With the announcement of paid parental leave coming into force in early 2011, Australia’s leading gender diversity expert, Maureen Frank, has released my mentor – parental leave a practical guide for employees on how to plan for, and transition back from, parental leave. Maureen has also shared with us her top tips for returning to work after parental leave (see below).
Ms Frank said, “Paid parental leave will make a big difference, but as some of the doubters have raised, on its’ own, it won’t be enough to keep good women in the workforce and reduce the economic impact of women leaving. We need to get practical and educate women on how to come back to work and most importantly, help them believe that they can do it!”
From an employer’s perspective, Emberin’s my mentor – parental leave program tackles head on the issues associated with women not returning from parental leave and will go some way to help reduce this significant cost to business.
The parental leave guide has been developed in the same style as Maureen Frank’s highly successful my mentor suite of programs, as a self-paced course delivered by DVD, CD and workbook, and can be easily undertaken in an intensive day or over a couple of weeks.
The program has been developed in partnership with Telstra and Swinburne University of Technology and has been created specifically to help organisations provide a guide for their employees on how to manage parental leave, both personally and professionally.
Designed to motivate the participant into coming back to work in some capacity, the program takes a pragmatic and practical step by step approach and includes setting goals, plans and budgets around parental leave.
The creator of the program, Maureen Frank, is well credentialed on the subject, having raised twins as a single working mother and reached high levels in her career as a former Telstra Business Woman of the Year and BRW Rising Star.
Ms Frank said she is concerned that sometimes women did not appreciate that parental leave is the tipping point for them and it can have far reaching future economic impacts for women.
“The ‘tipping point’ of parental leave is a key catalyst to reduced economic security for women and it is one of the reasons we are more likely to see women in poverty in Australia than men.
“It is an economic reality today for women in Australia to have to go back to work after having their baby, but the elephant in the closet is that most women actually do want to go back to work and they just need some guidance and support on how to make this happen, because, let’s face it, it’s not easy!” said Ms Frank.
“I’ve put this program together to help organisations help their employees maintain their careers, consider flexible working arrangements and other strategies, in order to ultimately help employers retain their female talent,” she said.
Ms Frank said with a high proportion of the workforce being female, organisations need to adopt education and training strategies specifically for women in order to see a better return on investment with their existing talent, and also to create better work cultures and more dynamic results.
“One significant key to seeing more women being retained and advancing in organisations is to have strategies aimed at ensuring their talent pool of women returns to work after having a baby. After all, the Government has now budgeted to spend $260 million on this per annum from 2011, so it is a big issue and we need to address it.”
The program includes a DVD featuring tips from leading Australian corporate women including CEOs, leading public servants and high ranking employees from the Australian Navy.
Maureen’s top tips for returning to work after parental leave are:
1. Returning to work doesn’t always go exactly as you think it should. Plan to be flexible and give yourself a break.
2. Plan some “dry run” days with day care or your child carer the week before you return.
3. Plan to start on a Wednesday so that you’ll have only three days of your new routine the first week.
4. If you can, take advantage of some sort of flexibility – at least temporarily throughout the first few weeks. You can use your parental leave consecutively or incrementally throughout the first year of your baby’s life.
5. Sleep deprivation is real. Adjusting to the office again can be difficult on a few hours sleep. Try to plan for it by maintaining healthy eating habits and getting as much rest as you can, when you can.
6. Make sure you have several backup childcare contacts in place.
7. When possible, particularly in those first transitional weeks, plan to ‘outsource’ as much as possible. Is grocery delivery available? Delivered meals? A part time housecleaner?
8. Be clear on the roles between your partner and yourself.
9. Make sure you and your manager are clear on what starting expectations are and what the role will entail.
10. Get rid of the guilt associated with leaving your child – remember, you will be a better mother if you are a happy mother.
my mentor – parental leave will be available from October 1 and forms part of a greater suite of my mentor programs, all developed in partnership with Telstra and Swinburne University of Technology, including:
- my mentor – challenging women to step up
- my mentor – manager
- my mentor – alumni
- my mentor – mastering gender leadership
For more information visit the website www.emberin.com.au