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.

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