Having a baby, adopting or fostering a child is a major moment in the lives of new parents. While it’s exciting, it also brings a new set of challenges. So, it’s important to remain flexible and manage this transition in the best way for the new family unit.
Parental leave from work makes sure the crucial first few weeks together are used to maximum effect. It can also help avoid the need to take stress leave further down the line.
NoHQ supports remote employees and distributed teams to arrange parental leave with the right balance of consideration between the employee, their family and the needs of the business.
What is Parental Leave?
Parental leave is time off work for mothers and fathers who want or need time to prepare for, care for or bond with their child.
It’s not limited only to when your child is new to the family. Some parents take parental leave, for example, if their child has a medical issue that requires multiple hospital visits or regular care at home.
Most companies have a policy on parental leave that’s worth considering this before taking on a new role – particularly if you’re considering starting a family in the near future. When preparing for the arrival of a child as a couple with different employers, compare the policy for each to make a fully informed decision on how to make it work best for you.
For example, in 2022, Google increased parental leave for its employees from 18 to 24 weeks, Docusign increased parental leave to 6 months in 2018, and Netflix now offers 1 year of paid parental leave.
Different Types of Parental Leave
There are several different types of parental leave. Which you’re entitled to will depend on your personal circumstances and which country you’re based in. This is particularly true for remote workers.
Check your employer’s Parental Leave Policy to see how time off will affect your entitlement to pay and other benefits. Lots of companies these days are progressive and have policies that go beyond their statutory requirements.
Time off for mothers having a baby or adopting a child. It’s a legal right in most countries, but the way it’s managed differs across jurisdictions.
Entitlement can differ depending on things such as:
- Length of service
- Company size
- Employee contribution to state funds
For pregnant women, maternity leave typically begins before their child is born.
There may be a notice period for you to inform your employer of your intention to take maternity leave. This will be detailed in your organization’s Parental Leave Policy.
Not all maternity leave is paid, so check the details closely.
Specific to men with a pregnant partner or who are fostering a child. Some companies offer enhanced paternity leave provision as part of their terms and conditions.
In some jurisdictions parents can share parental leave through a combination of paternity and maternity leave.
Unique to parents adopting a child.
Typically, the adoption agency you’re working with can support you in learning about local laws that affect your entitlement.
Why Parental Leave is Important
As a remote worker, you may think you don’t need parental leave as you will be at home with your child anyway. In many cases, this would be a mistake.
- Parental leave helps form a crucial bond with your child that will last a lifetime. Socially and emotionally, the first few days, weeks and months are precious moments you can’t get back. While the precise amount of time needed will vary for different families, giving yourself time to adjust to your new life as a parent is vital. And you’ll probably appreciate the chance to have the odd nap.
- There are several studies that reveal the benefits of parental leave, not least of which are that 90% of men who took part in a survey said it improved their relationship with their partner. And that it’s proven to help shape family dynamics for the long-term.
- But arranged parental leave also benefits your employer. By allowing them time to plan for your absence, you give them the chance to ensure your role is adequately filled while you’re away. Which means, when you come back, you’re not greeted by chaos.
- It helps set expectations about how much work you can do. Trying to manage your new child and existing workload is likely to result in both being neglected to some degree. So, do yourself and your employer a favor and plan ahead.
How to Write a Parental Leave Request
Properly planning parental leave starts with researching the policies that apply to you. Once you know how to structure your leave, it’s time to write to your employer. Follow these steps to write a parental leave request letter or email.
1. Remember to stick to conventions when writing or typing a letter. Your address should be in the top left-hand corner of the page, with your employers’ address on the right-hand side (ignore this if sending an email).
2. Put the date below your employer’s address. This is crucial as it’s proof of when you informed your employer about your request. Once again, there is no need to include the date in an email.
3. For letters, it pays to place a subject line below your address and above the ‘Dear…’ to introduce the text's focus. When sending an email, this is the subject line. Don’t overthink it. ‘Maternity Leave Application’ or similar will suffice.
4. The main body of your letter or email should be to the point. Explain when you want your parental leave to begin and what date you intend to return to work. If you’re waiting on the birth of a child, give the due date but explain this is subject to change. Make it clear that you will prioritise your workload until the start of your parental leave and provide information about steps you have taken/will take to manage your responsibilities before you go. It’s advisable to let your employer know you’ll be happy to take calls during your parental leave if clarification is required about any aspects of your role. End by thanking them for supporting you at this transitional moment in your life and assuring them you’re looking forward to returning to work when the time comes.
5. If any forms or documentation are required, include them with your letter. If you’re still waiting for the required information, explain this and assure them you will provide it as soon as possible.
6. Once your parental leave begins, don’t forget to stay in touch with your colleagues. This is especially true for remote workers who can still participate in online wellbeing activities which help you stay connected. These are also good for your own health at a time when it can be tempting to neglect yourself.
Below is an example of a parental leave request letter that addresses all the points above:
“Ms Jill Scott Garfield Enterprises
402 Nebraska Ave 13 Windsor Blvd
Brewster, Kansas(KS), 67732 Brewster, Kansas(KS), 67732
3rd April 2023
Subject: Maternity Leave Application
Dear Mr Garfield
I am writing to inform you of my pregnancy and my intention to take the 26 weeks of maternity leave that I am entitled to on or around October 2, 2023. My baby is due to be born on October 8, 2023 and I intend to stop work 1 week prior to giving birth and return to work on April 1, 2024.
Should the length of my pregnancy be longer or shorter than anticipated I would amend my parental leave dates as appropriate and will give you as much notice as possible about such an event.
I will do all I can to complete any priority projects before my maternity leave begins and will check in periodically from home throughout my leave. I intend to delegate some of my responsibilities to my deputy for the period that I will be on leave and have already discussed this with him. Please feel free to contact me to clarify anything while I am on leave.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting me and allowing me time away from the office to prepare for the birth, bond with my child and adjust to life as a parent. The required maternity leave form is attached with this letter along with a letter from my doctor confirming my pregnancy. Please contact me if you require any additional information.
In the post-Covid era, employers are more aware of how distributed teams work and how to help promote good mental health for remote workers, so don’t be afraid of approaching your employer for support in balancing work and family life.
Most companies are perfectly willing to support employees with parental leave and only ask that you provide sufficient notice and continue to give 100% right up until your leave begins.
NoHQ is an educational platform for remote employees and companies, supporting business leaders with distributed teams to manage across multiple jurisdictions and varied statutory obligations. To learn how we can help you understand your rights when it comes to parental leave and how you can prioritise devotion to both your family and your career goals, get in touch today.