Top Tips to Ensure a Smooth Return to Work in 2020

With many of you planning to return to work in 2020 now is the perfect time to provide some advice and support around this journey that can be both exciting and daunting for many parents.

Your motivation

Firstly, consider the “why”. What is driving you to return to work? Whether it is to progress your career, pay the bills, keep your sanity in tact, resume adult conversations or to chase a dream, being fully aware of your motivation and being confident with your decision to return to work will make the transition a smoother one for you and your family.


Preparation, both practical and emotional is key. Your planning should start at least 6 months prior to your intended return to work date and if relying on private childcare the process should start much sooner given their lengthy waiting lists. Have conversations around your return to work with your partner, children and wider network early on as they too will be adjusting to this change. Whilst this is not always possible, being able to have open and honest communication with your employer throughout the duration of your parental leave will be instrumental in how your career return plays out too. Thinking about your support network and who will manage the school drop offs or household chores for example is something to also consider during the preparation stage.


Whether you are relying on grandparents, sharing the care with your partner, employing a nanny or enrolling your child/ren into childcare you may want to ensure you transition your child/ren into this new routine at least 2 weeks prior to your return to work date. A familiar routine will hopefully reduce stress, anxiety and tears too. It is important too to be confident with your choice of childcare as this will alleviate some of the guilt we naturally feel as parents when we head back to work.

Your right to negotiate flexibility

If you are returning to your employer following a period of parental leave ensure you negotiate an achievable plan to transition back into the business. Under the Fair Work Act 2009 parents have the legal right to request flexible work arrangements so don’t be afraid to put your case forward and remember, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Your employer will need to formally respond to your request and these days they simply cannot just reject your request or reply with a “no”, instead having to provide a rationale as to why your request was declined.

Visit the Fair Work Government website for information on your rights as an employee, types of flexible work arrangements and how to make a request for flexibility here.

Resume & LinkedIn profile

It is important to start the job-search process with a resume and LinkedIn profile that works for you rather than against you. Ensure your resume is in line with current market standards and that any employment gaps or time taken out of the paid workforce are clearly accounted for. Simply writing maternity or parental leave, raising family or career break are absolutely fine.

If you are not yet on LinkedIn you are selling yourself short. LinkedIn is a powerful social business networking tool and best of all there is no cost to creating a profile and developing a professional network. LinkedIn can instantly connect you with prospective employers, recruiters and vacant positions too.

If you don’t have the time or find the whole process of developing your resume and online platform overwhelming, we partner with a number of skilled and reputable service providers who are listed on our Support Services Directory.

Job search strategy

We would advise to keep your search broad by using a variety of job search methods. Use your own network and reach out to let them know you will be available for opportunities as you never know who is hiring or who could benefit from your experience and skill-set – it’s often about “who you know”. Ensure too that you register for a job alert on the Working Parents Connect platform to have flexible roles delivered straight to your inbox and consider registering with a supportive recruitment agency specialising in the industry or profession you are returning to.

If you are returning to work next year it is important to remember that the process can often be challenging and also competitive. With sufficient planning and support in place, your journey will be a less bumpy one and we wish all of you a successful return to work in 2020.