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Morrissey, Suzy
Williamson, Maria
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
Analytical Paper No. 18/01
New Zealand Government, The Treasury, Wellington
This research highlights some recent experiences of public sector employees returning to work from parental leave and summarises the parental leave policies in place across the public sector. The employees were either on leave or had returned in the past 12 months and were employed by public service and non-public service departments in the state sector. Forty-nine employees participated in focus groups in Wellington and Auckland or in phone interviews across the country. This qualitative research method was combined with a quantitative survey that was sent to human resources (HR) teams in public service departments and non-public service departments. Twenty-six out of 28 departments contacted participated in the survey. Participants' parental leave experiences were generally positive, but participants were still able to provide practical suggestions for improving the experience of taking parental leave. Before going on leave, employees found information hard to come by, and noted that managers and HR had varying levels of knowledge and policies and processes. Reflecting on the experiences they had while on leave, participants noted the level of communication between employer and employee, as well as access to performance and remuneration reviews, as areas of concern. They also noted a lack of information regarding agency-specific entitlements on return to work and expressed concerns over the options for flexible working. Participants observed a high degree of managerial autonomy in making decisions about flexible working, and noted that this could result in variation of opportunities for employees, even within agencies. HR policies were found to be varied across the sector. The result is that employees in different agencies may have different opportunities and financial outcomes even though they are all employed in the public sector. Consideration could be given to whether greater alignment of parental leave policies would be more equitable for public sector staff. Opportunities for future research include extending the same enquiries to private sector employers.
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Document Type: 
Research Report

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