Are adoptive parents eligible for parental leave? What about foster parents or kinship parents? We talk with Dr. Amy Beacom and Sue Campbell, with the Center for Parental Leave Leadership and co-authors of The Parental Leave Playbook.
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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family. I'm Dawn Davenport and I am both the host of this show as well as the director of CreatingaFamily.org. That is both a website, obviously, as well as a national nonprofit that is all about training and supporting adoptive, foster and kinship families. So hop on over there and get more information to help you along your way. Today, we're going to be talking about parental leave what you need to know before you adopt or foster, we will be talking with Dr. Amy Beacom. She is the founder and CEO of the Center for Parental Leave Leadership. And that is the first consultancy in the US to focus exclusively on parental leave, and the way our companies and our country engage with parental leave transition. We will be also be talking with Sue Campbell. She is a writer, author and coach who has worked with the Center for Parental Leave Leadership since its early days, she helps to communicate the transformative ways of their core mission. Alright, first of all, welcome Amy and Sue to Creating a Family. We're so glad to have you there today. This is a topic I don't know a whole lot about so I'm really looking forward to learning more. Thank you. Yes. Okay. So I want to start with what the laws and the rules are surrounding parental leave in the US, Amy, let me begin with you. Give us a ground kind of lay the groundwork for us of what we need to pay attention to when we're thinking about parental leave.
Yes, great question. So you need to pay attention on multiple levels. So with paid leave, we're assuming everyone will be working. So they're taking a leave from their work. There needs to be attention paid at the company level, the state level and possibly soon, the federal level. Right now, the United States is still the only country in the entire industrialized world that does not have a paid leave policy, which let's just pause a minute. By deeply honest, I mean, the most important thing is our children and keeping our parents at work. But anyway, okay, off the so no, I'm sorry. No, I appreciate you understanding the depth of that. It's really quite outrageous. And if I can make a quick plug it is, for the first time we are having a national paid leave law being discussed at the federal level. And so as part of the build back better infrastructure bill that is happening, there is a 12 week gender neutral all types of families paid leave law under consideration. If there's anything you do today, if you are someone who needs paid leave, and we're not just talking about paid leave, for parental leave, we're talking about paid leave to care for yourself or a sick loved one as well. Then please go to paid leave for all.org. And there is a forum there. And you can contact your your senators and Congress people and ask them to please back that bill. It is the only it has resounding bipartisan support 75% across the aisle support this part of the bill, but it's it's in the larger budget negotiations. So it may very well be cut down or cut out entirely if people don't reach out. So anyway, that was my soapbox for the day. Let me just say it again. Is it paid leave for all about org. It is yes. Wanted to say it again saying Yeah. Okay, good. All right. So that's just one thing you can do. And depending on where your listeners are coming from, they may live in a state that already has paid leave, or they may not. They're nine states plus DC that have paid leave laws on the books, the other states in our country don't. And that means we have a really incongruent experience across this country of leave in the US. So if you live in California, you may be having 12 weeks of leave, you may be covered for birth, foster adoption, surrogacy, you know, whatever, however, you become a family if there's a biological or legal relationship, you would be covered. The if you live in North Carolina, for example, you do not. And so that is complicated for the person meeting that lead but it's also complicated for our companies that especially are multistate employers, and especially now that we live in such a remote work world, again, it really really complicates things. So a national paid leave law would be important from a human standpoint, and from a more practical business standpoint as well. Before we move on talking about going off the state level and getting off the federal level, let me ask about I think everybody's heard about Family and Medical Leave Act FMLA how
