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Women Returning to Work: an analysis of women’s experiences in returning to work from parental leave with recommendations on strategies to eliminate barriers.

A Joint Project by The University of Auckland And The Association of University Staff of New Zealand

The Association of University Staff of New Zealand

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Contents 1.0

Foreword

3

2.0

Executive Summary

4

3.0

Background

9

4.0

The Project

11

5.0

Focus Groups

12

6.0

Responses to the Questionnaire

15

7.0

Related Research

19

8.0

International and Local Strategies to Assist Women Returning to Work

21

9. 0

Conclusions

23

10.0

Bibliography

29

Appendix: List of Recommendations

30

Cover: Ngarino Ellis is of NgÄ puhi/NgÄ ti Porou descent. She is a lecturer in the Department of Art History and is currently on parental leave with her third baby.

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1.0

Foreword

In 2005 Helen Kelly, General Secretary of the Association of University Staff of New Zealand (AUS), and Kath Clarke, Director of Human Resources at The University of Auckland, discussed the possibility of a joint project to support women returning to work after taking parental leave. One suggestion was that, if women on extended leave who were interested in part-time work, could be matched with temporary vacancies in the University, it could be of benefit to both the women and the University, particularly in terms of retaining skilled staff. The project was agreed to and progressed in 2006 by Prue Toft, EEO Manager, The University of Auckland, and Suzanne McNabb, Women’s Officer, the Association of University Staff. Ethics approval was obtained. The stated goals were to: ƒ Maximise retention of skilled staff and on-going participation of women in the University’s workforce; ƒ Reduce where possible the costs of engaging temporary employees; ƒ Enhance the job satisfaction of current employees; ƒ Provide an incentive for the recruitment of new staff; ƒ Eliminate barriers and potential disadvantage; ƒ Achieve leadership in employment of women returning to the workforce; ƒ Give practical effect to The University of Auckland’s EEO policies; and ƒ Contribute to the objectives of the Government’s five-year Plan of Action on Pay and Employment Equity in the tertiary sector. The project content is described in the following sections along with summaries of the information collected from focus groups and questionnaires, a synopsis of related research, selected extracts from international strategies to support women returning to work and, finally, the project’s conclusions. Following consideration of the recommendations, a strategic action plan to identify steps that could be taken to implement the recommendations will also be developed. The project co-ordinators would like to give special thanks to all the women who contributed to the project by participating in focus groups and filling in questionnaires, and to Penny Smith, Chamber of Commerce; Louise Nicholson, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences; Margaret Freeman, EEO Office; and staff and AUS members of the reference groups who have supported the project and contributed valuable advice.

Prue Toft EEO Manager The University of Auckland April 2007

Suzanne McNabb Women’s Officer The Association of University Staff of New Zealand April 2007

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2.0

Executive Summary

In 1971, women’s labour-force participation rate was less than half that of men (39% compared to 82%). Thirty-five years later, in 2005, 60.9% of women were in the labour force compared to 74.8% of men (Statistics New Zealand). Increasing female participation is a matter of local and national interest. Currently, one in three mothers do not come back to the workforce after having children when their children are young. Record low unemployment rates in New Zealand contribute to the need to retain skilled workers in the workforce. I strongly support this study and feel it is important not only for the University but for society as a whole that strategies be implemented to ease women’s return to work in a way that is beneficial to all – most important is the woman and her family, and secondly the employer (who gains by not losing valued and experienced staff) (Participant in the project). The Association of University Staff of New Zealand, and The University of Auckland, working in partnership, sought to discover if there are barriers to women returning to work from maternity leave and, if so, to identify strategies to eliminate them. In addition to the general aims of supporting all women returning to work, a project of this nature can assist in the advancement of women into senior positions. Career breaks to have children may cause reduced opportunity for full participation in the workforce and limit career advancement. Potential benefits of the strategies would be to enhance recruitment and retention, position The University of Auckland as a leading employer of women returning to work in a competitive labour market and achieve institutional strategic objectives to ‘create equal opportunities for all those of ability to succeed in a university of high international standing’ (Objective 13, page 8, The University of Auckland Strategic Plan 2005-2012). Women who had taken parental leave between January 2000 and September 2005 were contacted by letter and invited to participate in focus groups and/or fill in a written questionnaire. A total of 57 women returned questionnaires and 26 attended focus groups. The greatest interest was from women who had returned to work and 62% of these women participated in the project (as against those still on leave, or who had subsequently resigned). The majority of participants identified barriers to returning to work. The barriers were both institutional and, in some instances, described as ‘self imposed’. I’m taking the 14 weeks paid parental leave. I could take longer – it would be fine financially, but I don’t have tenure yet (under consideration) so I feel a pressure to be productive. I think this is probably my own personality as much as the University’s systems. The general findings of the project are consistent with related surveys and reviews which have highlighted the importance of quality childcare, breastfeeding facilities and flexible work arrangements. The benefit of this project is that it has highlighted specific strategies for improved services at The University of Auckland. In surveying provisions available in overseas universities, policies and facilities for breastfeeding appear common place. Funding for women returning to work in science, technology, engineering and medicine were frequently provided, as were special provisions for scholarships and awards which took parental leave into account. Specific provisions for general staff women were less common. -4-


The findings and recommendations are further consistent with the New Zealand Government’s support for ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection, which includes the right to paid breaks to breastfeed at work and the provision of suitable facilities for breastfeeding in the workplace. Key Strategies 1. Initiatives to support information-sharing and networking would be very beneficial in smoothing the transition between leave and work. Significant changes had sometimes taken place while women were on leave. Women returned with high expectations but often found it an emotional experience of isolation, confusion and low morale through anxieties that they were either not doing enough for their children, or not performing highly enough in the workplace. Recommendations 1. a That ‘transition to returning to work’ sessions be organised at the departmental level for all women who have taken three or more months’ parental leave. 1. b

That quarterly lunchtime meetings be held for women who have returned to work to provide information on relevant topics and provide opportunities for networking.

1. c

That information disseminated in these meetings be recorded in a newsletter which will be sent to all interested staff currently on parental leave, and to staff who have returned, but are unable to attend the meetings.

2. Voluntary ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ (similar to the Mediator’s ‘Resolve Network’) could be approved, and they could provide advice and support to women taking parental leave and returning to work. The advocates could attend meetings and receive relevant updates of policy and legislation. Recommendation 2. That consideration be given to appointing voluntary ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ accessible to staff in faculties and service divisions and who could provide advice and support to women returning to work. 3. There needs to be greater consideration given to supporting women who need to breastfeed and express milk. Arrangements are currently made on a case-by-case basis, but there is no overall policy or strategy for supporting breastfeeding, unlike Australian universities, where this appears to be a routine matter. Recommendations 3. a That an assessment be made of breastfeeding provisions available at the University and that consideration be given to how they can be improved, consistent with ILO Convention 183. 3. b

That a policy on best practice be produced, including a description of the facilities to be provided.

