We talk a lot about Keeping In Touch days at Circle In. Used well, these days can be so valuable in improving your confidence in returning to work. Keeping in Touch days are an incredible benefit but strangely, most women we speak to aren’t aware they even exist.
So what are Keeping in Touch days? When you are on unpaid parental leave, they allow you to go back to work for up to 10 days and be paid by your employer (at your normal rate of pay). It’s a great way to stay connected with your workplace, refresh your skills and give you confidence in your transition back to work.
Jane shares her personal experiences across three lots of maternity leave. Her story highlights the difference that can be made by Keeping in Touch days – and by a knowledgeable and supportive HR manager.
This is Jane’s story:
“On maternity leave with my first baby I didn’t know about Keeping in Touch days. I just knew I was able to return to work part-time. I went back to work when my baby was 7 months old but to a position with considerably less responsibility. It was a big demotion.
During my second pregnancy, the business was restructuring. I was not ‘allowed’ back into my substantive position although it was not changing in any way. I had to fight to claim my position and to ensure my substantive role would be held. This I did by going full time for the last 10 weeks before I went on maternity leave. At the time our HR manager knew nothing and did not research anything to do with maternity leave but just did as the CEO pleased. You had to go along with it or resign. Thankfully, this CEO has since retired!
I returned from my second maternity leave to a new CEO and a new, female HR manager who knows the law inside out. I returned to work when bub number 2 was 6 months old understanding my rights, and having used my Keeping In Touch days. The new HR manager made a point of me knowing all the information I needed for a smooth transition back into work. I returned feeling like I had a brain and it would be of use to the organisation.
On maternity leave number 3, I have been keeping in touch with the organisation all the time. I have just started negotiations to return to work and how I will use my keeping in touch days.
The organisation has evolved dramatically over the last 4 years, largely because of a strong HR manager and a CEO who puts family first. I urge women to understand the maternity leave beast. Going back this time feels like I am walking into an environment that is at last supportive of working mothers”.
For more information on Keeping In Touch days, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.