top of page

Parental leave is a critical time for your employees as they embark on the journey of welcoming a new addition to their family. It is essential therefore that you and your business create inclusive environments that support all individuals, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, in their decision to take parental leave. By offering comprehensive support and implementing inclusive policies, you can not only foster a positive work culture but also promote employee well-being and retention.

Parental leave, including shared parental leave, adoption leave, maternity & paternity leave is something that, as a business owner or manager, you need to be fully aware of.

It's worth noting that shared parental leave, which came into force in 2014/2015, has been increasingly discussed recently. Personnel Today’s definition explains that “Shared parental leave and pay allows eligible women to curtail their right to maternity leave to enable their partner to take shared parental leave. Eligible parents can share 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks’ pay. Similar rules apply for adoptive parents.”

Here are my top tips to help you get prepared, so that when your employee requests parental leave, you know exactly what to do:

1. Preparing for Parental Leave

It is essential your business plays a crucial part in supporting your employees before they go on parental leave. It’s all in the planning. There’s a lot you can do now, even if you don’t currently have anyone planning parental leave.

a) Have a clear policy, and include it in your employee handbook

b) Create a package of resources for your employees – this could include details of independent organisations or charities who could help them, including what resources your business has available to them

c) Plan as early as possible; this ensures your business has a continuity plan in place. For example what effect will your employee being off have on your business? Will you need to get a temporary member of staff in, or do current employees have the capacity to take on some or all the roles?

Ultimately, by being prepared, this means you get a smooth transition. Don’t just think about the lead up and time during which your employee is off. You need a plan for when they come back, which I talk more about below.

2. Effective communication

Keeping the communication channels open during parental leave is crucial for employees to stay connected with their teams and remain informed about work developments. You can support this by establishing clear communication channels and designating a point of contact for any queries or updates. Regular check-ins, newsletters, and access to virtual platforms can help your employees feel connected and reduce any feelings of isolation. But don’t over do the communication, as they will also be coming to terms with changes in their personal lives. Ask the employee before they take the leave how they would prefer to stay in touch during their time off.

3. Facilitating the return to work

The return to work can be challenging for individuals after parental leave. To facilitate a smooth transition you could offer flexible work arrangements, such as part-time or remote options. Providing discrete designated spaces for breastfeeding or pumping milk, also demonstrates a commitment to supporting your employees' needs. Implementing workshops or mentoring programs for returning parents can help in addressing concerns and building confidence.

4. Inclusivity and diversity

It is essential for you to recognise and support the diverse needs of your employees, which includes same-sex couples, and individuals on adoption leave. Ensuring your policies acknowledge, and accommodate these situations helps foster an inclusive work environment. Emphasising inclusivity not only benefits your employees but also positively impacts on your reputation and ability to attract and retain top talent.

5. Retention and benefits

Supporting your employees during parental leave, and their return to work has proven benefits for both employees and employers. Studies have shown that companies with comprehensive parental leave policies experience higher employee satisfaction, increased loyalty, and reduced turnover rates. Investing in a supportive work environment not only promotes a positive corporate culture but also strengthens the overall performance and productivity of your business.

In the Fertility Family’s 2022 Parental Leave Study:

  • 3 in 5 (57%) employees think their company's maternity/paternity leave policy and attitude to new parents is inadequate

  • 1 in 10 employees (9%) felt that management restricted their career progression after they took parental leave — this was experienced equally by both men and women

  • 1 in 6 felt that management reduced their career opportunities after communicating that they planned to take parental leave

  • In employees who thought their career opportunities were reduced, 66% felt their opportunities were restricted prior to taking parental leave, rather than afterwards — potentially missing out on a promotion, project lead or business trips, or being overlooked for open positions.

It’s great for recruitment too! Actively promoting that you have a parental leave policy and structure in place is something that looks great in your recruitment adverts. You are showing your potential star employees that you care about them, and so, if they come to work for you, they will hopefully care about you too.

Research carried out by Vodaphone discovered that:

  • More than a third (37%) of all people surveyed, and more than half (55%) of 18–34-year-olds, would be more likely to apply for a job if they knew the employer had good parental leave policies.

  • More than one-in-10 of all people surveyed (12%), and one-in-four 18–34-year-olds (25%), have decided not to apply for a job because they thought the employer’s parental leave policies were inadequate.

  • More than half (52%) of all people surveyed, and two-thirds (64%) of those aged 18-34, agree that parental leave policies were a useful indication of whether an organisation is a good employer, even if they are not planning to have a baby themselves.

  • Around one-in-10 people (9%) have turned down a job offer because they thought the employer’s parental leave policies were inadequate. This doubles to more than one-in-five (21%) 18–34-year-olds whether an organisation is a good employer, even if they are not planning to have a baby themselves.

You and your business have a significant role to play in supporting individuals during parental leave, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation. By implementing inclusive policies, fostering effective communication, and providing appropriate resources, you can create a supportive environment for all your employees.

Supporting individuals during this critical phase of their lives not only promotes employee well-being but also contributes to higher retention rates and a positive workplace culture. It is through such efforts that you can demonstrate your commitment to your employees' holistic growth, and establish yourself as employers of choice.

Remember: creating an inclusive workplace is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and improvement. By having policies and support for parental leave in place, you can make a lasting impact on your employees' lives and set a positive example for others to follow.

It’s very tempting to avoid giving honest feedback at work as it can be daunting and feel uncomfortable, but the results are well worth it!

