Do you know what your organisation offers in its parental leave policy? It can be a big predicament for some parents: you find out you’re expecting and spend the first few weeks excitedly booking appointments, getting scans and buying all the books. And then it hits. How do you find out what your work entitlements are without giving away you’re pregnant?
While we encourage you to be honest and open with your employer about your pregnancy, some parents prefer to wait until the second trimester to share their news, when the risk of miscarriage becomes much lower.
Whether or not you decide to wait, it’s a good idea to look into your work and leave entitlements and responsibilities, both by law and within your organisation, so you are prepared when you announce your news to your employer. In Australia, by law you must let your employer know in writing that you intend to take parental leave at least 10 weeks before your last work day.
You’ll want and need to find out: what you’re entitled to, whether you get paid parental leave from your organisation, what benefits they offer, and whether you get paid leave for appointments. The list goes on. Your head will be spinning with questions and, more often than not, most people don’t even know their organisation’s general policies.
So, how do you find out without giving the game away? It’s not easy, but here are our top tips to help in your search to learn more.
Start searching your organisation’s portal or intranet
You’ll want to do this discreetly – which may be easier if you’re working from home or social distancing. If not, try and get in early one morning or stay late so you can spend some time searching without colleagues around you. There are a few places you can start:
- The Enterprise Agreement: This is an agreement negotiated between an employer and its employees setting out the terms and conditions of employment. You should find information in this document about what employees are entitled to from a parental leave perspective.
- The HR/People section on your company intranet. Often this area is filled with recruitment, jobs, leadership programs, etc., which often makes finding specific policies tricky. Keep searching as you should be able to locate some information here. Organisations leading the way will often have a dedicated parental leave section, which details policies, templates and a checklist relevant to your organisation. While more and more companies do this, many still do not, which is why we have developed Circle In, to help you take control of the process.
Speak with trusted colleagues
Is there someone you trust that has been through the journey and could perhaps send you some information? Catch up with that person over a video call. You can even ask in a roundabout way about what benefits they received: “Oh, you took 12 months. Does our organisation offer paid parental leave?” Although, this may be more difficult to slip into a conversation if you’re not currently working side by side.
Reach out to your diversity team (if you have one)
Obviously, they have an interest in supporting all employees equally and fairly, so if you don’t know or trust your HR partner, you could find someone in your diversity team to talk to.
Speak directly with your HR department
If all else fails and you still have nowhere to turn, then you should call your HR department and ask for the policy, and request to remain confidential. HR departments are there to help you, and so should be able and willing to send you the policy, whilst respecting your privacy.
There is no denying that the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is a really tricky time. It is when you most want to chat with others about your experience, or you may not be feeling your best and could do with a little extra support at work. Despite this, you may need or want to maintain confidentiality. Use this time to research and find out what you can. You might surprise yourself on your detective skills!
Oh, and a further tip, don’t print the policy and leave it on the printer!
Written by the Circle In team.