Much can change in a matter of days, let alone months, in a workplace and the process of settling back into a role after maternity or parental leave can be made more difficult if there has been little or no communication between the two parties during the leave period.
Employees receiving Parental Leave Pay have the option, with your agreement, to keep in touch with the workplace before returning to their role.
Under the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009, they can access up to 10 Keeping in Touch days from the time they become their child’s primary carer until the end of their Paid Parental Leave period.
The purpose is to allow them to remain connected and, so, help them transition back into work without losing their entitlement to Parental Leave Pay. A win-win for both parties.
‘When an employee has been out of the salon environment for a long period of time, such as after a year’s maternity leave, they can find themselves seriously out of touch, potentially compromising themselves and their employer,’ says Kerri-Ann Allen, industrial relations advisor for Hair and Beauty Australia (HABA), the peak national not-for-profit industry association servicing members from hair and beauty salons, day spas and training colleges.
‘A Keeping in Touch day may be as simple as an employee participating in a paid work activity for one hour, or working a normal shift.
‘It will allow them to stay up to date and allow them to use their skills, become familiar with new or updated processes within the salon and also to be involved in discussions or meetings which may affect their role within the salon.
‘It is also an excellent way for them to maintain contact with clients over the months they are on leave.’
Keeping in Touch days may include performing any new on-the-job training that all staff are entitled to have, performing work to become familiar with the workplace again before returning to work, or simply participating in staff meetings.
Even though the employee is on unpaid parental leave, they are required to be paid for the day they are working at their normal wage.
Usual record keeping and notification requirements apply – for example, payroll records and pay slips.
However, it is crucial to remember that if an employee on paid Parental Leave participates in any other paid work for any purpose other than Keeping in Touch – for instance, covering for an absent staff member – they will be considered as having returned to work and Parental Leave Pay will stop.
Things that don’t count as ‘Keeping in Touch’ include participating in workplace social events, visiting colleagues or accessing emails while on a social visit to the workplace.