Hiring to fill a parental leave spot? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we went through the questions (and information) that you need to obtain from the departing employee before embarking on obtaining the replacement employee. Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge to proceed with planning for their absence, it’s important to turn your mind to communication.

Communication tips

Before you post a job ad or send an email out to the workforce letting them know that you’re hiring, it’s important that you first let the departing employee know about the job spec that you’ve come up with and alerting them to the soon-to-be published job ad and internal comms. This gives the employee one last time to provide any input and makes them feel a part of the process.

Then, you should think carefully about how you communicate this hire to the team. It’s important that you don’t do or say anything that could imply that the role may be ongoing, or that the departing employee may not be coming back. Simply advise the team that you’re seeking a replacement employee to fill a parental leave position and that the role will be on a fixed-term basis (and not an ongoing role). Also ask the team to give you any suggested ideas about people that may be suitable (you may just save recruitment costs that way!) and let them know who to speak to if they have any questions about the process or job. Again, good change management means including staff in a transparent and open way.

Your candidate shortlist

Once you’ve got a few good candidates, time-permitting you may like to share information about your selection with your departing employee and ask them for their feedback or views. Your short-list should be 3-6 people max. Start by giving them a call quick over the phone as this may help you weed out a few candidates without having to do face to face meetings. Then, schedule in your interviews and consider who is going to be on the interview panel. Will the departing employee be involved? Will you ask another member of the relevant team or a member of the Board? This will differ depending on the size of your organisation and the desired input shown by the departing employee.

Sample interview questions

Now you need to plan the questions. Here are some to start you off:

  • Are you aware that this role is a fixed-term replacement role only and will not be an ongoing position?
  • Why did this role appeal to you? [you should get a better sense as to why they’re only interested in a fixed-term position]
  • How do you think you could work with [departing employee] to make sure that there is a smooth transition in and out of the business? [this answer should tell you a lot about the candidates ability and desire to work cooperatively and not in competition with the departing employee]
  • What questions do you have for us and / or [departing employee] about the role or expectations during their absence?
  • Do you have flexibility if the [departing employee] decides to return earlier than planned? [this gives you the ability to explain to the candidate that you will include a notice provision in their contract so that you can give them a certain amount of notice if the departing employee wants to return early]

After all of your interviews, you should make careful file notes and consider the recorded Q&As to make an even shorter list of candidates (you should be down to 1-2 now).

You should know now:

  •       If the candidate understands that the role is a fixed-term role only
  •       If the candidate is flexible with the end date
  •       If the candidate is prepared to work cooperatively with the departing employee to ensure that the job is done as well as possible
  •       How the candidate feels towards the departing employee
  •       If the candidate is going to be a good cultural fit with the team / business

What next? In Part 3 of this series we will examine how you should document the arrangement with the departing employee and the candidate, to protect the business from risk and liability.

How we can help your business

We can help your business with the following:

  • Help you through a discrimination, unfair dismissal or general protections (adverse action) claim
  • Help you implement or refuse flexible work arrangements in the best interests of the business and operational requirements
  • Draft fixed-term contracts for your maternity leave replacement
  • Draft a policy on flexible work to set parameters for employees and guidance for managers about how to handle flexible work practices in your business
  • Anti-discrimination, harassment and bullying training to fulfil your Work Health and Safety obligations and help your employees resolve things internally (to reduce the risk of a claim and minimise any harmful behaviour in your business)

Call us today to discuss your workplace needs on 03 9111 5660 or book a free 15-min chat here to talk with one of our solicitors.

This is general advice only. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. 

Published Jan 22, 2018

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