How should I go about providing maternity cover?
You will need to assess your business needs. Possible options are:
Recruiting a temporary replacement (maternity cover).
Temporarily rearranging your business so that her role is performed by existing members of staff.
Recruiting a permanent employee to cover the role for the maternity period, but making it clear that the woman on leave can return to that role after her leave.
Can I appoint someone on a permanent contract to cover the maternity leave period?
Yes, but you must not do so with a view to the person employed to cover the maternity leave period taking over the pregnant employee’s responsibilities on a permanent basis. A pregnant employee is usually, depending on the number of weeks she was off, entitled to return to the same job after her maternity leave. Similar rules apply to returning from adoption leave and shared parental leave.
A pregnant employee is working on an important project. Can I remove her from this work to ensure continuity?
You must not remove a pregnant employee from her job unless she agrees. To change an employee’s job because she is pregnant, and not for a health and safety reason, or by agreement with her, is likely to be pregnancy discrimination.
I'm concerned that an employee's partner is about to give birth and they won't be able to travel on a job. What can I do?
Protection from pregnancy discrimination is only for women who are pregnant. However, the law says that a person can be protected from associative discrimination. That is when a person is treated less favourably because of their association with a person with a particular characteristic that is protected from discrimination by law, for example, where they are treated less favourably because they are caring for their disabled child. It is not clear whether this would apply in the case of pregnancy discrimination, but it may do. If for example, you took a man's responsibilities away in these circumstances it may be unlawful sex discrimination if you would not have treated a woman in the same way.