Many companies have come up with initiatives to support working moms in the workplace, but what about for mothers-to-be? Pregnant women in the workplace deserve the same recognition as mothers. In fact, their state of pregnancy may require a little more attention when they are still working full-time as employees.
While the Employment Act specifically protects pregnant working workers, expecting mothers in Southeast Asia continue to face pregnancy-related harassment and termination in the workplace. According to The Asean Post, pregnant women are passed over for promotions, demoted, and even dismissed. Women are also exposed to misguided beliefs in which employers feel that working women would be less dedicated to their jobs after returning from maternity leave, such as being unwilling to stay late or asking for more time off.
To commemorate Mother’s Day of 2022, here are ideas on how companies can support mother-to-be employees.
Abiding by Law and Regulation
To guarantee employees’ rights for mothers-to-be in the workplace, HR and employees must understand their roles in maternity policy. Employees should understand their responsibilities and privileges in the workplace throughout their pregnancy, while HR managers should ensure that the company’s policy does not violate the country’s employment law. In working with pregnant employees, each country may provide a different advisory. The following are some instances of maternity laws in various countries across Asia:
Building an Open Communication with Mothers-to-be
HR should inform managers of the responsibility of communicating with pregnant employees regarding their condition. The managers should stimulate an open and honest conversation on the rights and responsibilities of employees who are also mothers-to-be. The conversation does not have to happen in a formal meeting setting; it could also take place at a local cafe or other places that are appropriate for both sides. Remember to encourage employees to make them feel valued and safe under your leadership.
As the pregnancy grows, so will the pregnant employees’ expectations, such as attending prenatal checkups and classes as advised by their obgyns. Mothers-to-be will begin to make considerations about their maternity, including an anticipated leave date and preparing to hand over their work, as the due date gets closer. This is why you, as an HR manager or department supervisor, should work closely with your expecting employees to develop a leave plan.
Supporting Employees During and After Maternity Leave
Companies can further support mothers-to-be more than just arranging maternity leave that abides by the law and regulation by supporting them during and after their leave. Provide updated information to employees taking at least 90 days of maternity leave, such as how the handover job is handled, the potential of a pay raise, coverage of health insurance for the newborn, and employment opportunities or promotions that they wish to apply for. Do not burden them with jobs during the leave, as it can stress out mothers in their first few weeks after delivery. Only inform work-related updates that do not add up their stress to let them know that they are still a part of your company without making them guilty of not working.
Ask them if they need a gradual return to work, what that may look like, and how it can work out. You can also advise that mothers can use their annual leave to begin working a few days per week and slowly build up their pace at work. Have a meeting or a discussion as soon as employees return to work to address their comeback and any updates, guidelines, or concerns that either of you may have. Encourage team members to re-establish communication with the new working mother. You should also ask about any requirements related to their nursing program. For example, if she is breastfeeding, she may want access to a freezer to store the pumped milk.
Finally, Mother’s Day should be celebrated by both current mothers and those who are about to become one. Companies can help in so many ways, as this contributes to employee retention, well-being, and employer branding in the long run. Happy Mother’s Day!