3. c

That an information sheet be prepared and provided to advise prospective parents and women returning to work.

3. d

That a mini-fridge (or perhaps two), suitably identified, be purchased, which can then be transported to offices or staff rooms as required by women breastfeeding.

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3. e

That consideration be given to including an appropriate clause relating to breastfeeding in the applicable collective employment agreements. 4. Good quality and affordable childcare facilities are a priority for women returning to work. It is now a matter of some urgency that the Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres should proceed and address matters such as opening hours, childcare facilities at Tamaki and longer-term plans for childcare centres. The issues raised by participants relating to expenses could be ameliorated if it were possible to deduct childcare fees before taxation as is proposed by Westpac, New Zealand. Recommendations 4. a That the Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres be progressed to attend to the childcare issues raised in this (and former) projects. It would be expected that the review would cover the following matters: ƒ Opening and closing hours’ taking into account lecture times; ƒ Expenses; ƒ Capacity, including long-term, for student/staff needs; ƒ Age at which babies are accepted into childcare; and ƒ Provision of facilities at Tamaki. 4. b

That the feasibility of deducting childcare fees from parents’ and caregivers’ salaries before tax be explored.

4. c

That the University childcare centres explore the uptake of the Government 20 hours of free care for three and four year olds on the proviso that such uptake does not disadvantage other users of the childcare centres.

5. Parking problems were frequently mentioned as a barrier to returning to work as well as a problem for women in the later stages of pregnancy. Between the beginning of this project and its completion, the opening of a new parking building has meant long waiting lists for parking permits have been dispensed with, but this has been accompanied by an increase in fees. The ability to reduce fees may be beyond the scope of this project but, if conveniently located designated parking spaces for parents and caregivers with children in University Childcare Centres were made available 9 am-3 pm, it would avoid the problem of staff finding no spaces left after they have dropped their children off. Recommendations 5. a That selected parking spaces in the most convenient locations be reserved for parents with children in childcare centres 9 am3 pm. 5. b

That consideration be given to allocating a selected parking space in the most convenient location for women in the last three months of pregnancy. This may be through more flexible use of the parking permits available for staff with family responsibilities or through temporarily reserved spaces.

6. Flexible work arrangements are a significant factor in supporting women returning to work and indeed all staff with family responsibilities. A wide range of options is possible in a supportive climate.

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Recommendation 6. That a copy of the EEO policy on Flexible Work Arrangements be provided to all staff applying for Parental Leave and that support for managers to respond positively and creatively to requests for flexible work arrangements be provided. 7. It is of concern that women typically responded to the question about career advancement with comments to the effect that they could not contemplate career progression at that time. While this is understandable, the longer term impact, especially if women take subsequent leave periods, can seriously impede career development. Ensuring that the specifications of grants and awards such as those for doctoral completion, as well as employment processes, do not indirectly disadvantage women who have taken time out for parental leave, or worked part-time, deserves consideration. It appears that grants, awards and, especially, post-doctoral fellowships in Australian universities are commonly tailored to cater for women who have taken leave, or are tagged for women returning to work (see page 21). It is noticeable, too, that specific funding for women returning to work in the areas of engineering, science and technology is provided for a wide range of purposes in Australian universities (see page 21). Comments by participants indicated that, even when there were provisions relating to grants for taking for taking parental leave into account, they were unaware they existed. Recommendations 7. a That grants and awards provided by and/or administered by The University of Auckland be audited to ensure their provisions do not directly or indirectly disadvantage women who have taken parental leave. 7. b

That consideration be given to providing research-assistance funding, either through an internal grant or through seeking external funding to support women returning to work in disciplines where they are under-represented.

7. c

That an information sheet on research funding, scholarships and awards for women be produced. It would include information on funding which takes periods of parental leave into account and funding which is tagged for women.

8. Information gathered from the focus groups and questionnaires indicated that there was some interest, especially from general-staff women, in part-time and/or temporary employment while on parental leave. The proposition may be more attractive to women who are on extended unpaid leave than to those who were on University or Government paid leave, although this was not tested in the project. Recommendation 8. That a database of staff on parental leave who are interested in part-time and temporary work be collated and, when these vacancies arise, the staff on this database be automatically notified by email. 9. The health and well-being of pregnant women and women returning to work must be of uppermost concern. Physical exhaustion was frequently mentioned as a barrier to morale and performance. Participants in a focus group agreed that a ‘reclining armchair’ would be an ideal piece of furniture to have on loan. This may be a very practical alternative when designated ‘rest rooms’ are not available.

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Recommendation 9. That an ’endowed chair’ (reclining armchair on casters) be provided to enable pregnant women and women returning to work to rest. 10. A number of the issues identified in the 2005 Review of Paid Parental Leave remained as barriers in 2006. In particular, some academic women reported that their teaching load was doubled when they returned to work. General-staff women reported being overloaded with work in their final weeks before taking leave and then feeling pressured to return earlier than they intended. Some women in both groups reported feeling undermined by negative attitudes and a resistance to flexibility. A response to the 2005 review was to provide more information for staff. It may be necessary to focus future resources on managers and heads of department to assist their management of staff taking parental leave. Recommendation 10. a That a fact sheet be produced for managers to assist them in responding appropriately to staff requests for parental leave. This fact sheet will include information such as: ƒ Legal requirements; ƒ University policies; ƒ How to create a supportive climate for pregnant women, women returning to work, women breastfeeding; and ƒ Guidelines for covering work for both academic and general staff. 10. b That an appropriate session on the University’s policies around parental leave, support for breastfeeding mothers and women returning to work be included in professional development and training for managers and heads of department. 11. Effective implementation of these recommendations should have a significant impact on the employment conditions of women returning to work. An interim progress report six months after commencement of the project and a full report on achievements twelve months after commencement would be appropriate. It would be expected that a follow–up project in the future would indicate higher levels of satisfaction in the provisions available for women returning to work. Recommendation 11. That, following initial six and twelve-month progress reports, this project be repeated in three to five years time to evaluate advances in support provided to women returning to work.