Does that factor in that is a federal law? How does that factor into all of this? Yes, great question. So FMLA most people assume is for everyone and provides pay for the time they're away from work. It stands for the Family Medical Leave Act FMLA. It is not. So it's unpaid job protection for roughly 50% of the population in our country. So that means 50%, I think it's like 4654, somewhere in there are not covered, and will not have job protection nor pay. Gotcha. Okay. So there's two things about the act that you want us to know, it sounds like one, lots of people are not covered. And I know that the only one I know of, and there may be other reasons, you'd not be covered. If you work for an employer that does not have 50 or more employees, it's not applicable. Is that correct? That Yep, that is correct. There's also carve outs, even if your employer has more than 50. It's a very nuanced law. So so check with your company first, if you are covered under FMLA. And also, while you're doing that, check if you have any paid leaves. So that's it the the company level, we'll come back to the company level. But the other thing Yeah. And so I'm gonna bring you in here. The other thing that I heard about FMLA, is that it does its only job protection, it is not guaranteed pay. So what what does that mean? So explain what that means job protection. So that means that you can take time off and your job will be guaranteed for you to return to maybe not your exact same position, right, they could shuffle you around when you return, but you would have a job to come back to. But for many families across the US, taking that much time off unpaid is not economically feasible. So that's why we see an impact of people taking much shorter parental leaves than they would like, because they simply can't afford to take everything they're entitled to under Fela. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, absolutely. That you can't, and does femoral have a upper limit? I mean, what's the time period that you are allowed to take there that they are that employees that happen? Employers, I'm sorry, that happened to fall under phenoix? what period of time that they have to keep your job open are similar job open. It's 12 weeks now that can get a little squishy, given circumstances and math. So if you're hitting two criteria for a family, for example, if you are a birth parent, and you have a pregnancy related disability, it may end up being more like four and a half months total. So there are some stipulations. But in general, the rule of thumb is it's 12 weeks. Okay, gotcha. And that's another reason why a 12 week paid leave law is a benefit because it matches femora. And so if we're looking at having job protection for 12 weeks, but pay for six, that will continue to make people take six, not 12. And 12 really is the base of what is needed for parental leaves, it may be very different for a different type of leave. But for parental leave, we really recommend that 12 is the the floor, not the ceiling. Gotcha. Okay. So we've talked about the federal level and the federal level is, there is an act that has been introduced that needs support. So there's that. And on the federal level, we have the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is an unpaid a job protection, basically, law. So we've talked about that we've talked about at the state level, it's a mixed bag, only nine states have any form of paid leave. And it's kind of you know, you'll have to check on your own state, but don't hold your breath. Alright, so what do we have when we're looking at the company level? So I'm going to turn that question over to you. It's really a mixed bag. So if you're planning to start a family and you're job searching, at the same time, I suggest you pay very careful attention. There are some large employers who offer wonderful generous benefits, in addition to whatever is required from your state or, you know, to meet the vacuum of something that's not required. There are big employers who offer nothing, you just get to use, you know, whatever PTO time you have, and there's no special paid leave policy for parental leave. There are small companies that can be incredibly generous and offer paid leave or even offer unlimited family leave of any kind. We know a few of employers who are incredibly forward thinking and offer that. And then there are small employers who again offer nothing and aren't protected by federal law because of their size as well. So it's very important to figure out what you get from your
employer, and if you are job shopping, really look at that benefit as well and go in with your eyes open about what will be available to you. Because they there's just no requirement. If you don't live in a state with paid leave, there's no requirement to offer parental leave at all.
Yeah, so it's, you know, I wonder how are you? I'm just curious, are you seeing a movement now that the job market is such that that really some companies are heavily competing for employees? Are you seeing a move towards more companies offering parental leave? So we absolutely are, even over the last seven to eight years, you know, if you remember, you know, five to six years back, there was sort of a spate of tech companies who were making these generous paid leave policy announcements. So it was parental leave, or it was a family medical leave as well, Netflix, Microsoft, all of these big tech employers who are constantly competing for talent, really had to step up and start offering that and realize the value, right, they had these young workforces who were coming into their prime parenting years and starting a family years. And they really stepped up. And we've seen companies increasingly realize the value of retaining their working parents, and those are the companies we work with at the Center for parental leave leadership, are those companies that realize, hey, I want to do the right thing here. I'm not informed enough to know what that is come and help us figure out our policy and figure out our practice. So we can create a culture where we all do this, right? It's just the way it's done. And we support each other through transitions like this. Interesting. So this may be a self a very obvious question. But Amy, what's the difference between parental leave and maternity leave? Sure.
