Returning to work after a maternity or parental leave, or an extended leave to raise their children, can be challenging for parents. Their job or organization may have shifted in unexpected ways, and they may not be provided with adequate support to reintegrate after their time away. Organizations that implement support systems for employees before, during and after their leave can help ensure the return to work is as smooth as possible. This is a win-win: satisfied employees that feel supported in their career development through parental leave are more likely to remain with the organization.
Here are a few resources you can share with clients to support them in preparing for a leave or returning to work after a maternity or parental leave.
This article was originally published in 2019 and was last updated in August 2021.
Certified Employment Strategist Natalie MacLellan explains how she helped a client return to work after a seven-year career break to care for her three children in this Careering magazine article. While the client thought she had just spent her time doing “Mom stuff” that wouldn’t be of interest to employers, as it turns out, she had plenty to put on her resume.
In this TED Talk, career re-entry expert Carol Fishman Cohen talks about her own experience returning to work after a career break, her work championing the success of “relaunchers” and how employers are changing how they engage with return-to-work talent.
Making It Work! How to Effectively Navigate Maternity Leave Career Transitions: An Employee’s Guide (CERIC) [Book]
This user-friendly book published by CERIC acts as a self-directed tool that allows people returning from maternity, parental or adoption leave to find and apply strategies that suit their specific career needs. It aims to empower readers to be active agents in their career development. An Employers’ Guide is also available.
Managing Transitions: Before, During and After Leave A Planning Resource Guide for Employees and Employers (Engineers Canada) [Guide]
While some of the information in this guide is geared toward engineers, much of the information is broadly applicable. It includes checklists for planning, taking and returning from maternity or parental leave for employees, supervisors and HR professionals, and designated leave liaisons and other colleagues. It also outlines promising practices.
Maternity-related reassignment and leave, maternity leave and parental leave (Government of Canada) [Guide]
This guide from the Government of Canada explains Canada Labour Code provisions as they relate to maternity and parental leave. It answers questions such as “Can an employee take both maternity and parental leave?” and “What happens to the employee’s job upon return from maternity leave or parental leave?”
Moms at Work [Advocacy group]
Moms At Work, run by career coach Allison Venditti, aims to support moms to create careers they love and advocates for action on issues such as maternity discrimination and pay transparency. Its resources include an active Facebook group with more than 5,000 members and a free newsletter that shares research, job postings, articles and learning opportunities.
In 2021, Moms at Work released the 2021 Maternity Leave Experience Report, which surveyed 1,090 Canadian women and found that 95% did not receive any formal support during their mat leave transition and 58% said their employer was not prepared for their return to work.
Stay-at-Home Parents and COVID-19: What to Explore Before Starting a Job Search (Career Convergence) [Article]
This article emphasizes the importance of addressing stay-at-home parents’ conflicting or changing priorities before embarking. It centres effective helping around four main factors: timing, strengths, work-life balance, and meaning and purpose.
This article offers advice to employers to ensure a smooth and support transition back to work, and to prevent feelings of disconnection and disengagement that many women experience during challenging maternity leave transitions. It includes tips on creating a culture of support prior to maternity leave, keeping in touch with the employee during their time off and introducing flexibility options upon return.
This article by Allison Venditti offers advice for career professionals on how to support clients transitioning out of mat leave. The tips include:
- Dedicating time to talking about clients’ shifting priorities
- Recognizing how emotions may be affecting career decisions
- Bringing in other supports through referrals
In this Careering magazine article, tellent founder Jennifer Hargreaves – whose venture helps professional women find flexible careers – shares her story of experiencing workplace discrimination while pregnant. She also explains how she underwent a career pivot, because “ambition does not wear off with the epidural.”
- Career breaks are the new norm – so why are they still stigmatised? (HRM)
- Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits (Government of Canada)
- For mothers in the workplace, a year (and counting) like no other (McKinsey)
- How my maternity leave has built me into a better engineer (CBC)
- How to re-enter the workforce after an absence (Executive Career Brand)
- How to Transition Back to Work from a Leave of Absence (Creative Cloud)
- It’s Time to Make Paternity Leave Work (MIT Sloan Management Review)
- Maternity Leave Isn’t Enough to Retain New Moms (Harvard Business Review)
- Men less likely than women to cite impact of parental leave on career (The Guardian)
- Supporting the mental health of single parents in career services (CareerWise)
- There is a playbook for return-to-work – ask moms and dads (The Canadian Business Journal)
- Why ‘stay-at-home parent’ is a job title (BBC)
- Women are leaving work and taking up the burden of care during pandemic, benefit data suggests (Financial Post)
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