Back to work after baby

01 September, 2017

Lawyer and HR specialist Julie Jones knows what it’s like to return to work after maternity leave.

As CCI’s Group Manager, People, Legal and Risks, she also knows what organisations are required to do when their staff take time out to have children.

Her presentation Continuing Careers for Women: Returning to Work after Maternity Leave at this year’s CCI HR Conference Post Boom Reboot on September 14 will tell the story from both sides – employer and employee.

Jones, who has 13 years’ post-admission experience and has worked at CCI for five years, has taken maternity leave for the births of her two children as well as compassionate maternity leave.

As Jones is the main income earner, her husband accesses flexible work arrangements to help support the family.

“Most people in Australia take an eight-month break for maternity leave, so you are talking a maximum of 18 months that a person is out of the workforce if you add together the two children a person is most likely to have over a career, which is likely to span 40 years,” she says.

“It’s not a lot of time and less than what we perceive.”

Jones will give an overview of strategies used by businesses in Australia and across the globe are implementing to help women return to work.

“For example, GHD have a 10-week return to work program, not even for current employees but for any women who are looking to return to work, which I think is really a great thing,” Jones says.

GHD was named the 2016 Employer of Choice by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for focus on greater flexibility for women and support for them to progress into leadership positions.

The global professional services company now has 38 per cent of women in its Australia leadership team, its board is 33 per cent female and more than 40 per cent of its new starters are women, a rise of four per cent on the previous year.

Jones says it’s important to recognise that woman, who make up 50 per cent of the workforce, have often invested a lot in their careers by the time they take maternity leave.

“I am one of those people who have made a decision that I am the primary income earner and my husband is actually now accessing the entitlement to work flexible work arrangements.”

She says strategies for keeping women in the workforce can work both ways – for example, Jones, worked one day a week from home throughout one of her maternity leaves, which was of benefit to both the company and the employee. 

“That’s one of my top tips to mums – to work during your maternity leave if possible and to keep in touch with your employer,” she says.

“Don’t exit completely as it makes the return process easy and it makes them remember who you are a lot easier. It’s not possible in every workplace but for me it was a world of difference .”

►Hear more from Jones and a list of other HR Professions including former army officer and humanitarian Rabia Siddique and former WA premier Carmen Lawrence at the HR conference. Get your tickets here.