Hiring the right candidate for parental leave

Posted by : Cara Armstrong on June 11, 2018 11:01 pm

As Winston Peters prepares to cover the Prime Minister’s parental leave, Asset Recruitment’s manager, Carmel Strange looks at the importance of employing quality staff on parental leave cover.

Next month, Winston Peters will step into the driving seat, but not as we have known him to do so before. This time, he’ll be acting Prime Minister while New Zealand’s leader, Jacinda Ardern is on parental leave.

Mr Peters, New Zealand’s deputy prime minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will become one of the thousands of employees covering a parental leave contract. In the year ending December 2017, more than 59,000 live births were recorded by StatsNZ and with the median age of mothers at 30, it is fair to say a significant number of these children were born to working parents.

All employees, male or female, are entitled to paid parental leave. The amount of leave an employee can have depends on the length of time they have worked for an organisation. The minimum requirement is 10 hours per week for six months. Anything less is considered on a case-by-case basis. At present, New Zealand allows for 18 weeks of paid parental leave, but the passing of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill last year means after 1 July 2018 parental leave will increase to 22 weeks. As of 1 July 2020, it will be 26 weeks.

While a staff member is on parental leave, employers must keep their job available should they wish to return. In the meantime, many businesses need to hire a candidate to cover the role.

Carmel Strange, manager of Waikato’s leading recruitment firm, Asset Recruitment, says companies must plan ahead to ensure they have a high calibre candidate for the role.

“Parental leave can be for up to a year, which is a significant amount of time for a staff member to be away from the workplace. Many organisations look for a candidate with the same skillset and experience to take on that parental leave contract.”

“Although a parental contract is temporary, at Asset Recruitment, when we are seeking a candidate for this type of contract we approach it as though we are hiring for a permanent role. We look for a candidate who will fit in to an organisation’s culture and will bring knowledge and experience, so they can get up to speed quickly.”

Carmel says another reason for Asset’s approach to finding the right candidate for the job is because in some instances employers will offer the individual covering a parental leave contract a permanent job.

“It can often be a win-win situation for both the employee on parental leave cover and the business,” says Carmel.

However, in Winston’s case this is unlikely. After all, we only need one Prime Minister, but there will be a vacancy for a fishing show’s frontman once Clarke Gayford becomes first dad!

This article was first published in the Waikato Business News, May 2018.

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