You'd be amazed there's there's no obvious question when it comes to parental leave. So parental is a gender neutral term that applies to all parents, no matter their gender identification, it's usually found in in use in companies that offer a gender neutral benefit that is the same for everyone. In companies that don't we find the terms maternity leave, and paternity leave so that those usually apply maternity leave to a birthing mother and paternity leave to a father. And so those are usually used in companies that have a different type of benefit where the mother is getting the birthing mother is getting more than the father would. Okay, that makes sense. So parental leave is is the gender neutral term, but in the maternity, how does it factor in that we have both the giving of the birth and so that is a medical condition? As in how do we plus the time that a parent, male or female or any gender identification wants to stay at home with the with the child? So how do we segregate out the medical part versus the bonding and the parenting and the huge major life change part?
Yeah, it's another piece that's done differently everywhere. In many companies, we see people we see the policy separated into bonding, leave and medical leave. So that medical leave would be if you had to go out if you're a birthing parents you go out before for any complications through the birth and recovery. And bonding leave would be for a non birthing parent or an extension to that medical leave. So for example, you might have six weeks of medical leave for birthing mother or birthing parent and you would have an additional six weeks of bonding leave for that parent as well as any additional parents which means one is getting 12 weeks and the other is getting six weeks in a two parent household. Gotcha. Okay, excellent. Okay, that makes sense.
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Another thing that that we hear about is policies that we give you a maternity leave, or a paternity leave, or parental leave depending on what they're calling. But as part of that, if you were to come back and they are not come back, if you if you don't come back from work to work, or if you don't come back and stay X percentage X number of months, you have to pay back, either the whole thing or a percentage of that. So how I don't even know the name for what that is? And how common is that? And, and how does it vary? I mean, give us some of the variances of what companies are requiring. Yeah, and again, this is a policy decision at a company level, typically, but what we see is employer saying, Okay, we want to do the right thing here, but we don't want to like pay you to leave, and then you decide that you want to stay home with your child. And so they're trying to sort of insulate themselves from a financial loss in that case. And it can really vary in terms of how long they expect you to show up once your leave is over. You know, sometimes it's six months, sometimes it's a year. But again, it's it's a little bit of a mixed bag. And I think companies,
it's going to be so interesting to watch policies shift. If we do end up fingers crossed, toes crossed, getting a paid leave law at a federal level, there's going to be a lot of companies trying to figure out what the new landscape looks like. And I think that's one of the policies that will be dispensed with, right? That will be one of the first things out the door, because it won't make sense anymore. Why wouldn't it make sense? Because if the company is, let's, maybe I'm missing something, okay, let me let's say I am working for a company, I get a eight week paid parental leave, I take it. And then I say at the end, I don't want to I don't want to come back. Or let's say that the federal law goes into effect. And the same thing happens, the 12 weeks. So at the end of 12 weeks, I say, I'm not going to come back, I'm going to stay home and parent. Why would that? Do away with the need for a policy from a company standpoint, that I should be out some money, I shouldn't accept the 12 weeks if I'm not going to return? It's because of the way this law will be funded, it won't be something the employer is expected to pay. Gotcha. That makes all the sense in the world. Yeah. Which which is worth worth spending a little more time on. So because people do often think of this, when they hear paid leave, they think it's an employer expense. And so it's because it has been in the past. Exactly, exactly. And so what we're talking about with a federal law is very similar to medical care, where people pay in both the employee and the employer pays in, I think it's like $4 a month into insurance program that covers everyone in the country. And so whenever someone goes out on leave, they would be getting funding from that pot of money. And so that that would be off of the business, and they'd still be paying in for their employees for their percentage. And so would the employee. Sorry, I may have said employers are paying in.
