Returning mums offered on-site childcare

by 29 Feb 2012

A Melbourne company has proven just how far it is willing to go when it comes to retaining returning parents in their workforce – it built its own $5m on-site childcare centre.

Keeping women on staff after they return from having children can be a challenge – childcare costs can be as high as $135 per day. When medical supplies company CSL found their retention rates for returning parents were less than 50%, it took drastic action and decided to build a childcare facility on its own premises. “We invest in them when they work for us, and we want to have the benefit of their training and education. We don't want to have the disruption to the traditional female career that often happens. So this is our way of I think trying to address that,” Brian McNamee from CSL said.

While $5m is a hefty investment, and most HR teams won’t have the option of building a child-care centre as some universities, law firms and schools have been able to do, there are other strategies HR can leverage to drive better retention rates among returning mothers.

Law firm Freehills put together a checklist on navigating parental leave, and from the time the parental leave notice is received employers may:

  • Check employees eligibility for leave against the company’s parental leave policy and flexible work policy (if any). Will the employee have been continuously employed with the company for 12 months prior to the birth of the child in either a full-time, part-time, or long-term-casual role?

  • Meet with the pregnant employee and discuss their leave plans. Make sure the employee is aware of formal notice requirements.

  • Check if the employee wants to keep the pregnancy confidential or is happy for it to be more generally known.

  • Discuss and make any work adjustments needed to ensure health and safety during pregnancy.

  • Complete a performance review of the employee before they take parental leave, to assist with salary reviews during the leave and avoid discrimination risks.

  • Ten weeks before leave, check the employee has provided written notice of her intention to start parental leave, including start and end dates.

  • Four weeks before leave, check the employee has confirmed the intended dates in writing.

  • Arrange a time to meet with the employee to plan the upcoming leave and to discuss how you’ll stay in touch.

  • Notify any replacement employee that their employment is temporary and that the pregnant employee has the right to return to their position.

  • Maintain contact with the employee, as agreed, for the duration of the leave.

  • At least four weeks before the employee’s return to work, check in with the employee about their plans to return to work.

  • Ensure you get in contact with the employee if there are any significant changes to the business or the employee’s job eg a restructure or redundancy.

  • If the employee makes a request for extended leave, respond in writing within 21 days.

  • Provide the employee with their pre-parental leave role on return from parental leave, or if that position is no longer exists, an available position for which they are qualified and suited.

  • Consider what assistance or facilities you can provide to the employee to help them settle back into their work role after a period of extended leave eg. computer skills training, facilities to express milk etc.


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