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Parental leave report generates employer action list – Crayon

Navigating the leave process in New Zealand can be unexpectedly challenging for parents and employers. While strides have been made, numerous parents still encounter challenges, significantly impacting their own experience and placing strain on employers.

The report Parental Leave: A Kiwi Perspective reveals the parental leave and return to work experiences of 369 Kiwi parents.

The report, a collaboration between Crayon and The Back to Work Coach, highlights what a challenging experience parental leave and returning to the workplace is for parents.

“Employees rate parental leave as the most challenging moment in the employee experience lifecycle,” says Rebekah Fraser, Founder of The Back to Work Coach.

“We see this play out daily in our combined professional journeys, and this prompted us to distill the insights from the parents we interviewed into a collection of high-impact actions.”

“This report serves as a guide for employers seeking to create a supportive environment and parents navigating the intricacies of parental leave,” says Stephanie Pow, Founder of Crayon and the New Zealand Parental Leave Register.

“While additional paid leave is highly valued, the good news is that even small actions with no or low cost, such as thoughtful planning, can significantly enhance the quality of this experience,” adds Pow.

Key findings from the report

1. Finances are the #1 challenge during parental leave

Respondents shared that their greatest challenge during parental leave came from the pressure on their family finances.

More than two-thirds of those going on leave or already on leave cited finances as one of their top three challenges and a key driver of an early return to work.

This is not surprising in the current economic climate with high living costs and rising mortgage rates.

2. The workplace is the #1 challenge when returning to work

While financial pressures diminished slightly upon returning to work, the workplace stepped into the number one spot for parents.

Respondents expressed a desire for greater flexibility and more consistency in the transition support process, such as a clear return-to-work plan.

3. Partners are frustrated by the lack of access to paid partner leave

Most partners took four weeks or less of parental leave, and they expressed concern not only about the lack of bonding time with their child but also about having to return to work while the other parent was still recovering.

They also experienced negative attitudes from their colleagues towards their decision to take parental leave.

4. Additional paid leave is the most valued benefit

Half of respondents expect more statutory entitlements.

Additional paid leave was the most valued benefit for primary carers and partners.

5. Better manager support has a significant impact on an employee’s parental leave experience

Documented handover, keeping-in-touch, and return-to-work plans set the parent up for a smooth transition, yet it’s so often overlooked.

It doesn’t require big budgets to provide best-practice parental leave support.

“Many respondents feel that it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Pow.

“The conversations and preparations that take place before a parent goes on leave are most powerful,” says Fraser.

“It also doesn’t have to all fall onto the manager,” Fraser adds.

“Peer support, mentoring networks and/or the opportunity for confidential transition/back-to-work coaching can take some of the load.”


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