In our Careers Clinic, we hand over to you, our community, to send in a question on career progression.
This month, Senior Consultant Rebecca Blundell gives her advice to an aspiring parent who’s in the process of looking for a new opportunity.
I’m in the process of looking for a new opportunity, which is very exciting. I know that I’d like to start a family in the next few years, so it’s important for me to join a firm with a good parental leave policy and family-friendly benefits.
From previous experience, I know that some firms support working parents better than others. I also realise that unfortunately, a firm might prefer not to hire someone who they think might soon be off on maternity leave. When’s the best time to bring up this topic with a prospective employer?
“I understand completely why you might have concerns about asking questions about things like maternity leave, particularly if you’ve worked somewhere where there wasn’t a family-friendly culture or even where there has been discrimination against working parents. Sadly, there are still some employers who might decide to go with a different candidate than one they suspect might go on maternity leave soon after joining them.
However, if you are planning on being with a firm for a long time it is reasonable to be interested in what its parental policies are if you are planning to start or grow your family in the future.
If it’s something that worries you, the best time to bring up parental leave is after you’ve received a job offer. Your recruiter can broach this with the firm on your behalf, which should make things easier for you. A firm should be able to provide you with this information straightaway and without issue, however, if they respond badly to your enquiry, it might not be the right place for you, especially if it feels like they might rescind your job offer simply for asking.
They might respond positively but have a parental leave policy that isn’t quite as good as you hoped. In this scenario, there might be scope for you to negotiate on this, especially if they are really keen for you to join them. Again, your recruitment consultant can help with this and handle any difficult conversations for you.
There are plenty of law firms out there that really support the parents within their team so that they can reach their full potential and have fulfilling legal careers, no matter what their gender or family set-up. I hope that you find the one that is right for you. Best of luck with your job search!”
About the Career Accelerator
The Careers Clinic features in our Career Accelerator mailout every few weeks. It is designed to help you develop your skills, get advice from leading lawyers in your practice area and better understand the current legal opportunities on offer. You can sign up to receive the Career Accelerator straight to your inbox, by completing the form below.