Friday, March 19, 2010

Parental leave checklist for employers

Retaining employees is becoming a priority for employers as the talent pool starts to shrink. Retaining working parents should be a priority and it doesn't have to be difficult. Showing that you care and identifying how you will stay in touch are key to their return.

Use our checklist below for guidance. View our Working Parents Toolkit and Parental leave Program Toolkit - these tools may be perfect for your organisation:

Use this summary checklist to help managers prepare for an employee’s parental leave:

* Provide your staff member with the company parental leave information and parenting pack.

* Establish a communication plan with your staff member.

* Discuss the prospect of flexible work arrangements with your staff member on their return to work. (NOTE: The employee and the manager need to be aware of the flexible work arrangements policy, and procedures they need to follow to request a flexible working arrangement when the time comes to return to work.)

* Discuss and plan the gradual transition from work to parental leave e.g. finding a replacement and insuring instructions have been written so the replacement person can transition into the role effectively.

* Discuss with your staff member how they would like to be communicated with while on leave. What information would they like to be kept in the loop with and how often?

* Send out a communication to the team and others before the staff member leaves notifying them of the finish date and what will be happening to the position during your staff member’s absence.

* Plan which meeting minutes the staff member would like to have distributed to them while on leave.

* Seek out if the staff member can have remote access to work systems such as the internet to keep abreast of company news and changes as they occur.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flexible work panel - tip for employers

Create a 'flexible work panel'. Managers typically don't have a thorough understand of flexible work practices or how to manage a flexible workforce. So, in an effort to help managers, create a panel to assess flexible work requests that includes the manager of the employee requesting flexibility, an HR representative, and a member of the senior management team. The manager will learn about how to assess a flexible work arrangement, and senior management will have a direct insight into the needs of their employees with the intention of creating a more flexible workplace culture.

Talk to us about our Flexible Work Proposal Toolkit for all employees. It provides your business with a solution to managing employees' flexibility requests.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Game plan - What to ask your employer before going on parental leave

Parents who have taken parental leave will tell you that being prepared for your departure and potential return to work in advance makes the whole experience much less stressful for everyone involved - baby included! “I wish I had thought more about this before I went on leave” is a common response from working parents.

The benefit of planning in advance means that you can gradually hand-over work commitments, enjoy a safe pregnancy at work, explore possible return to work options, and review your career aspirations to factor in family and maintaining personal balance.

Some of the immediate questions that may spring to mind include:

* When will I finish work?
* Who will look after my workload?
* How will my work and career plans be impacted?
* How will my needs be accommodated post-baby?
* Should I be planning my return to work now?
* When will I return and in what capacity?

Discussion tips:

You need to understand your rights and obligations, in addition to your employer's policies and procedures when it comes to going on parental leave.

Questions for your HR representative -

- If you haven't already, request a copy of the Flexible Work Policy, Parental Leave Policy and the Telecommuting Policy. If they have all three, you are in good hands.
- Ask if there are any working parents programs or flexible work programs you should know about.
- Do they have a parental leave program to ensure you will stay in touch with work?
- Are parental leavers given internet access to access thw rok intranet and emails?
- Is there a register that your name should be on so you don't miss out on company annoucements or mailouts to all staff? Give HR your preferred contact information.

Questions for your manager -

- Talk to your manager about flexible work options. All parents with children under 5 years of age have the right to request flexible work arrangements.
- If you are interested in doing ad-hoc project based work after a while, find out if your manager would be interested in using you as a resource when you are ready.
- How do you intend to stay in touch with your team? Talk about attending team meetings occasionally. What team emails will you continue to be copied in on? Ask you manager about other ideas to stay in touch.

If your manager or HR representative has shown no interest in any of your questions above, you may need to start looking for a more flexible employer.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A new cloud of confusion over paid parental leave scheme

Over the weekend, I was disgusted to hear of Tony Abbott's grand plans for a paid parental leave scheme if Liberals win the next election.

Over the past couple of years, this country has debated the pros and cons of paid parental leave and who should pay for it - even though we are one of 2 OECD countries who still does not have a formal Government funded paid parental leave system.

The Productivity Commission was tasked to work with interest groups to find a solution. Initially, it was planned that business would initially fund the paid parental leave payments until reimbursed by Government - and they would have to pay superannuation contributions. Business groups were extremely critical of this approach because most Australians are employed by small businesses who could not afford to fund the paid parental leave scheme upfront or the ongoing superannuation contributions.

So now Tony Abbott wants big businesses to pay without reimbursement, and they don't even employ most of Australia. Talk about creating confusion and prolonging this issue.

Start reading about how other countries have successfully implemented a Government paid parental leave system. Yes, it is public money but start considering the return on investment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting back to work after 17 years

Every week, I receive many questions from CareerMums users asking for advice on getting back to work. Here is a recent question and answer:

Q: I've been looking after my children for 17 years. I'm in a position now where I need to find work. I would like to work in womens fashion but because I have 4 children I really need to work mum hours. Can you help me or maybe point me in the right direction.I am hard working, reliable, and honest.

A: My advice is to contact a preferred women’s fashion outlet and ask for flexible hours. Employers are starved for good workers and they are quite willing to offer flexible hours for the right staff now. Be confident and ensure you add your non-paid work to your resume – even though you have not been getting paid, you have still been working so think about things that you have done that can be transferred into work speak. For example, Tuck shop duty – customer service, handling money, working in a team. I know that Sportscraft is now targeting employees aged 30 and over because the clothes they sell attract women of this age group - it makes sense!