Christmas and new year is a great time to plan a return-to-work strategy or change your current work flexibility requirements. If you are returning to work, make sure you think about updating your resume (cover all of your non-paid work while on leave!), investigating short courses if your skills need fine turning, and communicating your return to work intentions to your family, friends and old work colleagues. Great leads often come from people you know.
If you are returning to a job, get in touch with your team and go out for lunch. Catch up on the office gossip. What has been happening while you have been away? Catch up with your manager. Have a chat about flexible work options if you haven't already. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The National Employment Standards, due to start in January 2010, give parents with children under 5, the right to request flexible work arrangements. Talk to your HR manager / manager about this new legislation and find out how they are dealing with it.
If you are currently working and you are going to need more flexible working hours to manage work and family, start preparing a business case for your manager. The business case should consider items such as working hours, work that will be performed at home versus the office, and how clients needs will be affected. Early next year, you should meet with your manager to discuss your needs. If it is a fair and reasonable request, you may have a good chance in getting what you want thanks to the National Employment Standards being introduced in Janauary 2010.
Importantly, the national skills shortage and Australia's aging population are starting to impact on employers so they are more willing to explore flexible work options to retain good employees.