-in is available at short notice.
- Will she plan on taking more time off than your company’s maternity leave guidelines offer? If she already knows that she’d like to spend more time at home, you may be able to combine the company’s maternity leave with its disability leave policy to provide her with more partially-paid time off.
- Does she plan to return to work at all? Many women aren’t certain if they’ll return to work until after a baby’s birth—but if your employee already knows that she won’t return or that she will stay at home for an extended time period, you may need to begin recruiting for a permanent candidate to take her place. Begin the process as early as possible; your employee may be able to provide help in choosing the right candidate and training him or her.
No matter what your company policy on maternity leave, you should talk with your employee about what they need and what the company needs before their time off begins.