Line Manager’s Top 5 Questions about Managing Maternity

We’ve been running 2-hour ‘Managing Maternity’ workshops for several clients for the last 3 years, and every time I run a workshop I feel more passionate about the importance of them!

In addition, every time I hold a maternity coaching workshop, there isn’t a single woman in the room who isn’t hugely impacted by her relationship with her line manager.  Even if the overall company culture is supportive of working parents and flexibility; the attitude of her direct line manager will inevitably make or break her return to work.

In November last year, The Telegraph reported:  ‘More than one in five women (21 per cent) said they were treated very differently by their employer after telling them about a pregnancy. While one in ten (11 per cent) added that their boss no longer valued their opinion (rising to 15 per cent for those in full-time employment)’.  These statistics show just how important the role of the manager is to someone going through maternity leave and return to work.

What are the Top 5 Questions about Managing Maternity?

I thought it would be useful to summarise the top 5 questions from line managers who attend our workshops:

  1. Should I ask when she is planning on returning to work?
  2. Is the handover plan as she goes onto maternity leave my responsibility?
  3. Should I contact her during maternity leave, and if so, how?
  4. What shall I say and do if she wants to work part-time?
  5. What should I do if I notice that her productivity changes or if she keeps coming in late every day?

Clearly, we spend a lot of time discussing issues such as these in the workshop.  However, for the sake of ‘blogging brevity’ I will attempt to give my responses to each in 1 sentence: 

  1. Not during the pregnancy – wait till you meet with her during the later stages of her maternity leave as she probably won’t know herself until after she has had the baby.  Focus on the due date for now for planning cover.
  2. Plan and review it together but let her prepare a summary of everything she does and her progress to date.
  3. Agree how she would like to keep in contact before she leaves for maternity leave so you don’t have to guess**
  4. Read your company’s flexible working policy and make sure you adhere to it; speak to HR for any further clarification.
  5. Talk to her and find out if everything is OK and if you can do anything to support her; talk to HR if you need further help.

**If your business undergoes any structural change, it is important that you communicate with those on maternity leave in the same way as you do with the rest of the team, preferably with a meeting to explain the changes**

Would you like to offer consistent and regular support for your line managers who are managing maternity and parents?  If so, we have an e-learning module for Line Managers and a small-group workshop.  Contact us for more information:

Share this story

Sign up for industry updates