Here are four important actions to take when implementing a maternity leave plan for employers.

Is your business prepared to both offer parental leave and keep business running as usual?

A maternity leave plan for employers is important for any organization that wants to be competitive and compliant. Now is the time to develop a plan to ensure you offer employees as much leave as you reasonably can and to confirm that you're complying with all applicable federal and state laws.

As the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) dictates, businesses with 50 or more eligible employees must provide qualified individuals with up to 12 workweeks of leave for the birth and early care of children. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by the FMLA, according to the Department of Labor. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and paid and unpaid parental leave requirements may vary by state.

As finding the right balance can be complicated, it's important to work closely with HR professionals and/or legal counsel. These five tips can help you start thinking about to ensure that the needs of your employees and your organization are met.

Meet With the Expectant Parent

The moment one of your employees shares the news of a baby on the way, be sure to congratulate them. This is also a good opportunity to set up a meeting between the employee and an HR representative to relay your business's parental leave policy and address any concerns your employee may have about their impending leave. Be prepared to answer benefit-related questions and questions related to the FMLA.

Document Daily Activities

Have your expectant parent record their day-to-day responsibilities soon after they announce their leave date to set up an efficient training process for their temporary replacement. Have them create a document that includes a detailed description of tasks, processes and routine deliverables, along with relevant internal and external contacts. This will come in handy not only when your employee departs, but also if a situation arises where they need to stop working earlier than anticipated.

Reassign Work

Before your employee takes parental leave, you'll need to decide whether their work will be redistributed to another capable colleague or outsourced to a temporary worker. To help make this decision, weigh out the core business activities and noncritical activities that your departing employee is responsible for. In general, it's best to keep core responsibilities in-house to reduce risks to your business while outsourcing less-critical activities, like administrative tasks. New assignments should begin a month or so before your employee leaves to leave time for proper training and a smooth transition.

Inform the Team

Once you agree to leave terms with the expectant parent, it's time to update the team preferably in person with a timeline of their colleague's absence. Backup notification and a discussion on process adjustments, along with new training requirements, should also take place at the meeting.

Return to Work

Establish a return to work program to help reintegrate the employee back into the workplace. This can be beneficial for both the employee and the employer with the intended consequence of decreasing turnover and increating retention.

Businesses rely on strong teams to keep their day-to-day operations running smoothly. A solid maternity leave plan for employers means you can stay focused on your business while your employees take some time off to care of their new bundle of joy.

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