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3.0

Background

Labour Force In 1971, women’s labour-force participation rate was less than half that of men (39% compared to 82%). Thirty-five years later, in 2005, 60.9% of women were in the labour force compared to 74.8% of men (Statistics New Zealand). Currently, one in three mothers do not come back to the workforce after having children when their children are young. This is partly attributed to the lack of flexibility available to them in workplaces. (National Equal Opportunities Network ‘Why be a good employer’ 2006). The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, highlighted the need to increase women’s workforce participation in her February 2005 opening address to Parliament. She stated that ’While overall New Zealand’s labour force participation rates are high, coming in seventh in the OECD in 2003, our women’s rate lags – and in particular sits below the OECD average for women aged 25 – 34’. Government initiatives to assist women’s participation include paid parental leave, child and out-of-school care, flexible working arrangements, progressing opportunities for work-life balance and action to address pay-equity issues in the public sector. (Helen Clark, Statement to Parliament, 1 February 2005). The importance of choice in these initiatives including staying at home or working full or part-time, was highlighted in the Government’s ten-year action plan to improve caring and employment choices available to parents and carers, Choices for Living, Caring and Working August 2006. The action plan encourages employers in …identifying options to assist parents and carers return to work after periods of full-time care, including through career advice, information and guidance, which may include job search assistance, training and job placement. (p 21) Unemployment in New Zealand is currently around 3.7%, the second-lowest on record and the second-lowest in the OECD, and is contributing to increased pressure to retain skilled workers. ILO Convention 183 Maternity Protection Convention In June 2000, the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation adopted the Maternity Protection Convention and its associated Recommendation 191 setting out the internationally recognised minimum standards that should apply in any workplace in order to promote equality of all women in the workplace and the health and safety of the mother and child. The New Zealand Government voted in support of the adoption of this Convention and is reviewing domestic law for compatibility. The Convention includes the ’right to one or more daily breaks or a reduction of hours of work to breastfeed her child’ and that such breaks ’shall be counted as working time and remunerated accordingly’. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, in marking World Breastfeeding Week 2006, noted that providing a supportive working environment, including provisions enabling mothers to breastfeed at work and family-friendly workplaces were critical to retaining staff. Previous University of Auckland Studies The University of Auckland has conducted two related projects, the Review of Paid Parental Leave 2005 and the Work-Life and Family Responsibilities Survey 2005. Matters connected with returning to work were raised in both reviews. Changes since these projects have taken place include allowing eligible parents to receive both

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Government and University Paid Parental Leave, greater flexibility in the time of taking parental leave, production of a booklet called Parental Leave Guide for Staff and compilation of an information pack on Work, Life and Family Resources for distribution in faculties and service divisions. A Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres to be conducted through Student Administration has also been agreed to. Women Returning to Work Project The Women Returning to Work Project investigates similar, but more specific, issues on the experiences of women in the time immediately following re-entering the workplace.

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4.0

The Project

The Association of University Staff of New Zealand, the Department of Human Resources and the Equal Opportunities Office of The University of Auckland, working in partnership, sought to discover if there are barriers to women returning to work from parental leave and, if so, to identify strategies to eliminate the barriers. The project aimed to explore, identify and report on issues relating to re-entering the workforce and re-establishing careers as a result of taking parental leave. The project also aimed to develop a strategic action plan to address the issues identified. In addition to the general aim of supporting all women returning to work, the strategies can assist women’s advancement to senior positions. Career breaks to have children may cause reduced potential for full participation in the workforce and limit career advancement. Other benefits of these strategies could be to enhance recruitment and retention, position The University of Auckland as a leading employer of women returning to work in a competitive labour market and achieve institutional strategic objectives to ‘create equal opportunities for all those of ability to succeed in a university of high international standing.’ Definition This study focuses on women staff at The University of Auckland who have taken leave following childbirth/adoption. It includes women who have taken paid and/or unpaid leave. Research Method Women who took parental leave between January 2000 and September 2005 were contacted by letter from Human Resources and the Association of University Staff and invited to participate in focus groups and/or fill in a written questionnaire. The women were divided into three groups: ƒ women currently on parental leave (38 on database); ƒ women who had parental leave in the last five years and returned to work (111 on data base); and ƒ women who had parental leave in the last five years and subsequently resigned (98 on data base). Reference groups of interested staff were invited to provide advice and the Association of University Staff held a meeting for interested women. Response Rate Of the women who were currently on parental leave, fourteen filled in questionnaires and four attended a focus group (47.3% of respondents); of those who had taken parental leave and returned to work 42 filled in questionnaires and 26 attended focus groups (62% of respondents) .1 Only one person who had subsequently resigned after taking parental leave filled in a questionnaire.

1 Because of the confidential nature of the questionnaires it was not possible to identify women who had both attended a focus group and provided a questionnaire.

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5.0

Focus Groups

Focus groups were organised according to demand; two were held for academic staff, one for general staff and one for women who were currently on parental leave (with childcare provided). The key questions which were asked were: ƒ In general, did you feel supported when you returned to work from parental leave? ƒ (Or for those yet to return) In general, did you feel supported through the process of applying for parental leave? ƒ What work arrangements do you think support women returning to work? ƒ Would you be interested in a service that matched relief/temporary work, of all kinds, at the University while you were on parental leave? Participants in the focus groups appreciated flexibility from managers/hods and support from colleagues. This included participation in a workplace culture where needs were understood and parents, especially as part-time employees, were affirmed. A wide range of issues were raised and common themes have been grouped below. Psychological Re-adjustment to Work. Psychological issues were frequently mentioned, such as feeling guilty at being a ‘bad mother’ and feeling guilty at being a ‘bad employee’. Coming back to work was more of a challenge than many had expected. The overall experience of having sleep deprivation, combined with competing priorities and a complete change of focus away from the baby and into having to re-establish oneself into a workplace which may have changed significantly since taking leave was very stressful. Feeling guilty all the time because not as efficient as before pregnancy – having to rely on other people’s leniency. Constant feelings of guilt and exhaustion. Being part of a network of women in similar circumstances and receiving both an ‘induction’ back into work and on-going information on developments would be appreciated. Encouraging a supportive climate for women working as well as caring for children and encouraging managers and staff to have a supportive attitude, especially in the early stages of returning to work, would greatly assist women. Breastfeeding Participants requested spaces and facilities for breastfeeding and expressing milk. Distance from workplaces to childcare centres could be a problem; this may apply in particular to women who worked on the City Campus but had babies at the Grafton Childcare Centre. Breastfeeding was valued by participants to aid immunity and avoid illness. Managing time for breastfeeding was another issue and supportive managers were much appreciated. Childcare The expense of childcare and the difficulty of bridging the time between parental leave finishing and the age at which childcare centres will accept babies were noted. The difficulties of the childcare centres closing before scheduled teaching was completed was also of concern. One participant noted that after-school care and holiday care for older children can become more of a barrier than pre-school care.

