One mother’s experience of using her keeping in touch days

We talk a lot about keeping in touch days at Circle In. Used well, these days can be so valuable in improving your confidence in returning to work. Keeping in touch days are an incredible benefit but, strangely, most women we speak to aren’t aware they even exist.

So what are keeping in touch days? When you’re on unpaid parental leave, they allow you to go back to work for up to 10 days and be paid by your employer (at your normal rate of pay). It’s a great way to stay connected with your workplace, refresh your skills, and boost your confidence in your transition back to work.

Jane shares her personal experiences across three lots of parental leave. Her story highlights the difference using your keeping in touch days can make, especially whilst being guided by a knowledgeable and supportive HR manager.

This is Jane’s story:

“On parental leave with my first baby, I didn’t know about keeping in touch days. I just knew I was able to return to work part-time. I went back to work when my baby was seven months old to a position with considerably less responsibility. It was a big demotion.

During my second pregnancy, the business was restructuring. I was not ‘allowed’ back into my substantive position, although it was not changing in any way. I had to fight to claim my position and to ensure my substantive role would be held. I did this by going full-time for the last 10 weeks before I went on parental leave. At the time, our HR manager was unaware of (and did not research anything to do with) parental leave, doing rather just as the CEO pleased. 

I returned from my second parental leave to a new CEO and a new HR manager who knew the law inside out. I returned to work when baby number two was six months old, understanding my rights, and having used my keeping in touch days. The new HR manager made a point of informing me of all the information I needed to transition smoothly back into work. I returned feeling like I had a functioning brain and it would be of use to the organisation.

On parental leave number three, I have been keeping in touch with the organisation all the time. I have just started negotiations on how I will use my keeping in touch days and eventually return to work.

The organisation has evolved dramatically over the last four years, largely because of a strong HR manager and a CEO who puts family first. I urge others to understand the parental leave beast. Going back to work this time feels like I am walking into an environment that is, at last, supportive of working parents”.

For more information on keeping in touch days, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

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