For mothers, taking significant time off work to child-care can be both a personal gift and a workplace set back. Needless to say, this issue does affect both men and women. But with take-up for shared parental leave incredibly low, it is women more often than not who find themselves taking long career breaks and struggling to get back into work.
Those returning to work can often feel hindered by perceived skills gaps, lack of confidence or difficulty in managing their child care alongside work demands. We take a look at a few ways you can make life easier for mothers getting back into work.
Following time away it is normal to feel that the workplace has moved on without you. New processes may have replaced the old and old processes could be long forgotten after a year out of practice. Holding refresher courses for returning parents can ease a lack of confidence or concern about keeping up with the role. This could involve training on new programmes or software you now use, meetings with management to re-cap where the department is up to, introductions to new team members and a comprehensive hand-over from those who have covered the role in their absence.
Keep in Touch Days
It is little known that during maternity leave the individual is entitled to ten days, or twenty days during shared paternity leave, of paid ‘keep in touch days’ which are not deducted from the overall maternity allowance. Using these days efficiently could be the difference between having the confidence to return to work or not. Ensure that staff are aware of their right to use this before they go on maternity leave. These days can be used to actually come into work and catch up with their team before officially starting work, or can be more flexible with the option to utilise catch up calls with key people who can get them up to speed.
Setting up a group email or networking platform for parents can help to unite those who are all in a similar position to one another. Through this group parents can share and seek advice, such as gathering child care recommendations, or team up with other parents to share the duty of morning drop offs and evening pick ups. Creating a network can help new parents feel less alone at work and help them manage their work/life balance a little better with the help of others who can share the load.