A month-long survey of
manufacturing companies concludes that each maternity
leave case could in future
cost the manufacturing SME double the current £5
- 14,000 involved in getting replacement cover.
Currently firms use all sorts of tactics to lessen the
impact of the absence on the business, such as taking on
temporary workers, sharing work amongst existing staff,
training and changing work procedures.
Paternity leave is far easier to
handle at the moment because it is much shorter, currently
two weeks. But
when the government’s plans become reality, companies
may well have to redouble their efforts.
These findings are part of an analysis undertaken at the
request of seven manufacturing trade associations on the
five policy proposals it is promoting to improve work/life
balance and support families with children or others to
The government’s five proposals are: to extend paid
maternity leave to nine months and then twelve, give mothers
the right to share their leave entitlements with the child’s
father; extend the right to flexible working and get mothers
who are on leave to inform their employer earlier about
their return to work date.
The EAMA report entitled “Turning a good idea for
the family into a practical idea for manufacturing employers” looks
at each proposal in turn, from a general manufacturing
perspective and then by size of company having established
a benchmark for current practice.
Based on companies’ actual experience, EAMA’s
report concludes that the proposed longer term extensions
could cost small companies £10 – 28,000 a year
per case, depending on the skills set required. In addition
it will create problems with existing employment law in
EAMA’s chairman Graham Hayes points out that SME
engineering and manufacturing companies are not popular
career path choices for young women leaving university. “In
fact the typical employment profile for most SME companies
in the sector isoverwhelmingly male, and beyond childbearing
age. I can see that many companies will feel that this
additional complexities force them to carry on recruiting
in a similar vein. It’s an unfortunate fact of life.”
The second unintended consequence under current employment
law is that the 12-month extension will enable temporary
workers to claim permanent employment status.
Overall, the report shows that six in ten companies affected
by maternity leave have to take on a temporary worker for
the period. Amongst small employers (with less than 50
people) this rises to three in four firms.
Amongst all companies taking part in the survey, the extension
of maternity leave to 12 months is seen as having the biggest
impact on business. However when the data are de-aggregated
by company size, EAMA concludes that large manufacturers
are much more concerned about the extension of flexible
working rights to parents and carers.
There is little understanding just
yet as to how transferring some of the mother’s leave entitlement to the father
would work in practice and ‘companies therefore find
it difficult to assess what sort of an impact that proposal
will have on their business’, says the report.
Not all the impacts are business negative. The government
proposes that new mothers should give earlier notice of
the date when they will return to work. Over 80% of firms
see this as making a difference, albeit overwhelming a
Copies of the report can be downloaded
Notes to Editors:
- The seven EAMA member associations
British Automation and Robot Association (BARA); British
Turned Part Manufacturers Association (BTMA); British
Paper Machinery Suppliers Association (BPMSA); Gauge
and Toolmakers Association (GTMA); Manufacturing Technologies
Association (MTA); Printing, Publishing and Converting
Suppliers Association (PICON); Processing and Packaging
Machinery Association (PPMA)