But they won't be paying out in the same way. If that makes sense. No, it makes very good sense. And therefore, there is no, the employer would not be out the money. So they would have no need to say exactly. But are you seeing a i? It is an interesting policy, I understand the reason that an employer would want that policy. But I can see some downsides to that, in that parents feeling trapped in it. And I wonder I mean, Sue, what are you seeing when you talk with companies? And what is their experience with that? I can I can I understand. I can see both sides on this one. I can too. And honestly, for the most part, people are just so grateful to have paid leave once they realize that most people don't. So they're kind of like, Oh, I'm I'm so so grateful that I get paid leave at all right? And the trapped feeling doesn't necessarily come in until they return. And for some reason, it's not meeting their needs, right? So then they're just like running out the clock until they can move on. And then you run into the issue of you know, presenteeism, where that employee may be showing up, but they're not as invested as they once were. Yeah. And you know, Amy and I have been answering questions about sort of what exists right now. And this hodgepodge of ways that employers offer, you know, maternity versus paternity, you know, primary caregiver versus non primary caregiver. But one of the things I think it's important to say is that when we come in and look at a policy, there are a couple of broad recommendations, you know, and policies run to pages and pages, but I
baseline level, we want to see a policy that is gender neutral. One of the reasons for that is that we're ever going to improve pay equity for all genders of employees, it needs to be just as likely that a man would go out and take parental leave as any other person, or you're going to have that unconscious bias against people who are traditionally, you know, having the kids prime considered the quote, unquote, primary caregiver. And that's the thought of an employer, I would rather hire a man than a woman because a woman is going to take maternity leave. And so yeah, okay, that makes very good sense. Go ahead. Yes. So gender neutrality is important. It's also important because you know, both parents, to the extent that it's possible, if you're in a two parent family, need the opportunity to bond with that child bond with their relationship, set new norms for their family, it has positive pro social impacts, you know, 510 years down the line, if you can both take that parental leave, it's incredible. And we have this data from other countries who do this a lot better than we do. The other baseline thing that we recommend is that you're not putting a stipulation on it, that someone needs to have worked for the company for a certain amount of time before they're eligible to get parental leave. Right? All those sort of like, you need to earn it kind of feelings really detract from the support experience and the culture that you're trying to create. So we just want to see that this is the way this company does it. We value working parents, we value caregivers who have to take care of elderly family members or sick family members, right? We value your home life and make sure that you can prioritize that and do what you need to do. So when you come back to work, you're invested and you're ready to go. Amy, what are some of the other baselines we recommending? 100% pay? Yep. And a minimum of 12 weeks. And I would say to Sue's point because it relates to what you were asking earlier, Don, about refunding any pay if you're away in that policy. It's the same effect as what Sue was just saying about requiring a length of time, it just creates animosity, and you don't want that in your culture. Right? It's not, it's not something that goes well.
Or it undermines what you're what you're really trying to do anyway. You got it. Okay. All right. Now, let's move on to the demographics that mostly are listening to this podcast. And that is what we're going to start with adoptive and I'm going to move on to asking about foster and kinship. But let me just start with adoption. So does parental leave differ for someone who is adopting a child versus birthing a child? Amy? Absolutely, in the ways that we've been talking about, depending on your policy, so like we were discussing, a birthing parent would have usually a longer supported and paid leave, versus an adopting one, we run into situations where that are just heartbreaking where you have may have two dads and neither have any parental leave. So they're adopting their new baby or child and they don't have any leave at all. That's going to be a very different situation than to adoptive moms who would both have, like if they work for an employer or live in a state that has paid leave would both be covered for for having leave. And let me just back up a little bit and say Amy's speaking at the company policy level again, and for family reasons, the coverage for that bonding time is the same for adoptive versus birthing families. It's that's 12 weeks is the same. But when we That's of course, unpaid, just job protection. So Amy's speaking to the company policy level where it can get very, very complicated where it can be paid. Okay, so yeah, let's, let's back up and use the same framework that we've used at the beginning. So when you are adopting a child, how would the new paid leave for All Act? How would that handle adoption? The exact same way it would handle birth? It would be an IT DOES adoption, surrogacy fostering birth, any legal or biological reason. Okay, so that 12 weeks paid leave. So and Sue just addressed femme la femme love would be if I understood you correctly, would say 12 weeks if you're covered by film law, which we've acknowledged, right, it only about half the people are, but it would be 12 weeks job protection, unpaid leave, regardless of whether you gave birth or whether you adopted is that correct? Correct. Okay, so on the state level, I think we're gonna we're gonna say it's a mixed bag because
