Managing parental leave

Last updated: 28 Apr 2016

This page is: archived

Managers and employees alike have responsibilities when it comes to parental leave. When reading this factsheet, it is worth also looking at the factsheet for employees about going on parental leave.

This checklist is designed for managers to assist in transitioning staff into and back from extended parental leave. Both men and women use parental leave and should be supported equally.

For managers, there are many business benefits to enabling staff to make the transition to parenthood and back into the workplace as smooth as possible. These include better morale, retention of talent, corporate knowledge and skills, and increased productivity.

All staff are valuable. The key is to find work arrangements that maximise that value for the agency while acknowledging the commitments that come with life.

Checklist for managers

Before an employee goes on parental leave

  • Familiarise yourself with any Return from Parental Leave toolkit or guidelines that your agency has published and use the contacts and procedures provided as your primary source.
  • Proactively discuss possible flexible working arrangement with staff going on parental leave. This includes men who are going on shorter-term leave at the time of their child's birth.
  • If your agency does have a toolkit, provide a copy to your employee along with contact details for the human resources team while on leave.
  • Ensure that maternity or paternity leave requests are formally submitted and approved in the system prior to the employee commencing leave. Staff may also have the option to access accrued recreational and/or long service leave during the 52 week parental leave period at either full or half pay.
  • Discuss and agree with the employee the level of contact they wish to maintain while on leave. Contact is on an opt-in basis and can be adjusted by the employee once on leave. Depending on your agency's IT capabilities, contact could include continued access to emails and being included on the section contact list for social events and announcements. Some agencies also have regular open forums where staff on parental leave can attend to be updated by senior management on major organisational changes. Speak with your human resources team to see what options are available.
  • As a manager, it is part of your duty of care under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to be mindful of the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees at all times. If a pregnant staff member is experiencing discomfort, they may request a workstation assessment and you can also let them know it is ok to take short, frequent breaks by standing or walking around as needed. For further guidance, contact the work health and safety in your agency.

When an employee returns from parental leave

  • Two weeks prior to the start date, ensure that a work desk can be assigned and notify IT that the employee is returning to that desk. Request that their desktop computer and systems be arranged in time for their return. * Request a work place assessment if the employee has been on extended parental leave.
  • Contact the area responsible for security passes in your agency to make them aware of the employee's return and that they will be requesting their pass back. Check if the pass has expired and, if so, fill in and sign the renewal form and leave it with them.
  • Review what projects or tasks the employee worked on before taking leave and consider what similar work is available for them to be assigned.
  • Confirm with the employee in the days leading up to their return that their pass is waiting for them (or a completed renewal form). Give a contact number in case there is an issue so someone from the team can sign them in.
  • Think about ways to re-engage the staff member back into the team. This could include a team morning tea and a one-on-one coffee meeting to discuss what changes have occurred during their leave and the scope of the work they are returning to.
  • Upon their return, offer the staff member a copy of any Return from Parental Leave toolkit or guideline your agency has in case it has been updated in the interim. Also point them to the availability of additional support services, such as any parent-to-parent mentor programs, parents' support group, or relevant facilities like breastfeeding rooms.