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The absence of facilities at Tamaki was identified by a number of respondents. This has been an on-going problem. It is urged that the wider issues relating to childcare be addressed in the forthcoming Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres at The University of Auckland. Parking Participants said that they had no choice but to bring their own cars to work in order to pick up and drop off children. Part-time staff felt disadvantaged at having to pay full parking fees on top of childcare fees. This was compounded when there were no parking spaces left by the time they had dropped off children. This would be alleviated if there were designated parking spaces for parents and caregivers with children in childcare centres. Academic Issues Issues which impacted on academic staff included condensing a full year’s teaching load into the period when the woman returns to work instead of providing leave from teaching during the year in which leave is taken. There was a general concern about parental leave not being taken into account when assessing research performance. This was seen as disadvantaging women in promotions processes. Participants also mentioned being disadvantaged in Marsden Fast Track research applications. It was suggested that a formula be developed for calculating the impact of parental leave on research productivity. One participant reported that, in German universities, one year was deducted for each child. An audit of grants awards and processes that could disadvantage parents was suggested. Rest Spaces The need for rest was frequently mentioned both for pregnant women and those newly returned to work. One reported that her manager allowed her to lie down on the sofa in his office. Two others said that they had to lock their office doors and lie on the floor if they needed rest. Women were embarrassed or inhibited about asking to be able to lie down, but suffered levels of exhaustion that made it difficult to remain at work. One solution suggested was the purchase (endowment) of an armchair that could be moved to where it was needed for several weeks at a time. Flexible Working Arrangements A range of issues relating to the need for flexible working arrangements was identified by participants. These included flexibility to work from home in certain circumstances; flexibility with timetabling of lectures, for example, avoiding timetabling lectures for women returning to work for both the first lecture in the morning and the last lecture in the evening; a more flexible approach to possibilities such as block-teaching; consideration given to times set for meetings; flexibility for returning part-time and gradually increasing hours; and flexibility in starting and finishing times. In some instances, women reported that individual managers showed great empathy and flexibility. Summary of Initiatives from Focus Groups to Support Returning to Work Temporary Work While on Leave Participants were asked if they would be interested in part-time work while they were on parental leave. This could include the compilation of a database of staff on parental leave who were interested in part-time and temporary work and, if these vacancies arose, the staff concerned could be notified. There was a clear distinction between the attitudes of academic and general staff. There was reasonable support from general staff who made comments such as:

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ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Temporary work could allow women to stay at home longer; Working from home would be ideal, including casual weekend work; It could be a helpful way of keeping in touch by casual (weekend) work from one’s own department; and It would allow gradual transition to full-time work.

Most academic staff were less supportive. They said that they preferred to use spare time to advance their own research. It would be preferable to return and teach their own courses than to take on temporary relief teaching for other staff if it required preparation and contact time. However, there was some interest in non-contact work such as marking and editing, especially if the work could be delivered to the women’s home. The disadvantages would be: ƒ Finding temporary childcare and parking; ƒ There may be legal issues if the employment could jeopardise parental leave payments; ƒ Most women were not attracted to the idea of having to learn new skills for temporary work when they were also having to adjust to many other changes; and ƒ If it involved working at home there could be issues related to payment for expenses, e.g. broadband etc. Overall, academic and general staff had some different experiences to report. As noted in The University of Auckland Review of Paid Parental Leave 2005, academic staff had more opportunities for flexibility but greater obligations for working outside of conventional hours. Association of University Staff Reference Group AUS hosted a meeting for members interested in forming a reference group to support the project. A number of issues were raised at that meeting: ƒ Suggestion to have ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’, women who can be available to give advice about coping with work during pregnancy and returning after leave; ƒ Childcare costs to be included as legitimate expense claim for research and study leave; ƒ Encouragement for men to use parental leave to support partners and children; ƒ Information on options to be available, e.g. taking leave in three week blocks rather than all at once; and ƒ Issues surrounding lectures finishing at 5pm (later, for student queries) and crèche closing times.

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6.0

Responses to the Questionnaire

Sample A total of 57 women filled in questionnaires. The sample of women who took parental leave in the last five years would not necessarily be expected to be representative of the women staff as a whole. For example, women above senior lecturer were underrepresented, which may signify that women at associate professor and above will have had children earlier in their careers. This notwithstanding, there appeared to be a relatively even distribution of positions, location and ethnicity. Thirty of the women were general staff and 27 academic. The majority, 72%, were Pakeha/European, 9% were Maori, 7% Asian and 2% Pacific. Respondents were librarians, technicians, managers, administrators, tutors, lecturers, senior lecturers and one associate professor. The highest proportion were administrators (25%) followed by senior lecturers (21%). The majority, 72%, were drawn from the City Campus, 14% were from the Grafton Campus, 7% from the Tamaki Campus and 5% from the Epsom Campus. Most of the women had one or two children (1.4 average). The majority of children, 62%, were under two years and a further 25% were under five years, which is predictable given the sample. All except one respondent had either support from a partner or family and, in addition to this, 18% received support from an ‘other’ source, 14% were supported by friends and 4% by neighbours. One year was considered the most desirable length of time to be home with a baby by 74% of the sample, 20% preferred two years at home and the remainder preferred five years. The respondents were evenly split, irrespective of whether they were general or academic staff, between those who preferred full-time and those who favoured parttime employment on return to work. The hours favoured by those who preferred part-time employment varied widely from four to 30 hours. Barriers and Support Of the group who had not yet returned to work, nine (64%) expected to face barriers on their return (four general and five academic staff). The most common concerns were finding suitable childcare followed by managing breastfeeding, working evenings or overtime hours, dealing with children’s illnesses, parking and negotiating rush-hour traffic while travelling to and from day care. The group who had returned to work were asked if they had encountered barriers which had prevented them from returning to work when they wanted to, working the hours they wanted to or advancing in their careers. Overall, 75% reported that they had experienced some form of barrier. These ranged from financial barriers, which the respondents described as ’self imposed’, to reduced career-advancement opportunities. It was of concern that some women were unable to work part-time on their return to work. There may be some roles which cannot be offered less than full-time but managers are expected to be flexible in their assessment of positions. Interestingly enough though it, [return to work] wasn’t back to my original department because they decided that they didn’t have any part-time - 15 -


positions available. They were only required to offer me my previous position, and I wasn’t prepared to go back to work full-time when I had a small child. This experience was contrasted by another respondent. I found my department very supportive when I returned to work. I was able to come back part- time and choose hours of work that suited me. My dept have even offered to pay for childcare when they wanted me to attend meetings outside my normal work hours. Some returned to work earlier than they chose to because they were needed and noted that repeated requests for assistance ’just this once’ eroded leave time. Problems with childcare arrangements were mentioned, such as having insufficient time to find suitable day care and that the hours that University facilities were open did not always fit in with lectures. There are no childcare facilities on Tamaki campus – this makes it hard and more expensive for staff with babies/young children returning to work. Meetings starting at 8 am were difficult for women breastfeeding who had broken sleep and meetings or events scheduled outside of normal working hours often posed particular problems. Breast-feeding support is of primary importance. The health and well-being of my children is obviously my highest priority, and breast-feeding is an essential component for this to be achieved. This is best achieved by being able to have baby in a crèche nearby (to enable direct feeding) or having a facility to express in private, with a sink for washing, a bench for sterilizing and fridge for storage. I was allotted space in the building but it was not appropriate (not clean, old office space, no hand washing space or fridge. I had to keep my milk in the common fridge with everyone’s lunches). The space was used by others for other purposes and so was not private. In relation to the question relating to career advancement, some said that advancement was not their priority in their current circumstances. I’m not even thinking about career at the moment – maybe in a couple of years. Two commented that having children reduced their opportunities for out-of-hours workshops and functions. Particular issues for women on fixed-term agreements, such as having inflexible deadlines and fears of agreements not being renewed if they took parental leave, were noted. Several academic women reported on the difficulties of maintaining research momentum in a PBRF environment. Even only taking the minimum amount of time off (14 wks for each child), I find that it takes about 1 year to get back up to speed fully as you spend so much time in ’catch-up’ mode. Therefore my research and output has been impacted severely, resulting in decreased publications. There were a number of comments about negative attitudes from work colleagues. These ranged from perceptions that part-time employees were not committed to the organisation to feelings of resentment towards women taking parental leave and ‘hostile’ attitudes to children in the workplace. There needs to be an awareness of the needs of parents with school age children. Managing school and work is VERY difficult.

