How to manage parental leave in your team
In the beauty industry, there are many more females than men – so at some point you will find that someone in your team needs to take parental leave. How does it work? What do you need to do and how can you build the right environment so they want to come back? Here are my tips!
The Parental Leave Act
The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 ensures that companies allow unpaid leave from work for birth mothers, their partners/spouses and adoptive parents on either the birth of a child or the adoption of a child under 6 years old.
To be eligible a parent must have worked for an average of 10 hours each week, including at least 1 hour a week or 40 hours per month, for the same employer for 6 months before the expected date of birth or adoption (for maternity leave) and 12 months for extended leave.
There are 4 types of leave (all of which are unpaid):
- Special Leave (10 days for the mother)
- Maternity Leave (14 weeks for mother)
- Paternity Leave (1 or 2 weeks for the father/partner – depending if they have worked for 6 months or 12 months)
- Extended Leave (up to 52 weeks including other maternity or paternity leave)
Your employee will need to go to the IRD website (www.ird.govt.nz), print out the form to apply for the Paid Parental Leave scheme and fill in the details about themselves. They will then give the form to you JUST to fill in the details about their salary. The form then goes to IRD.
What do you have to do?
When your employee first tells you about being pregnant, do remember to congratulate them – even if you’re already worrying how to cover their role! You can then talk through the key points of the Parental Leave Act with them, so you both know what needs to happen.
Your employee must apply for either maternity, paternity or extended leave at least 3 months before the due date (or adoption date) and attach a medical certificate with their application.
You then have to respond and say whether you can hold the role open or not and what the final dates of parental leave is. For maternity leave (14 weeks leave) you HAVE TO hold an employee’s role open.
For an application for extended parental leave of up to 52 weeks you have to hold the role open unless it will cause you significant difficulties (I recommend you check the Parental Leave Act to see if your situation applies, or get advice from HR or a lawyer if you are going to use this provision). You will need to advise the employee that the leave is not approved and they will need to either resign, or go on leave and you could see if you can find a job for them when they return (but with no guaranteed role).
Discuss with them if they want their annual leave paid out at the start of their maternity leave. While they are an employee while they are away, their annual leave accrues at zero so is worth less when they return to work (and during their first year back). If you do pay out annual leave, the employee’s parental date will move forward to after the annual leave.
Employing someone to cover their role
Before your employee goes on leave, you will probably need to find someone to cover their role or there may be someone else in your company or team who can cover the role.
It’s really important that you employ the person covering the role on a fixed term basis and not a permanent basis. If you employ someone else to fill the role permanently and then your employee returns from parental leave, both are entitled to the job and you’re going to have a problem.
A fixed term employment agreement clearly states the reason why the fixed term is starting (to cover an employee who is going on parental leave) and why the fixed term is ending (the fixed term will finish on xxx date, when the employee is due back at work). Make sure you also have a clause that says if the employee needs to return to work earlier than planned, then the fixed term will be terminated at this date. If you don’t have this clause and your permanent employee comes back earlier, you may have to pay the rest of the fixed term out.
While they are away
Keep in touch with them – perhaps email through any newsletter you are sending out and invite them in if you are having a morning tea or team meeting.
Returning to work
Your employee needs to advise you in writing (email is fine) 21 days before they are due back at work about whether they are coming back or not. If they want to come back early (which they can only do as a right if the baby is miscarried or the adoption falls through) then they need to advise you in writing 21 days before.
They can ask to come back early without any reason but you are not legally required to agree to them coming back. If an employee only takes 3 or 6 months and then decides they want to extend their leave up to 52 weeks, you will need to consider if you can approve this. You don’t legally have to.
Also consider whether they can come back part time. It’s a shock to the system for someone to have a year off then return full time. Under the flexible working act they can request flexible hours, but if you want to build a good culture in your business, I’d recommend talking about this earlier on.
The article was supplied by Angela Atkins from Elephant Training & HR.
|Angela Atkins is the co-founder and GM of Elephant Training and HR. Elephant provide HR advice to SME’s and run management and HR training. Angela has worked in HR and training roles for the last 17 years with a variety of industries. Angela is also the author of two best-selling books Management Bites and Employment Bites.
For more contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about Elephant visit www.elephanthr.co.nz