FWO focuses on parents with new workplace campaign

Ombudsman shifts focus to new and expecting parents as part of latest effort to increase awareness of employees' workplace rights

June 13, 2013

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is shifting its focus to new and expecting parents as part of its latest effort to increase awareness of employees’ workplace rights.

Information on topics including parental leave entitlements, returning to work after leave and how to seek flexible work arrangements from employers is being included in more than 200,000 information packs being provided to new parents in hospitals across Australia.

FWO Executive Director Lynda McAlary-Smith says the agency wants to ensure new parents have the information they need to make informed decisions about how to approach issues around parenthood and work.

"We also want to help employers by highlighting the benefits that flexible working arrangements can bring to businesses. This includes better staff retention, reduced absenteeism and making their business attractive to potential employees," McAlary-Smith says.

She says encouraging workers to communicate openly and regularly with their employer in the lead-up to parental leave and when planning a return to work was a key part of the campaign.

"Employees should have these conversations with their employer with enough lead time to make suitable and beneficial arrangements for both parties," McAlary-Smith says.

"There is a series of things that must be done in the lead-up to parental leave. For instance, expecting parents should put their request for parental leave in writing, and they also need to make sure they apply in time - at least 10 weeks prior to the date they plan to commence their leave."

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