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The University seems stand-offish about staff parenting. I don’t get a warm friendly feeling about being a family person with obligations outside work. Awareness of existing support available to women returning to work was relatively low. Notwithstanding this response rate, a number of the participants spoke highly of the support they had received. Overall I found the University helpful in returning to work after parental leave. Knowledge about support and resources was identified as an issue both for managers and the women concerned. It seems that all this information is available but it is not widely known not only by the staff taking the leave but by the managers as well. And even though the University supports women returning to work it is not always the case at faculty level. Feel that more can be done to make both sides aware of the University’s point. Summary of Initiatives to Support Return to Work from Questionnaires In response to the question of what they would consider helpful, the respondents selected the following provisions. Breastfeeding was clearly a priority. Car parking was mentioned but there were major changes to availability of spaces shortly before the time of the questionnaire. It is uncertain whether or not the same parking issues will be as relevant in 2007. Facilities Which Would Support Return to Work Facility Parents room Breastfeeding facilities and support Fridge (for storing milk) Private space Paid breaks Parking

Number of Responses 5 10 6 1 5 4

Car parking/vehicle access is also very important. Public transport is not child friendly, so parents are forced to use cars even if they’d prefer to use other modes of transport. Car parking near their work or the baby’s crèche is essential, and perhaps would be good if it could be subsidized (especially next year when fees go up), since mothers using a crèche are already paying in excess of $50/day for child care so they can return to work. Summary of suggestions for work arrangements which would be of assistance for women returning to work included: ƒ Advice on what to do if a child is ill and I have to take time off work (e.g. if new parents can co-ordinate courses so they have someone to ‘cover’ them); ƒ Suggested that copies of The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford be available for staff. (Other titles could also be recommended by staff at the childcare centres); ƒ Financial support for childcare; ƒ Flexible or reduced hours, such as being able to arrive fifteen minutes late and/or go fifteen minutes early to collect baby and avoid the traffic; ƒ Free parking for parents whose children attend University childcare centres; ƒ Working from home; and - 17 -


ƒ

Job sharing.

I was always made to feel guilty when I had to take sick leave to look after baby. Would be great if managers could agree that working from home could be a possibility. Job share is fantastic. I struck some resistance but worked hard to sell it. I was also very determined to make it work and the other person hired to do the other ½ of the job share is excellent. It is fantastic and working well. Temporary Work While on Leave In response to the question about interest in temporary work, opinions were evenly divided between those who would be interested in some work while on parental leave and those who were not interested. However, as experienced in the focus groups, the majority of those interested were general staff (twelve of the sixteen who were interested were general staff). Preferred temporary work included basic admin tasks such as data-entry, letter-folding, envelope-stuffing, (some emphasised ‘nothing stressful’), library work, marking and editorial work. Networking Meetings The outstanding majority, 84%, were interested in receiving invitations to occasional lunchtime meetings to meet other women who had returned from parental leave and in having updates on relevant policies and ‘family friendly’ information. Those who declined noted that they were interested but they would not have time to attend. One suggested that a newsletter be emailed to those who were unable to attend. Other Suggestions One participant suggested holding pre-parental leave courses with people who have returned to work as presenters and EEO staff who could talk about facilities available and issues to be aware of in returning to work. These could be held every six months to cater for staff who are pregnant and thinking about a family.

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7.0

Related Research

EEO Trust Survey on Parenting and Paid Work 2005 The EEO Trust’s on-line survey on Parenting and Paid Work 2005 was completed by 4,475 New Zealand parents. The Executive Summary noted that: …. the one thing that workplaces could do to help parents be effective at work and at home is to provide some flexibility around working hours. This could include flexible starting and finishing times, or occasional time off during the day to see to family matters like medical appointments or school activities…… Affordable, quality, conveniently located childcare is also important to working parents, with a number of respondents saying how helpful it would be to have childcare facilities located close to work. They also want breastfeeding rooms and breast-milk storage facilities, special leave provisions so parents can care for sick children or attend school and sporting activities and they want to be able to take work home occasionally. Review of Parental Leave at The University of Auckland 2005 The Review of Paid Parental Leave noted clear distinctions between academic and general staff experiences of parental leave. General staff had more opportunity for their duties to be covered in their absence, while academic staff ‘flexibility’ resulted in duties often being condensed more than reduced. Academics tended to continue to participate in the workplace during parental leave. Flexible employment options and good childcare facilities were highly desirable. There was a demand for simple clear information on parental leave. Following the Review and advice from AUS, there were changes in policies to allow eligible parents to receive both Government and University Paid Parental Leave, greater flexibility in when leave was taken and production of a booklet called Parental Leave Guide for Staff. Survey of Work, Life and Family Responsibilities at The University of Auckland 2005 Survey findings: ƒ The majority of staff (63%) rated their work-life balance as satisfactory or above. This is consistent with the findings of the Ministry of Social Development’s Social Wellbeing Survey 2004 which rated 62% of New Zealanders as being ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their work/life balance. ƒ Slightly less than half the sample (45%) believed that the University allowed for an appropriate work-life and family balance ‘most of the time’. ƒ Half of the respondents had not required flexibility to accommodate their responsibilities but, of those who did have special needs, the majority (86%) had them accommodated. Making flexible work options available to all staff was regarded as a highly effective means of assisting work-life balance and supporting staff with family responsibilities. Reducing excessive workloads was the second most frequently made suggestion for supporting work-life balance. In response to the request for suggestions on how the organisation could provide more support for staff with family responsibilities, some said that their needs were already well catered for. The majority of suggestions for improvements related to more flexible employment, promoting a ‘family friendly’ workplace culture, the need for improved childcare facilities, after-school care and holiday programmes and

