Going on parental leave and coming back to work

Things to consider before going on parental leave and coming back to work from leave

Maintaining communication and contact during parental leave

Some people experience a sense of isolation during periods of parental leave, so we encourage you to stay in touch with your supervisor and co-workers. Here are some suggestions about how to maintain contact and stay up to date:

  • Ensure that you have been given the choice as to whether you want to be contacted during this time (other than when the University is obliged to contact you).
  • Check that your email address is kept on your work unit's email network, so that you receive relevant work based information.
  • Ask that information about faculty updates, operational plans or any major procedural or structural changes proposed or taking place in the workplace are forwarded to you.
  • Retain professional memberships to maintain your skills and knowledge.
  • Drop by for social events, e.g., farewells, birthday lunches and Christmas parties.
  • You may wish to discuss and agree to other options about maintaining communication and contact during leave with your supervisor.

Keeping in touch days - during leave

Keeping in touch days allow a staff member who is still on paid or unpaid parental leave to go back to work for a few days.

If are caring for a baby or newly adopted child, this is a good way for you to stay up to date, refresh skills and assist your return to work.

Work on a keeping in touch day may include:

  • participating in a planning day
  • undertaking training
  • attending a conference

Keep in mind there are some rules about the type of work that can be done on these days.

Keeping in touch days can be worked in any way that you are agreeable to:

  • A keeping in touch day can be worked at least 42 days after the birth of a child or adoption. It can only be earlier if you request it. If a request is made, a keeping in touch day can't be worked earlier than 14 days after the birth or adoption. You and your employer have to agree to the keeping in touch days.
  • You don't have to use keeping in touch days if you don't wish to.
  • Payment for keeping in touch days: you will receive your normal wage for each keeping in touch day or part day.

Returning to work

You are required to contact your supervisor to discuss returning to work at least four weeks prior to the end of your parental leave. You will also need to provide written notice of your intention to return to work and your preferred arrangements. It is advisable to commence discussions well in advance with your supervisor.

Return to work plans may include requests to work various types of alternate arrangements or part-time work. Your manager may want to discuss your request with Human Resource Services. Please allow adequate time for consideration, negotiation and planning.

It is important to make your request under the return to work clause of your respective enterprise agreement. The initial period of returning to work from parental leave can be from a period of between three to twelve months. If you wish to continue to work after this initial period, please contact the HRS Support Team.

Changes affecting your position

If a change management process affecting your position occurs while you are on parental leave, you will be contacted by your supervisor and advised of the proposal and offered the opportunity to be consulted on the change process. If the outcome of the change process determines that the position you held prior to parental leave no longer exists then:

  • You will be offered to return to a comparable position for which you are qualified, or,
  • If no comparable position exists you will be provided notice that you are a detached staff member and the relevant workplace agreement redeployment and redundancy provisions will apply.

Where a change process occurs resulting in changes to some of your tasks and activities of your position, but the position still exists at the same level, your supervisor will consult with you on the changes to your position. It would be expected that you would return to work to the changed position.

Returning to your previous position

Unless there are particular circumstances, you will return to the position held prior to commencing parental leave. Exceptions to this include:

  • If the position no longer exists you will be offered a similar position for which you are qualified.
  • If you request to return on a part-time basis and the business requirements of the position do not allow the position to be part-time.
  • If you were moved to a new role during pregnancy for health and safety reasons, you will return to your original role.
  • If you were successful in promotion or a selection process, or voluntarily transferred to a new position during parental leave, you will return to the new position.
  • If you were on secondment during your period of parental leave and that has since ceased, you will return to the position you held before the secondment.

How can a supervisor assist staff members who are returning to work from parental leave?

  • Recognise that adapting to returning to work can be quite challenging. Discuss with the staff member how they would like to be supported during this period. Some of these challenges may only be realised by the same member after the first initial period of returning to work, it is important check in with the staff member regularly during the first couple of months.
  • Ensure that return to work positions are well-considered, designed and communicated with staff, and arrangements are regularly assessed.
  • Encourage discussion regarding flexible working arrangements before the first period of returning to work ceases, Have this conversation early as requests to work flexibly must be submitted at least six weeks prior to the staff member’s return to work date.
  • Ensure the staff member’s workload is reduced in line with reduction in hours.

Some staff members are capable of increasing their return to work hours after a period of time. It is useful to be able to review and adjust working hours from home after a trial return to work period.

For academic staff

Supervisors should ensure that the appropriate consideration is given to teaching, research and service when allocating work for staff members who are returning part-time. This should discussed and agreed at the time the staff member requests to either return to work on a part-time basis or requests a flexible work arrangement. The supervisor should also adjust research and service expectations to reflect the agreed plan.

Supervisors should also provide support to allow staff members to maintain career trajectory over this period by discussing strategies prior to, during, and on return from parental leave.