Replacing someone on maternity leave – advantages and disadvantages
Maternity leave is behind a large number of temporary contracts that employers use, seeking to replace an employee who is absent during her pregnancy and for the first few months of her child’s life. But for the substitute in question, does the situation have more advantages or disadvantages? What are the specifics of replacing someone on maternity leave ?
Replacing someone on maternity leave gives time to prepare
Unlike sick leave, maternity leave can be prepared in advance! In principle, the person leaving knows the dates of the beginning and end of her absence, which means that she and her employer have time to plan for it. You won’t be hired in a last minute crisis, and the person you are replacing will have the time to train you in your duties and tell you about her place in the company before leaving. So you will not be thrown straight into the deep end without having learned to swim, as may be the case for some other substitutions.
Be careful of the shiny object of permanent employment
Are you doing a great job during your substitution, to the point that you are told that your employer would like to keep you on even after the absent person returns? So much the better, but don’t celebrate too soon – the company does not have the right to keep the position in question for you once the official occupant returns. She is required to return to her job. However, the employer certainly has the right to create a position expressly for you if he wishes to keep you on longer than planned. To avoid getting false hopes, make sure that this is what’s in mind.
The question of integration
As with any replacement, you will be in the company for a predetermined period. You should not encounter any technical problems to do your work, but socially the situation can be delicate, especially if the person your are replacing is highly valued in a tight team. Knowing that you are not there permanently, it can be tempting not to make efforts to create relationships, and from their side the other employees may prefer to hang in patiently while waiting for their colleague to return, rather than taking the time to get to know you. Yet cordial or even friendly relations can make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
What about the salary?
Even if you carry out exactly the same tasks as the person you are replacing, you will not necessarily get paid as much. Certainly, you have the right qualifications, but you don’t have the same seniority in the company. It is also possible that your position is not as central as it was when it was held by your predecessor; some tasks may wait until she returns instead of being processed immediately, and it could be that the boss and colleagues themselves take care of the more strategic aspects that require in-depth knowledge of the company’s activities, at least at the beginning.