Best Practices

Best practices for managing parental leave

Create a parental leave work plan. Outline the staff member’s responsibilities prior to parental leave; assignments to be completed by others, and how the staff member on leave will communicate and contribute to workflow.

Acknowledge impact on colleagues. Staff may raise concerns about additional workload during a colleague’s leave. Keep communication open and adjust the plan. Recognize staff who go “above and beyond” with a bonus, comp time, and/or formal acknowledgement in the performance review.

Cross train.  Parental leave is an opportunity to build staff capacity. Cross training improves team performance overall and bridges the gaps during any one staff member’s absence.

Consider flexible return options. Invite parents to make a gradual return. Some organizations allow parents to stretch 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave over 12 months rather than over a single 3-month period. This ensures smoother transitions and minimizes work falling through the cracks.

Offer a “pumping room.” Organizations with 50 or more employees are required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” Smaller organizations can do the same.

Provide back-up childcare. Some organizations offer emergency childcare on site or nearby with a professional childcare company. This benefit is intended for unusual events; for example, if the primary child care provider is unavailable, or if the child is sick and unable to attend normal childcare.