Getting parental leave right requires following best practices when crafting and implementing organizational policies. Here are five steps you can take to meet employee needs and promote a supportive work environment.
Provide Clear Communication and Documentation
Good communication about parental leave takes many forms. Make sure to provide written documentation of the company’s parental leave policy, including eligibility, leave length, and the employee’s rights and obligations upon return.
Make sure that employees are aware of their ability to take parental leave. This information can be delivered through push methods such as email, workflow management software, informational group sessions, or individual consultations. You can also make sure employees know how to access this policy on demand, whether through a printed document or on the company’s intranet.
Offer Inclusive Leave Options
Create policies that are flexible and tailored to a variety of parental needs. Parental leave doesn’t have to be one size fits all: You might offer a mix of paid and unpaid leave, flexible work arrangements, and reduced work hours, allowing employees to choose the option that best suits their needs and circumstances.
Create a Coverage Plan
HR and managers should work with employees to create a coverage plan before the scheduled start of parental leave. Plan for the transition by outlining the employee’s specific needs during the leave and what job responsibilities will need to be managed and delegated during their absence. Examine how the employee’s absence will affect the rest of the team and their workflows.
Make a plan for training workers who will fill in for the employee going on leave, whether those workers are existing employees or temporarily hired from the outside. This process can include reviewing documentation, creating job aids, and job shadowing. Recognize that the workers filling in might require additional support both before and during parental leave.
Finally, ensure that the departing employee’s work is documented and organized. This will help with the transition and minimize disruptions to the workflow.
Use Technology to Support New Parents
HR professionals can leverage technology, such as workflow management software, to automate and standardize the parental leave process from the initial leave request through the employee’s return to work.
Workflow management software allows HR professionals to create customized workflows for parental leave, ensuring that all necessary steps and approvals are followed. This eliminates the need for manual tracking, reducing the likelihood of errors or oversights. HR professionals can set up automated notifications and reminders to keep employees and managers informed about upcoming leave, return-to-work dates, and required documentation.
HR software can provide a centralized employee experience platform for employees to submit leave requests, access relevant policies and forms, and communicate with HR. This improves transparency and accessibility helps employees navigate the leave process and reduces stress and dissatisfaction.
Evaluate and Update Leave Policies Periodically
Parental leave policies should be evaluated and updated periodically to ensure they’re still effective and in compliance
Feedback is a powerful component of auditing your leave policies. Start with feedback from employees who have taken parental leave and experienced these policies firsthand. Analyze the impact on their overall job satisfaction and productivity while looking for ways to improve.
Additionally, look at evolving best practices in parental leave to ensure your organization is keeping up with what’s been proven to work in the field.