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Supporting line managers: your stories of supporting pregnancy and maternity

In these case studies, you can find out what Working Forward members, such as Nationwide and BT, have been doing to support their line managers.

"When it comes to being flexible, we must do our utmost to keep the best people so that we can continue to provide world-class service to our clients."

Robyn Fisher, HR and Reward Business Partner

Flexible working at Mitie isn’t just for parents – it’s open to everyone, and we make sure we communicate that. The business world is changing around us and, with pressure for office space, increased commuting times and better communication, we need to think differently about how we work in order to keep up. Our business is mobile: we have numerous client sites, lots of offices and a huge geographic area to cover.

We encourage anyone to request flexible working if they wish to. We consider each request carefully and challenge our perceptions of what’s possible. We find a solution that works for the individual and for the business, and are not afraid to trial a flexible working arrangement. If it doesn’t work, then the reasons for that should be transparent to all parties. Both parties need to be realistic about what’s possible, but if flexible working isn’t an option in one role, there are plenty of other opportunities in our internal vacancies where it may be, which enables us to retain good people across the business.

We want to give managers the confidence and training to be open with their teams about the benefits and challenges of flexible working, to embrace modern communication channels in order to manage different working arrangements, and to value diversity within their team.

Our top tips for employees and line managers include setting up regular Skype calls if team members spend some time at home, and scheduling meetings appropriately if team members work reduced hours – little things like this can make a big difference. Set clear objectives for team members who are working flexibly so that they always know what’s expected from them. From a policy and process point of view, make sure you have clear, easily accessible documents and guidance for managers and employees, so they know what to do when it comes to putting forward or handling flexible working requests.

At Mitie, we will continue to look at new and different ways of adapting roles to flexible working requests. Some of the best people want to work flexibly, so we need to adjust our perceptions and our ways of working to ensure that we retain them.

BT: developing a maternity handbook

Equality specialist, Sally Ward, and Openreach General Manager, Jo Koroma, discuss a new maternity handbook that BT has created to support line managers dealing with employees who are pregnant or returning from maternity leave.

The handbook was developed in collaboration with BT’s women’s network, using the experiences of women who have undergone pregnancy and maternity at BT to help identify practical advice and top tips for line managers. It is complemented by an employee handbook.

Last updated: 10 Jul 2017