Just ONE conversation with HR early on can make a huge difference to an expectant parent’s commitment to your organisation – and could be the make or break to a happy and well supported period of leave.
We have worked with thousands of parents over the last 10 years, and one thing they all need is to know they have internal support and recognition for the life change they are about to go through. From a HR perspective, we can’t always control the level of support from managers, but here are a few things we can support:
First things first: it is standard policy and procedure for many organisations to offer early support for those announcing their pregnancies – but do you offer this same level of support for expectant dads or partners? Often, we don’t get to hear about dads/partners circumstances until they go on paternity leave – can a process and communications change be implemented so that partners are encouraged to connect with you earlier?
- Congratulate and offer support. Sounds strange reminding people to congratulate, but you wouldn’t believe how it can get overlooked in the worry of responding ‘correctly’ and jumping ahead to the logistics. Let him or her know how HR can help and the role of their manager. Acknowledge that this is a huge period of change and discuss who is there to help and at what stage
- Discuss the policy. Don’t just send the link or give the handbook: some policies can be difficult to navigate and it’s more useful for them to ask specific questions about how each part of the policy relates to their own individual circumstances. Common personal questions are around their personal holiday and any bonus entitlements. Explain the Shared Parental Leave policy (especially for expectant dads) and give examples of how this has worked with others to date
- Ensure health, safety and wellbeing comes first. Offering a H&S assessment is mandatory to pregnant employees – especially those who are in roles that put them at risk. Introduce any internal EAP details and other initiatives you may be running
- Support the manager. Not all managers will have managed someone through maternity and paternity; or if they have it could have been a long time ago. A manager’s attitude and support (or lack of) can be the make or break of a new parent’s experience and is likely to have a huge effect on the return to work. Offer to meet the manager or have a phone call to offer support, especially if you have any concerns.
- Explain the benefits of Keeping in Touch; do this before maternity or Shared Parental Leave, or ensure the manager has had this conversation. Explain there is an entitlement of 10 Keeping in Touch days (or KIT) or 20 SPLIT days for those on Shared Parental Leave. Discuss ways in which these days could be beneficial for both those going on leave and the team/organisation.
As always, contact us if you need any more help or have any specific questions firstname.lastname@example.org