What can employers do to achieve equality within parental leave policies?
1. Offer equal paid parental leave to both parents
Providing equal parental leave for mums and dads not only helps attract top talent, it pays dividends for an organisation and the economy as a whole.
2. Promote a culture that encourages dads taking parental leave
Offering paid parental leave isn't enough on its own. An equal parental leave policy is worthless if the practices, decision making and culture of the organisation do not encourage and support fathers actually taking parental leave.
3. Change the narrative for setting career expectations for dads
Taking parental leave will naturally impact the immediate career progression for parents in the same way as it would impact an employee taking half a year off to travel the world. Equal parental leave policies won't eliminate that impact but it does provide the parents with the choice of how to distribute the impact.
The organisations leading the way in the parental leave provide flexibility for how dads/parents can take leave, such as part time rather than all in one bulk if they choose. This approach is empowering families to choose for themselves the best way to provide care for their child and manage the career impacts in the way that is most suitable to them.
4. Develop flexible methods for taking parental leave
The government currently applies a one size fits all approach by not mandating paid parental leave and providing minimal paid assistance to fathers. Until this changes, employers are never going to be seen as progressive if that is what they benchmark against...look to the progressive organisations to set your policy because you can bet that's where your current and future employees will look.
5. Use industry leaders as the benchmark for change, not existing government standards
Parents re-entering the workforce face a significant challenge and cultural shock upon their return to work. Parental leave strategies can help with this readjustment to prepare parents for what to expect when they return. This may include options such as mentoring (by other parents), assistance in organising daycare (some organisations partner with day care facilities for priority placements) and even simple checklists for things a parent needs to organise before returning to work can aren't costly but can make the difference in whether you ultimately retain a staff member.