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Better parental leave ‘boosts’ productivity, Ombudsman says

Employers that offer accommodating parental leave policies enjoy better employee productivity, according to Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson.

Wilson says that employers who take care to incorporate staff needs and interests into parental leave policies can benefit substantially from more dedicated and productive employees.

“Employers with parental leave policies that make employees feel valued can benefit from having more committed and productive staff,” said Wilson in a statement. “They will also improve staff retention, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs.

“Best practice employers go beyond their minimum legal obligations and develop parental leave policies that are tailored to their employees’ specific needs, while also being mutually beneficial to their business,” he continued.

This assertion accompanies the publication of the Parental Leave Best Practice Guide by the Ombudsman, created to help businesses develop leave policies that yield the best outcomes for employers and employees alike.

A number of suggestions for improving the parental leave policy are covered in the guide, including the practices of continuing superannuation contributions during unpaid leave, offering paid leave at half-pay and implementing return-to-work bonuses.

The guide suggests business owners stay in contact with employees whilst on leave as this can help to keep them engaged with the business. It also offers the advice that policies should outline support strategies to ease the transition back to work and recommends employers begin discussions about a return to work early on, consider requests for flexible working arrangements, and allow employees to use annual leave in single or part days upon their return.

“Good communication arrangements can help an employee on leave feel attached to the workplace, their career, and their colleagues,” said Wilson.

“Employers should consult with employees when developing parental leave policies to ensure they understand their employees’ needs and ideas,” he continued. “Educating workplace participants and encouraging best practice is a key part of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s role as we strive to create harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces.”

The guide can be downloaded free of charge from the Fair Work Ombudsman site.

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