New ‘family friendly’ policies from Fenland Council could end up with pregnant women suspended on full pay

PREGNANT workers at Fenland Council could end up being suspended on full pay if health and safety experts ban them from doing their jobs and no alternative work is available.

The suspension on full pay option could be for the remainder of their pregnancy and until the beginning of their maternity leave, says a new “family friendly policy” to be introduced by the council.

Sam Anthony, head of HR, says in a 24 page report to next Monday’s staff committee that the new paternity, maternity, adoption and time off with dependants policies will ensure Fenland “is an employer of choice.”

Fresh from a wave of redundancies Fenland Council is to introduce the new policies to make it more attractive to work there.

Earlier this year Ms Anthony was forced to withdraw a proposed “kiss and tell” policy which would have compelled staff to report if they were in a relationship with a work colleague but these new polices she insists command widespread support.

“Once approved these new policies will be promoted as part of any future recruitment,” says Ms Anthony.

“Whilst the council is currently being prudent in relation to recruitment, the existence of such policies can be promoted to potential employees,” she says.

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It will form part of the council’s benefits package “and will help to attract new talent to the organisation and ensure that the council is an employer of choice”.

Pregnancy related issues form a sizeable chunk of the new policies which says every effort will be made to find women alternative roles but if these prove impossible the employee “will be entitled to her normal salary and contractual benefits unless she has unreasonably refused an offer of suitable alternative employment.”

The council says that during the first six months of maternity leave the employee will be entitled to receive all her contractual benefits except for salary but to include “for example private use of a FDC lease car, laptop, mobile phone and gym membership.” The council is also encouraging new mums to return for keeping-in-touch (KIT) days and up to a maximum of ten which will be paid for once they return to work officially.

Breast feeding facilities at work are also stipulated in the report as is allowing new mums to work flexibly so they can go home to feed their baby providing they live nearby.

Rules on paternity leave are also set out and a new section is devoted to adoptions whereby a worker who adopts a child can claim up to a year’s leave providing they have worked for the council for at least six months.

The council has also set out new procedures for those wanting time off “to deal with incidents involving a dependent and employees’ rights to request parental leave”.

The council has set out those areas which they considered as true emergencies involving proper dependents but says “you don’t have the right to time off for every problem. A burst boiler at home or problems with your pet do not count as neither involves a dependent.”

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