Good quality feedback is essential for people to achieve their best. Without it, it’s hard for people to know how to grow and develop. When feedback is delivered well, it is empowering, motivating and engaging for an employee, all of which can only benefit your business performance!

Here’s some top tips to help you deliver effective feedback:

1. Preparation is key

Think about why you are giving the feedback and what you want to get out of it to ensure that the feedback is delivered in a balanced way. Also, choose your time well, ensuring you are in a confidential space and that you have enough time to have a full conversation.

2. Be specific and focus on facts

Provide examples of the behaviours or actions that you are addressing. Describe the behaviour you saw, not the reason that you assume might be behind the behaviour. This helps to keep the feedback constructive and helps the team member feel it is objective, not personal.

3. Define the impact

The team member could be completely unaware of the impact of their actions as it’s very rare that someone does something ‘wrong’ or behaves irrationally on purpose so be clear on what the repercussions or consequences were.

4. Choose your words carefully

Use ‘I’ rather than ‘you’. This helps to avoid a feeling of blame and your team member can focus on the feedback. Good examples to use are “I observed that…” or “I noticed that…”.

5. Have a two-way conversation

Invite the team member to give their thoughts on what happened, once you have delivered the feedback. They may not have realised what the impact of their behaviour was, there may be something specific that is impacting their behaviour, perhaps the team dynamics, or something in their personal life. Give them the space to tell you if they need support.

6. Be timely

Give the feedback as soon as possible after the behaviour or action has happened, within 24 hours or so, where possible. This will mean the feedback feels relevant and allows the person to ask questions and give their view as they will be able to recall it. Additionally, if it’s an ongoing or recurring issue, it’s likely to be much worse if it’s not nipped in the bud quickly.

7. Focus on the future

Whilst you may be giving feedback on something that has already happened, ensure the conversation focuses on what needs to be changed (or if it’s positive feedback, what does the team member need to do more of) for the future.

8. Positivity

Whilst the above tips have focussed more on delivering negative feedback don’t forget to give positive feedback from time to time. We often assume that the person knows they’re doing a good job but this isn't always the case and they don't realise. By making the time to explain their positive behaviours and actions, the team member will know what they need to do more of to improve even further and deliver high performance for your business.

Sometimes, despite delivering feedback well, you may not be seeing the performance levels you need from your team member. Ensure that you have documented any informal feedback you have given and if this is the case, you may need to start a more formal performance management procedure.

If you have an underperforming employee and you need some advice or want to find out more about how Freedom HR Consulting can support your business with managing performance please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Book a free discovery call

Updated: Mar 20

Taking on your first employee is exciting, but it can also be daunting as it’s all new to you. Following my 6 steps below, will help you to gain clarity, and focus on what you need to do, to make taking on your first employee go smoothly.

1. What do you need before you advertise? First things first. You need to know what your employee will do for your business. Therefore it’s essential you create a clear job description. The questions you need to be asking yourself at this point on top of what they will be doing is; are they full or part-time, permanent or fixed-term contract, are they working from home, at your premises or a bit of both, and perhaps they are travelling to different locations. As a new employer, before you move forwards to the next step of advertising, you need to have it clear in your mind what you are willing to pay. You must legally pay at least the National Living Wage (or the National Minimum Wage if they’re under 23). It’s also essential to think about what else you are planning to offer on top, eg holiday days, benefits and bonuses. There are various resources on sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor to help you get an idea of typical salaries for your industry and your vacancy.

2. Where are you going to advertise? There are various places you can advertise your vacancy, and of course some are free, for example social media, and your LinkedIn, with others being much more costly. It’s therefore useful to set an advertising budget for your recruitment from the start. You could go to a recruitment company, advertise at the Job Centre, on websites such as Indeed, or enlist the help of an HR Consultant who has many years of experience in knowing the right places to advertise, to get you the best person for the job.

3. Choosing the right person for the job This is crucial. If you are overseeing the recruitment process yourself, I can’t emphasis enough that you need to plan, plan and plan again. From choosing your shortlist of candidates, to ensuring that those being interviewed have at least the right skills and experience needed for your role, planning your interview questions, to ensuring you leave plenty of time for the candidate to ask questions. Depending on the role, you may also want to prepare a written test or task for them to undertake.

4. What policies and documentation will you need to have in place? You need to ensure that every employee has a written statement of employment (a contract of employment) in place on or before their first day. There are other policies that you will need to have in place before they start, and the minimum needed by you is a disciplinary and grievance policy. Once you have 5 employees you will also need a health and safety policy. Depending on your type of business, you may want to have other policies in place, including sickness absence, those relating to inclusion, diversity and culture, and the use of social media at work.

5. The legalities of being an employer

From the interview phase, you need to make sure that your potential employee has the right to work in the UK and that checks are conducted in line with government rules. You will also need to take out Employers Liability insurance. Don’t forget to register with HMRC as an employer. You can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new employee. Make sure you check to see if you need to automatically enrol your employee into a workplace pension scheme.

6. When your employee starts This is when the journey of being an employer really begins. You have been used to doing everything yourself and now you have someone to share the workload with. But, at this stage, my one big piece of advice is getting your onboarding right. Clear your diary for the first few days. Make sure your new employee knows what is expected, show them your systems, introduce them to your clients and suppliers if applicable. Why not do an email or newsletter to your clients/suppliers introducing your new member of staff? By doing this you are really setting them up for success, and by knowing you, your systems and customers, it means that they will be able to get going and help you much quicker.

Of course if you would like help and advice with any of the above, please get in touch!

Book a free discovery call with me.

bottom of page