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better parking arrangements for staff with children. Twenty-two of the respondents mentioned the importance of training, guidelines and awareness of family policies. Although information on Work, Life and Family Responsibilities was available on the University’s website, respondents suggested that hard copies were more easily disseminated. An outcome of the Review was to produce an information pack of resources pertaining to Work, Life and Family and the distribution of copies in faculties and service divisions. Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata The Right to Breastfeed The Human Rights Commission produced an extensive paper in February 2005 which provides a background and further thinking on some of the human-rights considerations associated with breastfeeding. It covers aspects of international human rights, overseas legislation and jurisprudence, breastfeeding rights in New Zealand and principles on the right to breastfeed. The principles have been developed to help ensure that the internationally recognised right to breastfeed is given strong and meaningful effect in New Zealand. They propose that the principles be used by a range of decision making bodies to protect and extend the right to breastfeed so as to ensure that families, communities and societies can safely enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding. Copies of this document can be accessed through the Human Rights Commission website www.hrc.org.nz. Overseas Research The Athena Project The Athena Project was launched in 1999 and aims to advance the position of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) in higher education (HE) and to achieve a significant increase in the number of women recruited to top posts. The project works in partnership with UK universities, research organisations and SET professional and learned societies. Athena asks for a commitment from senior management to any Athena initiative in which they participate. Their commitment raises awareness of the issue of women’s career progression and ensures a high profile for Athena’s activities. Most of the project’s initiatives have improved practices and procedures; some have begun to change the culture of SET and HE.2 In 2007, the Athena Project will publish its findings on women returning to work after career breaks, the majority having been on maternity leave. The research will focus on the particular problems of women returning to work in the sciences, where career breaks are very problematic when the speed of developments in their fields is so fast. Preliminary findings reported by Caroline Fox indicate that: The availability of good childcare is the priority for women in achieving a successful transition back to work after maternity leave. Next most important is flexible working, while for the relatively few men in the survey who took a career break, keeping in touch while they were away was their number one concern. 3

2 3

http://www.athenaproject.org.uk/aboutAthena.htm Harriet Swain, ‘Helping the mummies return’, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 2007 pp 18-19.

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8.0

International and Local Strategies to Assist Women Returning to Work

The following information on provisions which would assist women returning to work has been obtained from university websites. Most strategies which would support returning to work in overseas universities are focused on academic women in science, technology and engineering. This is because of the particular challenges faced by women returning after career breaks to fastpaced disciplines and the shortage of women in these fields. International Universities The University of Bristol Women Returners Scheme is for lecturers, senior lecturers and professors in engineering, science and medical and veterinary sciences. It enables women to have six months protected research time with no teaching or administrative duties when they return to work from maternity leave. Cambridge University has a formula for assessing the ‘academic age’ of a candidate which subtracts parental leave and some other forms of career break. The University of Nottingham offers two-year postdoctoral fellowships to women engineers and scientists. The scheme is designed to offer support and flexibility to women returning from maternity leave. Candidates must have had no more than four years’ full-time postdoctoral experience since submitting a PhD, but carer breaks such as maternity leave can be discounted and part-time is considered on a pro-rata basis. The fellowship allows women to convert from full to part–time appointments (and back again) to fit in with family responsibilities. It is possible to claim some funding for family support, such as childcare costs during conference leave. Australian universities offer similar fellowships. The University of Queensland offers three postdoctoral research fellowships open to women with a PhD or equivalent qualification whose academic careers have been interrupted, delayed or otherwise constrained by family or other responsibilities. According to a survey conducted by the University of Queensland’s Equity Office, the Universities of Melbourne, Ballarat, Wollongong, Western Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Flinders and Queensland, all offer various forms of funding or bonuses to academic women returning to work. The terms attached to this funding varies from a very broad purpose, which can include childcare fees, to more specific purposes of conference attendance and teaching buy-out to enable women to focus on research. Monash University provides its renowned $15,000 Populate and Publish Grant to women returning from maternity leave and it can be used to hire a research assistant to ensure research projects continue and to provide supervision for the academic’s postgraduate students. Sydney University of Technology appears to be the only university with information on its website offering funding ($4,000) available to both general and academic staff for assistance with development needs on return to work. Harvard University’s widely publicised expenditure of $US 7.5 million on work-life balance initiatives included ‘the development of additional child care capacity on and near campus; a 53 percent increase in child-care scholarships for faculty and staff, which will make over $2 million available each year; a 50 percent increase in annual operating support for the six Harvard-affiliated child-care centres; and special

- 21 -


funding to support the research and professional travel of junior faculty with family responsibilities’.4 It appears that most Australian universities have policies on breastfeeding. The University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, Monash University, the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, the University of Southern Queensland, Ballarat University, the Australian Catholic University and Charles Sturt University all have policies accessible on the internet. New Zealand Universities The University of Waikato covers support for breastfeeding within its Equal Opportunity Policy. Massey University advertises a parent room available in its childcare centre on Turitea Campus as a facility for breastfeeding and expressing milk. AUT publicises its medical centres as providing facilities for women breastfeeding while on campus.

4 ‘Harvard releases inaugural report from newly created Office for Faculty Development and Diversity’, Harvard University Gazette, 13 June 2006.

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9.0

Conclusions

The general findings of this project are consistent with related surveys and reviews which have highlighted the importance of a ‘family friendly’ culture, affordable quality childcare, breastfeeding facilities and flexible work arrangements. One of the benefits of this project is that it has highlighted specific strategies for improved services at The University of Auckland. Some of the recommendations also have potential national implications to support enhanced policies and practice for women returning to work after taking parental leave throughout the university sector. The focus groups and questionnaires produced very similar findings. The nature of the questionnaire enabled answers to be quantified. 1. A number of suggestions related to the importance of disseminating information for women about to take leave, on leave and when they return to work. Networking opportunities for women in similar circumstances would provide further support. The psychological impact of returning to work cannot be under-estimated. Many women found it an emotional experience of isolation, confusion and low morale through anxieties that they were either not doing enough for their children or not performing highly enough in the workplace. The combination of information-sharing and networking would be very beneficial in smoothing this period of transition. Recommendations 1. a That ‘transition to returning to work’ sessions be organised at the departmental level for all women who have taken three or more months’ parental leave. 1. b That quarterly lunchtime meetings be held for women who have returned to work to provide information on relevant topics and provide opportunities for networking. 1. c That information disseminated in these meetings be recorded in a newsletter which will be sent to all interested staff currently on parental leave, and to staff who have returned, but are unable to attend the meetings. 2. Given that information and support is not always immediately available in departments, one suggestion from a reference group was that a number of women volunteers with experience of returning to work in the University after childbirth/adoption could be provided with appropriate training and resources to act as ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ (similar to the Mediator’s ‘Resolve Network’) providing advice and support to other women. Once approved, they could attend meetings and receive relevant updates of policy and legislation. Recommendation 2. That consideration be given to appointing voluntary ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ accessible to staff in faculties and service divisions and who could provide advice and support to women returning to work. 3. Frequent mention was made of the need for facilities to breastfeed and express milk. Women with babies in University childcare centres are able to use those facilities if they are conveniently located near to the women’s workplaces. However, this is not always possible and some babies will be looked after by caregivers off campus, especially if they are too young for enrolment in a University

