When working through your return to work plan, it’s really easy to get yourself into the situation where your role isn’t 100 per cent clear anymore. Often when you are in the middle of looking to change your role and introduce a more flexible working arrangement, your role can become unclear.
“When I left to go on parental leave, I had a full-time role which my replacement filled while I was away for 12 months. Now coming back, I only want to work three days a week, so my company has created a new role for me,” says one Circle In contributor.
“The problem is that this new role isn’t very well defined and five weeks into my return, I’m still trying to figure it out. This lack of clarity is making it really hard for me to feel settled and I’m really struggling with the work—family juggle. I really wished I’d sorted it out before my return.”
This experience is all too familiar for so many women returning to work. So what can you do about it? We have some practical tips on how to tackle this common problem:
Know your rights: according to Fair Work, when returning to work from unpaid parental leave, you are entitled to come back to the job you had before going on leave, even if another person is working in your role as a replacement. If you are returning to work after taking parental leave, you have the right to request flexible working arrangements, including working part-time instead of full-time and changing starting and finishing times of work or working from home. All requests for flexible working arrangements should be in writing and then your employer has 21 days to formally respond to your request. You can also find our ‘Employee request for flexible working arrangements’ here.
Raise it early: if your return to work role is unclear or raises concerns for you, then it’s best to discuss these as soon as possible with your manager or your HR department. It’s much better to discuss and resolve these issues before you go back to work, rather than wait until you are actually back at work.
Get it in writing: asking for things in writing can also help you gain clarity on your role and whether the work load is going to be achievable in the time you are at work. For example, you may want to request a position description and your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your new role. Any issues or areas that aren’t clearly defined, you can then raise them with your manager or HR department before returning.
Requesting flexible working arrangements can be daunting. If at any time you need more information or assistance, call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit the Fair Work Ombudsman site.
Written by the team at Circle In