maternity leave policy

10 steps to writing a maternity policy for your small business

Photo from Pixabay

By Liz

When Sarah and I started Pomegranite just over six years ago, having babies wasn’t even on our radar. We were about growing the business, quick as a jungle vine, to something real with meetings and clients and invoices. Since then, our roots have deepened with experience, our branches have expanded like our service offering and our trunk has become wide and strong with an incredible core: our team.

As friends started having kids, it seemed like a good time to dream up a policy that’s not just the legal bare minimum, but something more in line with our company culture and values. Here are our 10 tips for writing a maternity policy for your small business:

  1. Put together the policy before anyone gets pregnant

This is an important policy. It has a big impact on team members’ lives during a very important personal time and it has a big impact on the business, which must accommodate for extended leave. It’s close to home for everyone, so it’s much easier and cleaner to make these big decisions while everyone can be objective about it.

  1. See it as an investment in your team

Many small businesses avoid looking at this policy until they’re forced to because it seems like a big cost with no return on that investment.

We see that this is a hugely important time in a team member’s life. The business can provide better conditions than the bare minimum instructed by the law and we want to do this so that, when the time comes, our team members are happy, healthy and ready to return to work. This is good for our team, and good for our business.

  1. Research the labour law

The South African Labour Guide is a handy resource but more specifically, make sure you read and know your obligations as an employer in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

The conditions in the act are a good starting point from which you can build your policy, and a good reminder of the things you need to include.

  1. Look at the business’s financial position and long-term goals

Once you’re aware of the minimum dictated by law, delve into your finances and financial goals. This will help you gain a sense of what financial commitments you’re able to make in the policy.

  1. Consider the business’s values and company culture

It’s not just a cake on your birthday that makes a company’s culture, it’s all the ways that everyone in the team interact, and this includes policies. It’s important to bear in mind your company’s values and culture when developing any policy.

  1. Include experiences beyond your own

You might choose to live and love one way but consider all the other experiences that current and future team members might choose. For example, our policy caters for same-sex couples and adoption.

  1. Imagine a worst-case scenario

It’s a great feeling to be able to be generous in your policy, but also remember that this is your agreement when things might not be easy with team members. Make sure the policy is comprehensive and takes into account the consequences of choices or behaviour that are detrimental to the business.

  1. Share with the team for feedback

It’s important that the whole team feels included and buys into a policy that will affect them. They may also have important insights and suggestions to contribute.

  1. Formalise in current contracts

Don’t forget to add this policy as an addendum to your current contracts and to your template for future agreements.

  1. Review and update

People change, things change, businesses change. Review the policy once a year to make sure it’s still relevant and meaningful to your team.