Why introduce a Parental Leave Policy?
As more working parents seek to improve the integration of their job and caring responsibilities, workplaces are realising the importance of providing assistance to their employees to manage the juggle.
Designing an inclusive Parental Leave Policy, that is supportive of all family types and caring scenarios within a family, is not only vital to make the transition easier for employees, but also key to enabling diversity, inclusion and reducing gender inequality in the workplace.
Introducing a Parental Leave Policy supports your employees in their transition pre, during and post leave, acknowledging their work and caring responsibilities, and improves their ability to participate in the workforce.
What are the benefits?
Having a best practice inclusive Parental Leave Policy in your organisation that is actively encouraged and available to all is unequivocally good for both your business and your employees.
- Enhanced employee engagement and retention
- Enhanced ability to attract talent
- Enhanced inclusion and equality outcomes
- Enhanced reputational value
- Enhanced employee wellbeing outcomes
What should you include in your policy?
- An introductory statement is a good way to present your policy and allows you the opportunity to voice your organisation’s inclusive approach to gender and all family types. A strong introductory statement can demonstrate to your employees that you are 100% behind your parental leave policy and that you are willing to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to implementing it.
- A clearly outlined scope will ensure that your employees’ eligibility and the length of leave available to them. For example, is it only permanent staff who are allowed access to the policy? Is leave available from an employee’s very first day or post-probation, after 12 months service?
- Consider what you can afford. Not all parental leave policies will be the same, as not all organisations are the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide some form of support to your employees. Consider what best practice examples exist in other organisations and what your workplace could adopt based on your size and workforce needs. See Parents At Work Case Studies for leading examples of PL policies from a variety of companies and industries.
- Clear definitions will mean your policy is easy to read and accessible by all. Keep it simple, free from bias and jargon. Review relevant language used to define ‘parental leave’ and be inclusive – using the terms such as ‘primary carer’ and ‘secondary carer’ can be limiting and reinforce gender bias around caring. Best practice is to ensure your policy offers all employees, regardless of gender (including same sex parents) equal access to parental leave.
- Include an outline of provisions for your organisation’s paid and unpaid parental leave and reference the Government provisions available to your employees as well. For example, will you pay superannuation on paid leave but not unpaid leave? Will your employees be able to access government support at the same time as your organisation’s support? Best practice is to pay Superannuation on paid and unpaid leave and to allow employees to access their employer-funded paid parental leave flexibly (as opposed to a block of leave) – this encourages greater opportunity for parents to share leave and access it when and how they need to.
- A ‘Keeping in Touch’ section will ensure your employees feel supported whilst on their leave. When employees stay connected to their workplace during leave with regular communication, the return-to-work transition becomes much smoother and can make a big difference in retaining your talent.
- Ensure you have clear guidance on how employees need to apply for leave with a ‘How to Apply’ section. Applying for parental leave can be stressful for some, especially if the process is complex or your employees feel discouraged in applying. An easy process will ensure your employees know they are supported. This section can also include guidance on extensions and making changes to leave.
- Include a statement on your position of career progression and remuneration review whilst staff are on leave. Many employees fear their career may stall whilst away, and so any reassurance you can provide around this will support your employees’ experience at home, and ultimately their transition back into their role after leave.
- A section on what is required, and what support they will be given, when returning to work is just as important. Your employee needs to know that their role is waiting for them for when they return and what your expectations are around their return-to-work transition. Consider including how much notice is required before they return, any flexible work arrangement options that may be available, the process for talking to their Manager, what return-to-work training support is available etc.
- Finally, be loud and proud and promote your parental leave policy internally and externally. Employees want to work for organisations that care about their work life needs. Your parental leave policy is part of your employee value proposition and commitment to creating a diverse, equal and inclusive workplace.
Read the business case for action; Advancing Parental Leave Equality & Introducing Shared Care in Australia white paper here
Nikki Beaumont, CEO of HR company Beaumont People, shares how she was able to implement a Parental Leave Policy in her organisation despite the initial doubts around whether a smaller company would benefit. Listen to her podcast discussion in Proof SMEs can do Parental Leave: an interview with Nikki Beaumont here
Property Exchange Australia (PEXA), Australia’s leading electronic property settlement provider, launched a suite of family-friendly policies in 2019, including a leading Parental Leave Policy. The policy includes six-months of paid parental leave for the primary carer and three months of paid leave for secondary carers. Read more here
Need further support?
One of our founding organisations Parents At Work, supports organisations with the design, review and development of parental leave policies and processes including implementing support services for their parents.
Parents At Work will review the effectiveness of existing parental leave, flexible work and other family friendly workplace policies and processes against best practice and minimum standards.
For an initial consultation and discussion about implementing a parental leave policy in your workplace, or to review your current one, please email [email protected]
If your organisation is interested in starting the process to becoming a certified Family Friendly Workplace, please put forward your expression of interest here.