It just isn't. And you really need to there's only in the nine states who do provide paid leave probably handle it differently, I believe so yeah, they do. And I, it's really important to, if you're living in a state that has paid leave to look into that, because some outline it specifically and say this is for adoption, fostering are birth, and others will say just legal or biological relationship. So, and some will say, only birthing, parents, they're all different. So do pay attention to the nuance of that language. Okay, so that handles it on the governmental level. Now we're moving to the company level. And if if I've understood what you were saying before, Amy, it is, if your company has a birthing, you know, the medical part that would not be eligible for adopting parents, but if they have an additional bonding part, that would be so if they were to give, in total 12 weeks, six weeks for the medical getting over the birth, and six weeks for bonding, adoptive parents would be eligible for the six weeks of bonding. That is, Did I understand you? Correct. Okay. Absolutely. That's a great example. But if that bonding leave does not exist, and only medical leave exists, they would not have anything. So they would have no ability to take off. What do you even know what percentage of companies include leave parental leave, at this point paid or unpaid for adoptive parents, the majority of come there's, there's a roughly 20% of people in the US have access to one even one day of leave. So it's going to be less than that. That's across the board across all of the nine states plus DC, and all of the companies outside of those states make up that 20%. So it would be less. Okay, before we move off of adoption and into fostering. What about birth mothers, a woman who has made the decision to place her child for adoption? She is is she? I would assume she would be? Yeah, well, let's just go on the three levels. Let's talk about for the paid leave for all which may not even been thought about for that. And then let's talk about finless. So, so what would happen with birth moms for Provincial relief. So again, the law not being passed, it's impossible to say with 100% accuracy, but that birthing parent would be eligible for the medical recovery portion. And so would get paid under the new law, which has not been passed yet. And that's pretty safe to say that that would be covered under any sort of medical thing. So if there's paid leave for a medical event, that's where that would fall in love. If that person works for a job protected, you know, if they're if their employer is subject to fenlon, then they would get that job protection for that same recovery period from the birth. Gotcha. Okay. So it would be for the which makes sense, the birth part, but not the bonding part. Okay, correct.
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Alright, so now I want to talk about fostering, does there have to be a legal relationship between the parent and the child? So would parental leave differ for someone who was going to foster a child? Amy, again, using that, that levels response? It depends by state. And, again, some don't cover fostering unless there is a legal relationship. But we do see more and more companies at the company level, who include fostering whether there's a legal relationship or not, and this is where it gets into a gray area, depending on the size of the company and, and how far they are along and understanding how to support parental leave. So many companies will offer leave, even if that is an undefined fostering relationship. Maybe it's Graham ma who is taking in her grandchildren or, you know, there's something that's a little out of our traditional, you've had a birth and you're going back, right? But that is becoming more and more codified just so that there is a common that everyone's protected and that there's a common experience. So some of these, I'm sorry, I wish I had a more clear answer, but they really come down to what is your state law? What is your company policy? Right? Well, that makes sense. No, I
I understand, you know, one of the challenges for fostering is that sometimes these relationships a child, a foster child is placed with you. The goal is family reunification. And oftentimes the child I mean, ideally, in an ideal world, the family, the birth family, gets their act together, they're able to get support, they're able to heal, and relatively quickly, they get the child back. That doesn't always happen, obviously. But that's, that's certainly an ideal scenario. So then you get a new foster placement. So is there have accompanies handle that made it's one thing if you get a foster placement every three years, it's another thing if you get a new foster placement every three months? Yeah, done. It's such a good point. Because what we see is, this is one of the reasons a lot of company level policies don't include fostering because people think that will be abused or overused, and that people will be gone all the time with one foster after another. Right. So we do see at the company level more often than not fostering is not included. And if it is, it's included with parameters, like one time a year use. Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, it's a, it's a, again, you can see both sides, it's so important for foster kids to have a parent and especially to help them adjust in that initial time. But you can see from an employer standpoint that it's complicated. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so I wanted to circle back to something Amy was talking about that is kinship caregivers. They are on the rise. And so a grandparent or an aunt or a sibling, it you know, any when you step up to take care of kin, regardless of their but they've have a family relationship to the child. How is that handled? And if you want to use our framework of federal, existing federal hoped for state and company, and honestly, on the kinship question for the hoped for law, I am not sure at this point. And we've got you know, the details that they're willing to share about what's being negotiated Exactly. And it's being negotiated. So whatever you say, we have to take a little bit of a grain of salt here. Exactly. So we kind of have to set that one aside. So again, you're looking at, from a family perspective, I would actually have to super check with an attorney to see if I don't know the answer off the top of my head to the kinship as far as family goes. But because if
it is, you know, there's family definitions within the family law, if you are a blood relation to that child, you could also look, you need some time to take care of a medical condition or, you know, even a mental health condition for that child. And you could make a case for film law, under that, you know, specific if they weren't going to give you the parental leave piece, one thing I would recommend to everyone is if you have a situation like this, that is a little bit outside the norm, go to your employer, and have a solution at the ready for what you want, and how you can make it meet the needs of the business as well. And come to them and appeal to them on that human level. Right. So you would be surprised at what you can negotiate when you go in with a thoughtful plan. And you know what you want. So even though we've got this hodgepodge, and you know, this isn't very well defined for many people, and players don't think about it, they're worried about being taken advantage of, in those gray areas. There's always room for that human touch and some negotiation about what's important to you. And if you keep in mind the needs of the business, they're going to be more open to giving you what it is you need. And I so appreciate that you say, consider where they're coming from as well. If you can work it out to where it's, if not a win win, at least not a win super big loss. Yeah.
Is that if we can come up with that, then you then you may be able to get something that's a fair, a fair statement. One of the things that Sue and I really work to counter is this idea of an essence of them. Right? We're all if there's anything we can do to improve our country and our the way we work together in our work family, to you know, integration is having a racing that US them, right. We are all in this together there. This isn't something that they have. It's such a tricky one because it's much easier to live in a place of I'm, I deserve this. I'm entitled to this I should be treated this way. And because that's true.
But we also know that this topic is a problem that our companies have stepped into fill and our federal government hasn't yet right this is its is as we've been
Talking about it's a layered problem that has been put on our parents to fix. And the parents are then looking to their companies to fix. But really, it's a systemic issue that our whole country needs to fix. So I just if people can think about it in that way, and understand those companies are just as crunched right now trying to figure this out and work together. They may improve their experience. But their experience anyone in this next year to two years, they're still going to have a tricky experience. What we're really looking at is improving it for that next child that they have or well done, and their children's children. And you know, yeah, yeah, Amen. Yes, I completely agree.
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All right, in the time we have left, I want to talk about your new book, The Parental Leave playbook. As far as I know, it's the only thing out there that exists like this, I may not know but I so appreciate that you're you've together have used your expertise to kind of lay out a framework and you break the phases of parental aid, you break it parental leave into three phases. First preparing for your leave, then what to do during your leave, and then returning from leave. So I would encourage you for all of our audience to get the parental leave playbook. So before we go any further, how would they get a copy of that. And when you can get a copy wherever books are sold, it came out on September 15 of 2021. And if you want some just details on the book, you can go to CPL leadership.com, forward slash book. And CPL stands for center for parental leave leadership, harass, EPL, leadership of the Center for parental leave.
Okay, so let's talk about the first phase, which is how should people prepare for their leave?
