Women’s football is in the news again with Reading captain Emma Mukandi criticising the club for failing to support her as a new mother, and criticising maternity leave conditions available to Women’s Super League players.
Mukandi says no maternity conditions existed and that she “faked an injury” at the beginning of her pregnancy in the run up to her 10 week scan. She says she felt “left to the side” during her pregnancy and after the birth, having to breast pump in a cupboard and being banned from having her child on-site.
Mukandi’s pregnancy and maternity leave happened before the minimum standard maternity policy was mandated as part of club licences for the top two women’s divisions by the FA at the start of the 2022-2023 season. This new policy stipulates that a player will be paid 100% of their weekly wage, as well as other remuneration and benefits, for fourteen weeks before reverting to the statutory rate. However Mukandi raises concerns that there is still not enough in place for women, questioning issues of health and safety and childcare.
So what does this mean for employers practically? Navigating the legislative provisions around pregnancy and maternity can be daunting. Here are some simple steps employers can take to avoid the pitfalls, create an inclusive workplace and harness the potential of all your staff as well as avoiding negative PR and potential claims.
- Clear Policies
Have clear policies regarding pregnancy, maternity, adoption, parental and shared parental leave. Consider introducing a Fertility Policy to support those who are experiencing challenges without risking the sensitivity of covering this in a maternity policy.
Make sure these policies are easily accessible to all staff and in clear and understandable language. We have free templates available for you to download here. If you need support in implementing or creating new policies, check out the guidance videos from our Head of HR, Diversity & Inclusion too.
- Carry Out Individual Risk Assessments
By law, in addition to assessing risks for women of childbearing age as part of the general workplace risk assessment, employers must carry out individual risk assessments covering a worker’s specific needs when they have informed them that they are pregnant, breastfeeding of have given birth in the last 6 months.
Talk to the individual and discuss any concerns they may have about how their work could affect their pregnancy and take account of any medical recommendations provided.
- Keep in touch
Speak to the member of staff and keep lines of communication open during their maternity leave and after their return. The legislation allows for Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. Employers and Employees can agree that the Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity and adoption leave, up to 20 days during Shared Parental Leave (Shared Parental Leave in touch or SPLIT days).
- Give your Managers Confidence through Training
Provide training to allow managers to be confident in managing pregnancy and maternity in their teams. Give them the tools they need to have the tricky conversations (our dignity and respect training and this collection of videos from our sister organisation, 10to3 Digital can help) required both to fulfil the legal requirements as well as to make for an inclusive and engaged workforce.
Vista provide market leading management training in this space, alongside HR support for employers on all aspects of diversity, inclusion and employment law. If you would like to enquire about how our team can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.