Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stop the 'brain drain' and prepare employees for parental leave - what parents want and employers are offering

Stop the 'brain drain' and prepare employees for parental leave - recent survey reports parents want to work!

A new survey shows parents would rather return to the workplace sooner than take 24 months parental leave.

CareerMums recently conducted a survey on workplace challenges confronting working parents. The survey attracted 335 respondents and covered topics such as recently introduced employment law, key barriers to returning to work and childcare.

When asked if they would prefer to use the full 24 months of parental leave or return to work sooner, 46% of parents said they would prefer to return to work earlier and access flexible work arrangements. However the key barriers that parents continue to face when considering a return to work are limited access to flexible roles (72%), the excessive cost of childcare (68%), and a limited number of childcare places (35%), reports the CareerMums survey. Survey results.

Early preparation is a vital aspect of retaining parents as employees. Historically, employers have focused their attention on providing employee benefits such as financial incentives, however, these benefits are often not provided until after the parental leave has commenced or once parents have already returned to work.

mums@work works with a number of employers who are taking a more progressive approach to staff retention. These employers are discussing flexible work strategies before the parent takes leave. Preparing your staff for parental leave checklist.

During the parental leave absence, these employers are also working hard to help the employee stay connected to the organisation, making returning to work a smoother transition for both employee and manager.

Belinda Abbott, Diversity Consultant at Westpac, recognises the importance of early preparation in retaining valuable staff; “ Westpac has launched a whole new series of parental support toolkits and training seminars aimed at helping expectant parents plan for leave and for those who have returned to work to feel more supported on an ongoing basis. Westpac also has a number of flexible work practices, including part-time and job-share, available to all employees. We also recently announced we would be Australia's first major corporation to pay superannuation on unpaid parental leave for all permanent employees. This is an industry-leading initiative that will help us reverse the Australia-wide retirement savings gap experienced by employees, particularly those who take unpaid parental leave"

Organisations such as Mallesons Stephen Jaques are also developing parent forums focussed specifically on helping employees who are returning from parental leave manage their 'new' life as working parents and ensuring they have access to the additional ongoing support that is available to enable work life balance.

If you would like to discuss how your business can maximise staff retention, call Emma Walsh, Director of mums@work on 02 9967 8377.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A mum's return to work story to inspire others

Here's a wonderful story from a mum we recently supported back to work that provides inspiration to other mums who are thinking of taking the plunge...

Aleksha's story
I cannot tell you how nervous I was when I had my first phone interview with the CIO for my new job that I recently started. After the interview, I felt that I could have said so much more and so many things better but I kept everything crossed and prayed that I had got the job. Later that evening I heard from mums@work that I was successful and had to start later that week. Panic struck again...was I ready???

I arrived at 8am and met the CIO who seemed really nice. She took me around the various floors and introduced me to so many people.
When I finally sat at my desk, I kept thinking...am I Ready, will I be okay?

But I was surprised how the day rolled on. I must admit in the first week, there were times I would think I used to know this and at other times, things came back to me in a flash. In the last two and a half weeks, I have gone through this cycle a few times now.

I am really enjoying being back at work and I don’t seem to mind the early starts (5.00 am) to get things organised at home and then start work at 7.30am before finishing at 2.00pm to pick my girls up on time from school.

It’s amazing how the family has adapted to the change, it's so seamless. Life is busier and things have to be even more organised. (I swear I thought it was already organised but obviously there was room for improvement).

To all the fantastic mums who are thinking of returning back to work.....Go for it. You can do it !!!

You will truly surprise yourself. After the 100 million things we juggle with children and the endless lists of things to remember, working is not too hard even after a break. And the fact that the brain cells are being used for other things does so much good for you as a person.

And a little secret.....No one except you knows how nervous you are...so let it be a MUM secret. And may the forces unite as there is nothing a Mum cannot accomplish.

I hope my story inspires other working mums.

Do recruiters help or hinder mums career options and choices?

The Sunday Telegraph's article published last weekend Maternity leave will kill your career, recruitment companies warn women"is a yet again a sobering reminder that working mums and mums-to-be still battle overt discrimination not just from potential employers, but now it seems, sadly from recruitment agencies too. The Sunday Telegraph's article reports that "Head- hunting companies say women should forgo maternity leave if they want their careers to flourish".

Let's do some myth busting:
Fact: Working mums are just as 'intellectually capable' as any other employee
Fact: Working mums are resourceful, productive and multi-talented
Fact: There have been more part time roles created in the Australian marketplace in the last 2 years than full time roles
Fact: There are more mums returning to work than ever before and the Australian economy needs them
Fact: The new 'right to request' flexible work arrangements requires employers to think differently about accommodating return to work mums and dads

Recruiters are often in a unique position of influence and power when it comes to facilitating and negotiating career discussions between candidates and employers. It begs the question, just what are recruiters doing or not doing when representing working mums for new job opportunities? Are they in fact reinforcing or condoning blatant career discrimination against mums who are looking for, dare I say it, some type of work life balance?
Surely the best fit, most suitable candidate (irrespective of their parent status) should rightfully be represented and selected for the job?

Give us your thoughts; are recruiters helping or hindering your job search?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Will the Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme replace employer funded schemes?

Does your organisation have a plan to review its approach to paid parental leave (PPL) once the Government's national scheme comes into effective January 2011? Better think twice.

It appears that the current proposed PPL scheme which won the support of the Senate pre Election omitted any mention of an employer's ability to use the Government's PPL scheme to offset their own existing PPL scheme. But this doesn't mean employers are simply off the hook if they have inbedded PPL entitlements into their standard offering to employees either through negotiated Enterprise Bargaining Agreements or via their internal HR policies.

Don't assume the Government's paid parental leave scheme will offset your organisation's own scheme reports HR Daily. "Employers won't necessarily be able to offset their existing paid parental leave programs with the government's new scheme", says workplace relations lawyer Mick Moy. See Article.

Want to know more about your Paid Parental Leave options and obligations for your organisation, contact mums@work on info@mumsatwork.com.au or go to www.mumsatwork.com.au.