Parental leave policy; do you know what your organisation’s is? It’s a giant dilemma: you find out you’re pregnant and spend the first few weeks excitedly booking appointments, getting scans and buying all the books. And then it hits. How to you find out what your work entitlements are without giving away your secret?
This is what you’ll want and need to know: what you’re entitled to, whether you get paid parental leave from your organisation, what benefits they offer, and whether you get paid leave for appointments. The list goes on. Your head will be spinning with questions and more often than not, most women don’t even know their organisation’s general policies.
So how do you find out without giving the game away? It’s not easy, but here’s our top tips to help in your search to learn more:
- Start searching your organisation’s portal or intranet. You need to do this discreetly, especially if you work in an open plan office. Try and get in early one morning or stay late so you can spend some time searching without colleagues around you. There are a few places you can start:
- The Enterprise Agreement: This is an agreement negotiated between the employer and their employees setting out the terms and conditions of employment. You should find information in this document about what employees are entitled to from a parental leave perspective.
- The HR/ People section on your company intranet. Often this area is filled with recruitment, jobs, leadership programs etc, which often makes finding specific policies tricky. Keep searching as you should be able to locate some information here. Organisations leading the way will often have a dedicated parental leave section, which details policies, templates and a checklist relevant to your organisation. Unfortunately, few do this which is why we have developed Circle In, to help you take control of the process.
- Speak with trusted colleagues. Is there someone you trust that has been through the journey and could perhaps send you some information? Meet them for a coffee. You can even ask in a roundabout way about what benefits they received: “Oh, you took 12 months. Does our organisation offer paid parental leave?”
- Reach out to your Diversity team (if you have one.) Obviously, they have an interest in supporting women so if you don’t know/like/trust your HR partner, you could find someone in your Diversity team to talk to.
- Speak directly with your HR department. If all else fails and you still have nowhere to turn, then you should call your HR department and ask for the policy and request to remain confidential. HR departments are there to help you, and so should be able and willing to send you the policy.
There is no denying that the first 12 weeks is a really tricky time. It is when you most want to chat with others, yet need to maintain confidentiality. Use this time to research and find out what you can. You will be surprised at how sneaky you can be!
Oh and a further tip … don’t print the policy and leave it on the printer!