Five ways to support employees on parental leave

busy working table

Parental leave is evolving and so is the traditional childcare structure. The way that employers support employees going on parental leave should evolve too. Having a formal structure around how to support your employees ensures accountability. Here are five ways you can ensure a happy employee and a successful transition to and from parental leave.



Be excited for when an employee shares their baby news

When a colleague gives you the news they're pregnant, you should be happy for two reasons. First and foremost, this is wonderful news for your employee (they’re probably nervous telling you). Secondly, this is an opportunity to make your organisation stronger. When someone goes on temporary maternity leave, other team members get the chance to step in, upskill and broaden their experience. Your business benefits from knowledge sharing around the team; which is great for business continuity.

Provide the environment for your employee to continue to succeed 

Sometimes expectant mums benefit from flexible working arrangements. For example, the opportunity to work from home occasionally can be a godsend for someone who’s expecting. This is just one reason to embrace mobile technology and establish remote working policies.

Provide access to a support network

There’s no substitute for experience. If you look across your workplace, odds are you’ll see several people who have children and have previously been on maternity leave. As an employer, you can help by welcoming and encouraging people to share their experiences and tips with one another.

Continue their good work while they’re on leave

The transition from work to maternity leave can be nerve-wracking when an employee isn’t confident things will be looked after while they’re away. During the countdown before a colleague temporarily departs, allow time for a full and complete handover by planning early. All processes and plans should be stored in a central place where colleagues can refer to them in future.

While they’re away, you want to keep an open line of communication so they still feel a part of your team

Don’t be a stranger while they’re away

Prior to maternity leave, it’s important you agree some ground rules. While they’re away, you want to keep an open line of communication so they still feel a part of your team – but you don’t want them to feel like work is intruding on precious family time.

Have a conversation before they go on maternity leave and ask:

  • If a work-related query comes up, do you want to know?
  • If so, by what method?
  • Would you like to still receive invitations to work social events?
  • What is the best way to update you on major changes in the organisation (if any)?
  • What date should we speak to begin planning your return from maternity leave?

Clarifying these matters avoids ambiguity and ensures there are no surprises for you or your employee during the months ahead.


Hear from NZ Director, Shay Peters, about how organisations can support employees on paternity leave.