Woman holding baby while using laptop and phone

Parental leave can cause significant disruptions in your business if you are not prepared for it. By having in place a culture, policies and systems that support parental leave, you will enable a smoother transition. In addition, you will promote your business as a family friendly workplace that your valuable team members want to return to.

With this in mind, here are 4 things you can do to help your business manage parental leave:

1) Be prepared to execute your parental leave strategy quickly

As an employer or manager, it would be ideal to have several months’ notice that one of your team members is planning to take parental leave. However, the Government of Canada Labour Standards states that employees are only required to provide a minimum of 28 days notice. As such, it is important that you are prepared to implement a parental leave strategy quickly to minimize the disturbance to your operations. To facilitate the swift execution of your plan, we recommend that you pre-document your company policy, assign people in your organization to manage the process and encourage your team to keep an up-to-date record of their tasks, instruction manuals, logins, etc., so that someone could promptly step in.

2) Empower the parent-to-be

When you are informed that a member of your staff will be taking parental leave, ask them for their input on what the upcoming transition should look like. The expectant parent knows better than anyone else what their day-to-day duties are and how to best transfer their knowledge. Involve the employee in any hiring or training processes where possible. This will not only make the person filling in for them more informed, it will also show your employee that their opinions and expertise are valued. In addition, it may also help to relieve your team member’s workplace anxieties and allow them to focus instead on the new addition to their family.

3) Encourage contact

Handling a parental leave positively isn’t just ethically sound, it is also good business. A knowledgeable, experienced team member is extremely valuable to an organization, and losing them can represent a significant loss. To encourage retention, ask the new parent if they are okay with the company staying in touch with them to say hello and to learn about the infant’s progress, perhaps by email or phone. Invite the parent in during a lunch hour so that they remain connected to the team and perhaps organize a collection to purchase a gift for the family. All of this will show your employee that they are missed and they will be welcomed back with open arms when the parental leave is over.

4) Establish a process for off-ramping & on-ramping

Off-ramping is when your employee embarks on their parental leave. Ensure you place a qualified worker in the vacant role (you can enlist the services of an experienced recruitment agency to assist!) and build in time for ‘passing of the baton’ to ensure a smooth transition. On-ramping, the period of adjustment when the parent returns to work, is also a vital step. As a manager, ask yourself these questions:

  • Should I book time with my team member to update them on changes in the market or policies that have occurred in the intervening months?
  • Is Human Resources on track with the technicalities of this employee’s return?

Considering questions such as these will improve the on-ramping experience, ensuring that everyone in your business can celebrate the growth of your employee’s family and that they can re-join the team with ease.