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Amanda Boyd: Help for small businesses to navigate complexities of pregnancy law

Thursday 30 November 2017

Amanda Boyd of the Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) Legal Services provider, LHS, blogs about the new Acas guidance on employee pregnancy and maternity leave.

Amanda Boyd Amanda Boyd

Amanda is an employment solicitor at LHS Solicitors. She has extensive experience in providing pragmatic and strategic legal advice and solutions to business owners in relation to all employment related matters.  Amanda is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

Employers of all sizes worry about making errors in relation to the rights of employees who are either pregnant or taking maternity leave. FSB research shows 29 per cent of small firms find maternity and paternity leave among the most time-consuming and difficult areas of legislation to comply with.

This is also borne out by data collected by Acas: it received over "14,000 calls last year about pregnancy and maternity issues, an increase of almost 10% on the previous year". It's not surprising that employers can become confused. The laws protecting women who are expectant or taking maternity leave are quite complex and detailed.

Ensuring women want to, and do, return to work after maternity leave is good for their employers and the wider economy. Understanding the rules and legal rights of employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave, alongside sharing best practice, is essential to achieving this. Now Acas has produced new helpful guidance that can help employers of any size best navigate employee pregnancy, maternity leave and their return to work following pregnancy. The guidance is a must read for any employer or HR professional. 

The guidance walks employers through a range of everyday workplace scenarios in which discriminatory issues can arise and can be used as a useful source of information for employers on how to avoid things going wrong. Throughout the guidance employers are provided with helpful, practical tips and training interventions that can be introduced to their workplace. Adopting these suggestions is likely to equip managers and supervisors with the information they need to understand how to make non-discriminatory decisions in relation to new and expectant mothers and those on maternity leave.

So, if an employee is pregnant, on maternity leave, or returning to work following pregnancy, this guidance is a good starting point for employers to make better management decisions. It provides a greater understanding of how to deal with pregnancy and maternity related issues. 

FSB offers its members access to employment and general legal advice as part of its membership.

At the same time, FSB campaigns to ensure the voice of small business is heard by policymakers and governments at all levels on this issue and many others.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Acas share the same objectives of protecting the rights of pregnant women and those on maternity leave, and of helping employers navigate all elements of the legislative landscape so that their business can flourish.

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