Why you should ask your employees to create a parental leave plan

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As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. 

Establishing a parental leave plan allows the employee and manager to form open communication, set basic expectations, and create a positive experience from the start.

Supporting parents to thrive both at work and home leads to improved engagement and retention outcomes. But how do you offer helpful support when each parental leave journey is different? 

We all know that what one employee requests, another may protest. For example, weekly check-ins may be one person’s dream but another person’s nightmare. To offer support to each employee based on their individual needs, provide them with a sense of choice and control by developing a plan together from the start. This shows your joint commitment to creating a positive experience and confident return.

Mind the gap
Unconscious and conscious bias can lead to parents falling through the gaps when it comes to promotion and career advancement opportunities. As an increase in unpaid caregiving duties rises, so does the assumption that parents don’t want extra responsibilities at work. This isn’t true for many parents and can cause their talents to be overlooked in internal hiring decisions. Avoid these assumptions by deliberately building career conversations into your plan so you can understand your employee’s short-term and long-term professional goals.

When should I encourage my employee to develop a parental leave plan?
It’s best to create a plan at some point between the announcement of their pregnancy/adoption to 4 weeks before the leave date. Be clear in your expectations, and outline each party’s commitment, as well as a timeline to follow. 

But before you get to specifics, the first step is to show that you care. Be flexible, and schedule a time to work through a plan together: “I want you to have the best possible experience, and I’m not willing to leave that to chance. Let’s schedule a time to talk through a plan for your parental leave period and your return to work”.

During the conversation, use the parental leave plan template and work your way through the steps.

Final Three Tips…….

  1. Stay accountable: Document your actions, so you aren’t relying on your memory to keep you accountable. If your direct report has signed up to the Parents Portal and stated you as their manager, you will receive scheduled manager nudges to guide you along the process.
  2. Keep in touch: Check in with your employee at the halfway point to ask, “Is this plan still working for you, or do you want to change anything?”.
  3. Empower them: By proactively supporting them according to their plan.

Circle In are proud to have partnered with Gemma Saunders, Founder of Workplace Edit, to develop this resource.

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