Parental Leave Best Practices for Supervisors and HR Reps

The University of Iowa strives to provide an environment where employees are supported, treated fairly, along with respect during pregnancy and upon their return to work. Evidence shows that the sooner you start to prepare for this transition the easier it will be. Effective planning will build motivation and commitment and help ensure the work of the department can continue without loss of momentum. University Human Resources encourages the use of the “Three-Meeting Model”, published in the Harvard Business Review, as an effective way to accomplish a smooth transition for employees and supervisors.

Three Meeting Model

  1. Celebration & Reassurance
    This meeting occurs at the time pregnancy is disclosed. In departments which have a supportive environment and where families and pregnancy are celebrated, women feel confident and able to talk about pregnancy, so early disclosure is more likely. The supervisor’s role during this meeting is to celebrate the news of their employee’s upcoming addition to his or her family and assure them they are supported to take their leave. In addition, the supervisor should direct the employee to the unit’s HR Representative and together a transition plan will be created as the leave gets closer. Additionally during this meeting the HR representative should discuss with the employee his/her rights and responsibilities under the Family Medical Leave Act, the University Operations manual, usage of paid leave accruals, anticipated length of absence, and other resources which can be found on the UI Faculty and Staff Disability Services website
  2. Transition Plan
    This meeting occurs approximately three months prior to the expected due date. . It is helpful for the employee to come to the meeting with a list of job responsibilities and, preferably, an idea of who could take over specific tasks while they are on leave. Together, a transition plan will be developed. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to talk to the individuals who will be taking over responsibilities. Important points to consider:
  3. Post-Leave Conversation
    This meeting occurs as the due date approaches. Final tweaks to the transition plan are made, and the supervisor should ask about preferences for keeping in touch over leave and current thoughts about post-leave.
  • Key dates-expected date of leave and return, potential keep in touch days, if preferred by employee
  • How can workload be reprioritized across the team?
  • Can any activities be postponed? This is often suitable for project-based roles.

Keeping in Touch

While on leave, employers cannot require an employee to work, however the supervisor or HR Representative should be in touch so the unit knows when the employee plans on returning to work. Keeping in touch also can help create a smooth transition back after leave. Offer to inform the employee of changes at work, training opportunities and job vacancies while she is on leave.

Returning to Work

Flexible Work Arrangements

UI Family Services can provide consultation to employees and supervisors to help create the most effective flexible work arrangement (FWA) to meet the needs of both parties. A FWA tool-kit and other resources can be found on the Family Services website. Examples of FWA include part-time work, telecommuting, compressed work week, and job sharing.

Lactation Support and Resources

The University of Iowa follows and supports the guidelines established under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that requires employers to provide:

“reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”

”Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.”

For further clarification, please review the Break Time for Nursing Mothers FAQs or contact Family Services at 319-335-1371.

Child Care Resources

UI Family Services can assist employees looking for regular and back-up child care. Please refer to the Family Services website for more information.