Strategies to Support Your Staff on Parental Leave

November 1, 2010

Parents who go on parental leave can sometimes be absent from the workforce for a considerable amount of time caring for their newborns.

An organisation can play an important role in keeping employees on leave engaged and excited about returning to work, particularly when it can be a daunting experience for primary caregivers returning to the workforce.

Here are some strategies to help support your expecting parents pre, during and post their parental leave:

PRE-PARENTAL LEAVE

  • Information Pack – a nice token from you as an employer would be to gather related information material that will support an expecting parent.For example, government assistance pamphlets, breastfeeding information, vouchers and childcare information etc.  Presenting this information in an information pack can be a nice thought to support a parent before the birth of a child.
  • Sit down with them and go through paperwork – in particular the parental leave application process, parental leave policy and highlight key milestones to see if they have any questions.
  • Outline what is going to happen with:
    • Their last pay, government & company paid parental leave payments
    • Period of absence that they are looking at
    • How they will be kept informed about the company whilst on leave
  • Regular Updates – throughout the pregnancy period, it is good to check in with an expecting mother to see how she is feeling and coping with being at work and if there is any additional support needed.

DURING PARENTAL LEAVE

  • Regular communication – a good way to assist an employee whilst on leave to return is to engage them whilst on leave.Some suggestions may include, sending a gift when the child is born, sending them company newsletters, keeping them informed of key information in your team/department, set up a buddy system that someone will touch base with them etc.
  • Fellow parents – if you’re organisation is big enough or have other new parents, it may be worthwhile creating an organisation’s parents group to keep in touch as well.
  • Managers – should also touch base to let me know what’s happening, start talking about their return and any changes in their work arrangements that they may be considering.

POST PARENTAL LEAVE

  • Regular catch ups – a Manager should catch up with a newly returned employee regularly to see how they are adjusting returning to work and how the organisation can support them to do so
  • Training – as staff may have been gone for a year or more, the staff member may need to gain additional training to get up to speed with any changes that may have occurred in their absence

By fostering a supportive environment for primary care givers, this will help employees feel more comfortable returning to the workforce.

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