The world is changing in many ways. But it’s a reality of life that it’s the mum who gives birth and she usually needs at least some period of time to recover. So it often falls to the dad to have to manage a return to work after taking some time off in the early days of parenthood to help out with the new bub.

The Australian Government offers a modest parental leave scheme for dads, and some employers also include parental leave in their employment contracts. This makes it easier for dads who are in paid employment to take time off to look after a new baby.

However it doesn’t make it any easier for them to return to work when the leave period finishes. Especially if they are struggling with the transition to parenthood, or if their partners are. It can be difficult new dads who are feeling anxious or depressed to return to work. It can also be difficult to return to work if your partner is experiencing anxiety or depression. Being at work while worrying for a loved one can add a layer of stress and anxiety to the new dad’s everyday life.

Strategies for returning to work

Many new dads struggle with returning to work after their partner has given birth. They may be tired, stressed or worried about their partner or the bub and still need to perform on the job. However, depending on their employer and their work arrangements, there are a range of measures they can look at to make the transition easier. 

  • Some employers allow new dads to ease back into work. If this applies to you, consider taking them up on it. Work a few hours each day or a few days a week in the early days, building up to full time gradually.
  • Some employers allow dads to come back to work part time for a set period. This is worth considering to help you be more available for caring duties or appointments in the early days.
  • Try to be emotionally prepared for difficulties that arise at work. What will you do if you really need to stay at work but you receive a phone call from your partner saying she’s struggling or worried about the baby?
  • In a similar way, if you are struggling with feelings of loss, sadness, anger or resentment, try to put in place strategies for managing stressful times on the job. Is there a quiet place you can retreat to if you’re upset? Can you walk around the block?
  • Speak to your employer if possible about any difficulties you may be facing personally or as a family. Some employers are more receptive than others, so you’ll need to make a judgment on whether this is possible or not.
  • : Arrange other supports for you or your partner to call upon such as family, friends or neighbours, or local services like maternal child health services and supported playgroups.

Some dads have understanding, flexible employers who allow them some leeway in arrival and finishing times and can grant time off during the day for appointments. If this is you, you will be better placed to manage the transition back to work.

Federal workplace laws also give some protection, and there are bodies like Fair Work Australia that provide advice on workplace issues. Many employers also offer external counselling support and these professionals can often put you in touch with the people and organisations best place to give you the advice you need. 

Some useful links

  • Fairwork
    Information  and resources for workers rights including parental leave.
  • Human Services
    Information and resources for new dads on how to apply for Dad and Partner Pay.
  • Supporting Working Parents
    Official Australian Human Rights Commission - information and resources for parents returning to work.