Have an open dialogue with your employee about their expectations for parental leave, and what they think might work best for them. For example, asking about the type and frequency of contact they would like while on leave and discussing working arrangements for their return is likely to make your employees feel valued and result in a more beneficial for both you and your employee. If you think something might be a good idea, ask what your employee thinks about that option.
Your employee may want a degree of contact while on leave. Keep in touch days can be a good way to keep your employees in touch with the office and retain their skills while they are on parental leave. Because there is no prescribed format for keep in touch days (as long as the number of hours and time periods meet statutory requirements), have a discussion with your employee about some keeping in touch options they might like to consider. You could suggest that they may like to attend particular meetings or come to office briefings every so often.
Employees may feel reluctant to pitch for flexible work if they think that it will harm their career prospects. Flexible working has been shown to provide benefits for both employers and employees. Making it clear that you are open to flexible work means that you will be able to discuss options early, and work out an arrangement that is best suited to the needs of the firm and your employee.
Before your employee goes on leave, have a think about any cover requirements you may need while they are away. Discussing their workload and assessing what type of cover will be needed or whether tasks can be allocated between existing employees is an important step for ensuring a smooth handover process, and a high standard of work while your employee is on leave.