- 23 -


facility. Women who need to express milk have particular needs for privacy and appropriate space. Arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis, but there is no overall policy or strategy for supporting breastfeeding, unlike Australian universities where this appears to be a routine matter. There is not yet any specific law in New Zealand to support the right to breast- feed; however the Human Rights Act and the Employment Relations Act 2000 contain antidiscrimination provisions, such as that covering proven disadvantageous treatment based on direct or indirect sex discrimination, which apply to breastfeeding women. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the New Zealand Government supported the adoption of ILO Maternity Protection Convention 183 and is currently reviewing domestic law to comply with this. There needs to be greater consideration given to supporting women who are breastfeeding and/or need to express milk. Facilities available need to be clarified and a policy developed. An example of appropriate matters to include could be as follows: Policy on Breastfeeding The employer recognises the importance of promoting equality of women in the workforce and the health and safety of the mother and child. All managers and staff are encouraged to take a positive and supportive attitude to employees returning to work and breastfeeding. Wherever possible, allow appropriate flexibility in working hours or regular breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed or to express milk. Such breaks shall be counted as working time and remunerated accordingly Wherever possible and as necessary, make available rest areas, storage space and a dedicated refrigerator for the use of breastfeeding employees. Information will be made available about breastfeeding provisions. Recommendations 3. a That an assessment be made of breastfeeding provisions available at the University and that consideration be given to how they can be improved, consistent with ILO Convention 183. 3. b That a policy on best practice be produced, including a description of the facilities to be provided. 3. c That an information sheet be prepared and provided to advise prospective parents and women returning to work. 3. d That a mini-fridge (or perhaps two), suitably identified, be purchased and able to be transported to offices or staff rooms as required by women breastfeeding. 3. e That consideration be given to including an appropriate clause relating to breastfeeding in the applicable collective employment agreements.

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4. Suitable childcare arrangements are regarded as essential to enable returning to work and were noted by Caroline Fox of the Athena project (p20) as the greatest priority for women making this transition. It is now a matter of some urgency that the proposed Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres should proceed and address matters such as opening hours, childcare facilities at Tamaki and longerterm plans for childcare centres. In the meantime, the issues raised by participants relating to expenses could be ameliorated if it were possible to deduct childcare fees before taxation. The feasibility of this may depend on whether or not it would attract fringe-benefit tax. We note that this measure has recently been proposed by Westpac (New Zealand) as one of its steps to improve childcare provision in order to retain staff in major centres.5 Recommendations 4. a That the Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres be progressed to attend to the childcare issues raised in this (and former) projects. It would be expected that the review would cover the following matters: ƒ Opening and closing hours’ taking into account lecture times; ƒ Expenses; ƒ Capacity, including long-term, for student/staff needs; ƒ Age at which babies are accepted into childcare; and ƒ Provision of facilities at Tamaki. 4. b That the feasibility of deducting childcare fees from parents’ and caregivers’ salaries before tax be explored. 4. c That the University childcare centres explore the uptake of the Government 20 hours of free care for three and four year olds on the proviso that such uptake does not disadvantage other users of the childcare centre. 5. Parking problems were frequently mentioned as a barrier to returning to work. Between the beginning of this project and its completion, parking facilities changed significantly at The University of Auckland. The opening of a new parking building has meant long waiting lists for parking permits have been dispensed with, but this has been accompanied by an increase in fees. The ability to reduce fees may be beyond the scope of this project but, if designated parking spaces for parents and caregivers with children in University Childcare centres were made available 9 am- 3 pm, it would avoid the problem of staff finding no spaces left after they have dropped their children off. Recommendations 5. a That selected parking spaces in the most convenient locations be reserved for parents with children in childcare centres 9 am-3 pm. 5. b

5

That consideration be given to allocating a selected parking space in the most convenient location for women in the last three months of pregnancy. This may be through more flexible use of the parking permits available for staff with family responsibilities or through temporarily reserved spaces.

Keeping up with the children, Donna McIntyre, January 24 2007 ppH3, NZ Herald.

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6. The need for and importance of a range of flexible working arrangements was highlighted in both the focus groups and the questionnaires. As mentioned above, earlier research has also indicated that making flexible work options available to all staff was regarded as a highly effective means of assisting work-life balance and supporting staff with family responsibilities. The University of Auckland has an EEO policy, Flexible Work Arrangements, which provides a sound basis for the development of flexible arrangements. It appears that more creative approaches to providing flexible arrangements would have potential benefits in supporting both academic and general staff women returning to work. At the national level, Parliament is currently considering a Bill to legislate for the right to request flexible working arrangements similar to provisions enacted in the United Kingdom. Recommendation 6. That a copy of the policy on Flexible Work Arrangements be provided to all staff applying for Parental Leave and that support for managers to respond positively and creatively to requests for flexible work arrangements be provided. 7. It is of concern that women typically responded to the question about career advancement with comments to the effect that they could not contemplate career progression at that time. While this is understandable, the longer-term impact, especially if women take subsequent leave periods, can seriously impede career development. (One informant reported that it had taken her ten years to regain her career trajectory after a period out of academia attending to family responsibilities). There are Women in Leadership Programmes in place which provide seminars and mentoring and can provide some support to career aspirations for new mothers, but these alone will not satisfy all women’s needs. Ensuring the specifications of grants and awards such as for doctoral completion, as well as employment processes, do not indirectly disadvantage women who have taken time out for parental leave, or worked part-time, deserves consideration. It appears that grants, awards and, especially, postdoctoral fellowships in Australian universities are commonly tailored to cater for women who have taken leave, or are tagged for women returning to work (see page 21). It is noticeable, too, that funding for women returning to work in the areas of engineering, science and technology is provided for a wide range of purposes in Australian universities (see page 21). There appeared to be misinformation about some of the regulations relating to research funding. Although some participants believed the Marsden Fast Start did not take time spent on parental leave into account, the guidelines for panel members for the ‘Fast-Start Initiative’ grants state that ’time spent on parental leave or in nonresearch related employment is excluded from the yearly count of research experience’. Recommendations 7. a That grants and awards provided by and/or administered by The University of Auckland be audited to ensure their provisions do not directly or indirectly disadvantage women who have taken parental leave. 7. b

That consideration be given to providing research-assistance funding, either through an internal grant or through seeking external funding to support women returning to work in disciplines where they are under-represented.

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7. c

That an information sheet on research funding, scholarships and awards for women be produced. It would include information on funding which takes periods of parental leave into account and funding which is tagged for women.