Done? Do you mind if I step it back a little bit to one thing you just asked or touched on? Sure. And that's why is it important to think of this as a three phase transition? Okay. We talked about parental leave, historically, we don't we haven't, right? It's this time that women because men didn't take it, there wasn't, you know, any other gender identifications were not considered when women took leave, they went away, they had a child, they came back and they fit right back into where they were before ever, they were expected to fit back where they were before. And, and really what we're trying to get people to understand is, that's outdated, and it's wrong. And what this is, is one of the most monumental personal and professional transitions in a career lifecycle. And a transition by its nature has three phases, preparing a during an emerging and so these three phases map onto that transition theory framework. So there, you what that does for both managers and employees, it breaks it down in a way that they can wrap their hands around, wrap their head around and say, Okay, this isn't forever. This isn't for even for 12 weeks, you know, on both sides, it's not short, and it's not long, it's roughly a year's worth of time, in an entire career. And there'll be some preparing that needs to happen. There'll be and then we can so that's the background. I just wanted to say before we get into the to each one. Okay, that makes sense. Okay, thank you. Yep. All right, let's start with the the first the preparing for your leave. So What should parents do? They, they either know, they want to get pregnant, or they want to adopt, or they are planning on fostering. Somehow they're going to become a parent. What do they need to do think about during that time before they're asking for their leave? So sure, so for each of the three phases, we have, you know, three to four touch points in each one that everybody's going to hit upon, and how you handle those is going to impact how well you feel your leave has gone. So the touch points of phase one, the first one that we have is the announcement, right? So when you're announcing, hey, I'm welcoming a child, you are setting the tone for your entire leave and how you'll interact with your employer about this event in your life, and too often
We come at it apologetically, right Oh, I know, we're so busy. And we're so slammed. And guess what I need some time off, because I'm going to be welcoming a child. And that is not what we want you to do. Right? We want you to come in with a confident, excited announcement and show that you are ready to do the work that it takes to plan your leave well, and set the company up well, as well as yourself, company or organization. Not everybody works for companies. But the first step is really announcing and setting that tone in a as positive way as you possibly can. Because you're going to be people respond to your energy and the way that you feel about something. So if you want this to be a confident experience, where people are just accepting this and is rolling with it, and moving on, you can really go a long way to fostering that, by the way that you talk about it.
The next phase, which I think a lot of people overlook, is the assessment, right, and especially for your audience, Don, where there are moving pieces that many people don't have to deal with. And companies are not as used to dealing with, you need to do an assessment of your entire circumstances. So we actually have a tool that we developed, which is called the parental leave transition assessment. But you can break it down, you don't necessarily need the fancy tool, there's a way to sort of do it yourself. And we walk you through that in the book, but it's evaluating all of these different areas of your leave. What are what's your situation, right? What is the the strategies that you have that you're typically bringing that work well, for you are the strategies you've tried in the past that don't work? Well, that you don't want to repeat again? What are the sabotages the potential things that could go catastrophically wrong, and then you look at your assets and your liabilities, and you're working to leverage all of your assets. And then you're looking to minimize or mitigate any risks from those liabilities that are in your situation. It's not wise to jump in and start making a plan until you've really done this assessment and looked at everything that you're facing. So can I just add something real quick? Part of what we've been talking about is, in that assess, is also looking at your policy and what you Your situation is right? And so you'll want to do that part of it before you announce
that don't wait until after you announce to do that. Yeah, that's I think it's super critical for your audience. Yeah, that makes very good sense. Okay, excellent. And then you come up on the next touch point, I think you mentioned as you come up with your action plan. A Exactly. And then your fourth touch point under the first phase, which is preparing for the leave, is acknowledged the transition to parenthood? What do you mean by that?
I think we're just so busy in our day to day that often we overlook the, you know, milestone nature of what we're doing. So really taking that time to think about what kind of a parent do I want to be? How do I want this to look? How do I want this to feel? What are my values, right? Thinking about acknowledging how everything is about to shift for you, and trying to be really intentional about what you want going forward. And also just celebrating? Right? This is a long journey. For many, many people. This is a long journey. And it's really, really important to take that time to slow down enough and celebrate. Yeah, true. And it's certainly for our audience. Sometimes it's been even longer. Yes. All right, let's move to the second phase, which is your youth, you have welcomed this child into your home, you are now parenting this child. Amy, what are the touch points in for this phase? Well, the way that we've structured this, we walk through what happens at each phase or what is necessary to learn about each phase. But we really recommend that you're learning and reading all of this in the first phase before while you're preparing. And you're back. So I just wanted to say that because some of these might not make complete sense if you haven't prepared before. So the first one is, appropriately keep in touch and what that is, and you would be doing that decision making as part of your action planning and phase one, you're thinking about? How do I want to stay in touch with my work or not while I'm away and for some, you know, in some companies, that there's a very strict law, you don't work while you're on leave. I mean, in all companies, that is a lot but it it's not always the best thing. For some people. A lot of what we find is many, many people who are very career identified or really invested in their work. Don't want
to step away for 12 weeks completely they that makes them nervous, it causes more stress at a time where we're trying to decrease stress. And so thinking that through for each individual person, and coming up with a plan, it may look like you have a friend at work, who fills you in, if there's been a big reorg, or big structure change, or you have a new boss, or you know, the certain things that you would want to be kept in touch about. So that's, that's thinking that through. The next one is advocate. And, of course, you need to be able to understand how to advocate for yourself, well throughout this process, but while the reason it's in this middle area is this is the time where you really start to need to advocate for not just yourself, but your new child, your new family that's formed.
