12 November 2019
Parental leave doesn’t hold you back at TSA.
Health sector expert, Taya Kirris, feels she is in phase two of her transition back to work after her first parental leave. The first phase was preparing for part time work, and the second is navigating full time work with the needs of an active one year old.
“I maintained an open and regular dialogue with my people and line manager during my leave ensuring we both agreed to and were comfortable with a fluid return date,” Taya said.
While a period of between six and 12 months was agreed for parental leave, Taya ended up returning to work after eight months.
“Negotiating my return date with TSA was really seamless and they were so understanding. Effectively it came down to me figuring out a time that I felt ready to return to work and TSA accommodated this.”
“And TSA was equally flexible after I returned to work. I initially agreed to work part time at three days per week, increasing by one day each month. But one month, I jumped at the opportunity to work on the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, and I was working five days again.”
“I didn’t plan or expect to be full time at work before my son was 12 months old. So, it has been a challenge to balance the needs of my young family with my work commitments, particularly on a monster project like John Hunter Hospital. But TSA has been understanding and I have their trust to manage my start and finish times, and the travel to Newcastle to ensure my son always comes first.”
As part of TSA’s parental leave policy, staff are offered three sessions with a professional coach to help plan their return, to identify what they want from work and how to voice this effectively.
“The coaching sessions were fantastic. My coach helped me work through my expectations of not only work but also of myself. It’s not always possible to ‘pick up where you left off’ so to speak. Projects come and go, and each one is different, so the sessions helped me to manage my expectations and the advice continues to be useful.”
Taya said the best thing about her return was sinking her teeth into the projects and once again being Taya the person and the expert project manager – not just “a mum”.
“What I’ve loved most is being afforded the same opportunities as I would’ve had before going on parental leave. Easing back into work hasn’t held me back at all.”
“I’ve taken the opportunity and shown that I can push myself and TSA has acknowledged it immediately. My experience is that some companies would be reluctant to promote women around the time of parental leave. At TSA, it comes down to whether you can do the job or not and getting the acknowledgement you deserve.”
After being a self-confessed workaholic before and during her pregnancy, Taya believes she would do things differently next time around and is already changing some of her behaviours at work.
“The scale of the John Hunter Hospital project is large and complex. Previously, I would never leave a task half completed before leaving for the day. But now I’ve learned to adjust the way I work and leave when I have to. We have good people here at TSA and I’m comfortable delegating and handing-over some of my work. Health comes first and at TSA, we’re all about people.”
And what else has Taya learnt over the past 12 months?
“I get a thrill from solving problems. I love working with people to overcome issues, and I can communicate and negotiate with colleagues, the client and contractors to find solutions and get the job done. This all usually goes out the window when dealing with a baby or toddler. There’s no logic or reasoning with them – you just go with the flow and try to limit the damage as much as possible! I love my son and his health and development is my number one priority. But it’s great to be among adults again!”