Returning to work post-baby
Having a baby can be an exciting – and demanding – time for parents. The last thing they want to worry about is trying to negotiate suitable return to work arrangements with an employer! However, despite the desire of many first-time parents to plan ahead and confirm arrangements before they go on parental leave, it is usually better not to try to lock in definite return to work arrangements until after the baby is born. This is because there are often unforeseen events that might occur and make the best of plans fall through.
Negotiating suitable return to work arrangements for employees who have had a baby is something many business owners and managers will have to face. As an employer you have a responsibility to make all reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate a pregnancy and the worker's subsequent return.
Accommodating Pregnant Employees
If an employee is finding it difficult to perform their required tasks, or if there is a threat to the pregnancy as a result of a particular role, then as an employer you need to discuss any issues or problems with the employee and find a suitable solution. For instance, this may involve a temporary move into another role if the original position is proving too difficult.
Accommodating the Employee's Needs Post-Baby
Generally speaking, an employee is entitled to return to the position she held prior to commencing leave, or to a comparable position if her original job has ceased to exist. Employers should note however that employees with children under school age – or a child under 18 who has a disability – have the right to request flexible working arrangements. This includes parents returning to work after taking parental leave, and such arrangements may include returning to work on a part-time basis.
If an employee is seeking such an arrangement, they need to make the request in writing. Employers are then obliged to respond in writing within 21 days and can only refuse the request on reasonable business grounds.
It is important that employees with flexible working arrangements are treated the same as other employees. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy and various other reasons.
The experienced lawyers in the Coleman Greig Employment Law Team can help you negotiate return to work arrangements for your employees or provide advice on your obligations as an employer. Simply call us on 02 9895 9296 - we’re here to help.