And anything else that might come up and you're learning, you're needing to do that in many different places. And at work, yes, at home, you'll need to do that with your spouse or partner if you have one or your family. But it's really understanding what your own needs are, and learning how to communicate those in ways that get you what you need, while being considerate of those around you. So that's one of the touch points in during leave. And then the next one, this, the last one in this phase is the arrangements for return. And that's at the end of your leave, where you're really starting to turn your attention back to returning to work and you're having to navigate those, that new dual role of being a parent and a worker, and, and how to how how that may have changed from what you thought it would be when you made your action plan back in phase one of what your return would look like and adjusting for that as as you may need to.
Okay, that makes Yeah, that makes excellent sense. And, and all of that's taking place in the the middle phase. And then we have our last phase which is coming reentering the workforce after your leave. So what are the touch points there?
Well, again, we take a few minutes to pause and acknowledge the transition again, right, we repeat that a but this time, we're acknowledging the transition to working parent, you know, Amy's background is very academic. And she got her doctorate, studying all of this and creating this model, which is the first evidence based model. And one of the big takeaways from that is this is a role transition, right, your identity is shifting. And that's why this feels so Rocky and challenging at some points. And so taking the time to acknowledge that this is yet another shift, and not just to becoming a parent, but now to becoming a working parent, which can be very challenging in our culture. So that's the first touch point of this final phase. The one after that is probably my favorite, because I think there's so much room for personal growth throughout the whole process. But the next touch point is adjustment. Right? You're not as Amy referred to before, it's not realistic to think someone's going to hop back into the workplace and be exactly the same type of employee that they were before. There are certain adjustments that you might need to make on a personal level, on a you know, family support level. And certainly an in your role as an employee and in the workplace, there may be some adjustments that need to happen. So being flexible about that, when we talked about action planning to usually we're doing a huge plug for contingency planning, right? Just because you make a plan doesn't mean everything's going to go according to your plan. So making sure that you have some backup plans and fallback plans and using one of those does not mean there's been a failure, right? It's part of any good planning and execution process that you're going to have to flex. And this adjustment a reminds you to do that. And it's probably my favorite, I could talk about adjustment for hours.
And then the last A is access to career development. Right? So it's time to take stock and think about what you want for your career. What do you want a year from now? What do you want three years from now, five years from now? Is it different than what you thought you wanted? Back in phase one, it's time to look at that and then get a plan in place for yourself so that you can meet whatever goals you have, right? Whether that's kind of staying where you are because it feels really great and stable, or wanting to move up or wanting to completely shift careers. It's time to look at that and sort of keep your eye on that ball as well.
And when I appreciate I appreciate the family leave playbook for breaking it down in those easy to understand steps because I sound my brain works.
I did appreciate it and done within those in the book. We asked lots of questions we have you do exercises that you can just
Read along or actually do we there's conversation starters, there's templates for emails of how you want to communicate with your team, you know, there, it's we really get down to the granular level, as well as holding that big picture and that emotional journey. Mm hmm. Exactly. I highly recommend our audience to get the parental leave playbook by Dr. Amy beacom. And Sue Campbell. Thank you so much, Amy and sue for being with us today to talk about parental leave. I've learned a lot which is always exciting. I thought I knew some stuff. But you know what, I didn't know as much as I thought I knew. So. There you go. It's a life is good when you learn. Thank you so much for being with us today and to our audience. Check us out next week. We'll have some more exciting information to share. Thank you all
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