Heading back to work after kids
All of these things can be true, so take the time to plan your triumphant return to the workforce.
Returning from Maternity Leave
If you are returning from maternity leave, Australian Sex Discrimination Legislation provides women the right to return to a position comparable to the role they held prior to starting leave. Some employers may try and alter either the financial terms of the role or the level of responsibility on your return. If you feel you are being treated unfairly and that either your pay or your position has changed – seek legal advice.
Australian women do not have the right to demand to return to work on a part time basis. If this is what you want, submit a proposal to your employer outlining your return to work plan, how the change will impact the company and what steps can be taken to minimise the negative impacts. Your employer may appreciate your efforts to provide them with a solution, not just a problem.
What alternatives are open to me?
If you are comfortable with the idea of full time work then your best option is to either return to work with your pre-baby employer or look for a role that utilises the experience and skill sets from your previous role. Other options to consider include:
- Part-time - Part time roles can often be the solution to a parent's work/life balance issues. They allow you to plan child care and budget effectively. These roles can be difficult to find because of the convenience and security they offer. The best places to find these roles is to either contact your previous employer, as discussed earlier, or keep a close eye on online job boards - see our jobs info hub for online job boards specialising in jobs suitable for parents.
- Casual - Casual employment has many of the characteristics of part time roles but lacks security (consistent income etc) and requires increased flexibility. The most appropriate strategy is to pick an area that appeals to you and develop a list of target companies. Write an up-to-date CV highlighting your relevant skills and contact companies directly. If you are unsure how to tailor your CV or the best strategies to use to contact these organisations, your local career counsellor can help.
- Job Sharing - This is when two people share the responsibilities of one job. This works well if you (or your organisation) have found another worker happy to share your role. Job share allows parents to work in fields that aren't normally conducive to part-time work. You need to be sure that you are comfortable sharing all the aspects of your role with someone else eg. wages, decision making, even desks. Job sharing arrangements are most easily arranged within an environment you have already been working in.
- Temping - If you are unsure about making a long term commitment – temping may be the answer for you. This employment solution requires the most flexibility on your part – you need to work at sometimes very short notice. This option works best for parents with a support network to help with child care and school pick ups. The best way to find temp work is through a reputable temp agency. Most temp work involves some clerical work so make sure you brush up your admin skills.
- Self Employment - At first glance, self employment offers many benefits to parents such as flexibility, independence and the ability to set your own hours. However, with this independence comes enormous responsibility. There is no boss to help if things go wrong, if the company doesn't get paid you don't get paid and you may end up losing precious personal assets to pay off debt. 9 out of 10 small business start ups fail and those that survive do so by sheer hard work. Professional small business survivors plan well, monitor progress and work hard and consistently towards their goals. This solution is not for everyone so before you go ahead, ask yourself the following:
- Do you have the space and cash to set up?
- Is the market for the product/service you want to provide already adequately covered in the marketplace?
- Do I have the family support to make this happen?
- Do I have the skills to make this a success?
- Can I handle rejection? In small business there are an awful lot of nos before you get a yes. Just because you believe in the product or service does not mean there is a market for it!
Your career specialist can give you further assistance in this area or review our articles on setting up businesses.
Skills Relevance and Update Options
There are so many facilities that can offer individuals re-entering the workplace the ability to update their skills. Universities, Colleges, Online learning are all medium to long term options to explore. Short term solutions might include free keyboard training offered by some employment agencies or Adult Education run classes in a variety of subjects aimed at those who have been out of the work force.
There is so much information available in this area. In order to make an informed and cost-effective decision, it is best to consult with a skilled career specialist.
What tools do I need?
Make sure when you commence your search for a new role you take the time to work on your job campaign. A well written CV is essential, as well as cover letters tailored to each position and well developed interview skills will give you the best chance of success.
In order to compete in the job market, it is advised that you get help in this area from a qualified career professional.
Child care considerations
In your enthusiasm to return to a fulfilling role in the workplace, don't forget about those little darlings that made you take time off work in the first place. Make sure have fully explored all options available and have contingency plans for the unexpected. Kids do get sick and need to be picked up immediately and it happens at the most inconvenient times.
If you are looking at working from home, think carefully before committing to working at home and caring for your children. Not only are parents in this situation unable to concentrate on their work but often the children suffer too.
In this competitive job market it is wise to get professional advice to make sure you are taking advantage of all the job search and career development opportunities available to you. A small investment in professional advice can reap real rewards in arranging a fulfilling return to the workforce.
Take the time to ask them a few questions to make sure that they offer the specialist services needed for your search.
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