8. Information gathered from the focus groups and questionnaires indicated that there was some interest in part-time employment while on parental leave. Attitudes were mixed with more general staff than academic attracted to the idea. The proposition may be more attractive to women who are on extended un-paid leave than to those who were on University or Government paid leave, although this was not tested in the project. Recommendation 8. That a database of staff on parental leave who are interested in part-time and temporary work be collated and, when these vacancies arise, the staff on this database be automatically notified by email. 9. The health and well-being of pregnant women and women returning to work must be of uppermost concern. Physical exhaustion was frequently mentioned as a barrier to morale and performance. In a few circumstances, women had rest space handy or sofas and comfortable chairs. Others were inhibited or embarrassed at having to ask for space or time to lie down. Participants in a focus group agreed that a ‘reclining armchair’ would be an ideal piece of furniture to have on loan. If it was easily moved around to where it was needed for a period of weeks, it could be used to benefit a number of women. This may be a very practical alternative if no designated to ‘rest rooms’ are available. Recommendation 9. That an ’endowed chair’ (reclining armchair on casters) be provided to enable pregnant women and women returning to work to rest. 10. A number of the issues identified in the 2005 Review of Paid Parental Leave remained as barriers in 2006. In particular, academic women complained that, to compensate for their absence, their teaching load was sometimes doubled when they returned to work. General-staff women reported being overloaded with work in their final weeks before taking leave and then feeling pressured to return earlier than they intended. A response to the 2005 review was to provide more information for staff. It may be necessary to focus future resources on managers and heads of department to provide them with assistance in managing their staff taking parental leave. Recommendations 10. a That a fact sheet be produced for managers to assist them in responding appropriately to staff requests for parental leave. This fact sheet will include information such as: ƒ Legal requirements; ƒ University policies; ƒ How to create a supportive climate for pregnant women, women returning to work, women breastfeeding; and ƒ Guidelines for covering work for both academic and general staff.

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10. b

That an appropriate session on the University’s policies around parental leave, support for breastfeeding mothers and women returning to work be included in professional development and training for managers and heads of department.

11. Effective implementation of these recommendations should have a significant impact on the employment conditions of women returning to work. An interim progress report six months after commencement of the project and a full report on achievements twelve months after commencement would be appropriate. It would be expected that a follow–up project in the future would indicate higher levels of satisfaction in the provisions available for women returning to work. Recommendation 11. That, following initial six and twelve-month progress reports, this project be repeated in three to five years time to evaluate advances in support provided to women returning to work. April 2007

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10.0 Bibliography Choices for Living, Caring and Working: A ten year plan to improve the caring and employment choices available to parents and carers, Department of Labour, August 2006. ‘Harvard releases inaugural report from newly created Office Development and Diversity’, Harvard University Gazette, 13 June 2006

for

Faculty

McIntyre, D. ‘Keeping up with the children’, New Zealand Herald, January 24 2007, pH3 McPherson, M, Parenting and Paid Work, 2005, Survey, EEO Trust Review of Parental Leave at The University of Auckland, 2005 Social Wellbeing Survey 2004 Ministry of Social Development Swain, H. ‘Helping the mummies return’, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 2007, pp 18-19. The Right to Breastfeed Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, February 2005.

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Appendix: Recommendations 1. a

That ‘transition to returning to work’ sessions be organised at the departmental level for all women who have taken three or more months’ parental leave.

1. b

That quarterly lunchtime meetings be held for women who have returned to work to provide information on relevant topics and provide opportunities for networking.

1. c

That information disseminated in these meetings be recorded in a newsletter which will be sent to all interested staff currently on parental leave, and to staff who have returned, but are unable to attend the meetings.

2.

That consideration be given to appointing voluntary ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ accessible to staff in faculties and service divisions and who could provide advice and support to women returning to work.

3. a

That an assessment be made of breastfeeding provisions available at the University and that consideration be given to how they can be improved, consistent with ILO Convention 183.

3. b

That a policy on best practice be produced, including a description of the facilities to be provided.

3. c

That an information sheet be prepared and prospective parents and women returning to work.

3. d

That a mini-fridge (or perhaps two), suitably identified, be purchased and able to be transported to offices or staff rooms as required by women breastfeeding.

3. e

That consideration be given to including an appropriate clause relating to breastfeeding in the applicable collective employment agreements.

4. a

That the Strategic Review of Early Childhood Education Centres be progressed to attend to the childcare issues raised in this (and former) projects.

provided

to

advise

It would be expected that the review would cover the following matters: ƒ Opening and closing hours’ taking into account lecture times; ƒ Expenses; ƒ Capacity, including long-term, for student/staff needs; ƒ Age at which babies are accepted into childcare; and ƒ Provision of facilities at Tamaki. 4. b

That the feasibility of deducting childcare fees from parents’ and caregivers’ salaries before tax be explored.

4. c

That the University childcare centres explore the uptake of the Government 20 hours of free care for three and four year olds on the proviso that such uptake does not disadvantage other users of the childcare centre.

5. a

That selected parking spaces in the most convenient locations be reserved for parents with children in childcare centres 9 am-3 pm.

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5. b

That consideration be given to allocating a selected parking space in the most convenient location for women in the last three months of pregnancy. This may be through more flexible use of the parking permits available for staff with family responsibilities or through temporarily reserved spaces.

6.

That a copy of the policy on Flexible Work Arrangements be provided to all staff applying for Parental Leave and that support for managers to respond positively and creatively to requests for flexible work arrangements be provided.

7. a

That grants and awards provided by and/or administered by The University of Auckland be audited to ensure their provisions do not directly or indirectly disadvantage women who have taken parental leave.

7. b

That consideration be given to providing research-assistance funding, either through an internal grant or through seeking external funding to support women returning to work in disciplines where they are underrepresented.

7. c

That an information sheet on research funding, scholarships and awards for women be produced. It would include information on funding which takes periods of parental leave into account and funding which is tagged for women.

8.

That a database of staff on parental leave who are interested in parttime and temporary work be collated and, when these vacancies arise, the staff on this database are automatically notified by email.

9.

That an ’endowed chair’ (reclining armchair on casters) be provided to enable pregnant women and women returning to work to rest.

10. a

That a fact sheet be produced for managers to assist them in responding appropriately to staff requests for parental leave. This fact sheet will include information such as: ƒ Legal requirements; ƒ University policies; ƒ How to create a supportive climate for pregnant women, women returning to work, women breastfeeding; and ƒ Guidelines for covering work for both academic and general staff.

10. b That an appropriate session on the University’s policies around parental leave, support for breastfeeding mothers and women returning to work be included in professional development and training for managers and heads of department. 11.

That, following initial six and twelve-month progress reports, this project be repeated in three to five years time to evaluate advances in support provided to women returning to work.

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Women Returning to Work  

a joint project by the University of Auckland and the Association of University Staff analysing women’s experiences returning to work after...

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