opinion on parental leave for an employee
I'm wondering about something you can maybe give an opinion on. It has to do with an employee who works for me who will be going on leave for 12 weeks when she has a baby later this year. She is a department manager with about 15 people reporting to her. We are a small company with not a lot of management types and she has alot of responsibility not easily taken over by someone else. Most of the people who work for her travel alot so they're not really able to cover for her either.
We are planning to free up one of the more senior traveling people (by hiring a newer person to backfill) and that person will do alot of day to day tasks. However there are some things that may arise that the more junior person won't be able to do - hiring someone if there's a resignation, 2007 budget decisions that may need to be made, etc.
So here's my question. If you have been in this kind of situation or know someone who has - just how completely disengaged would you expect this person to be for three months? I don't have kids but if it were me I wouldn't want anything to do with work while I was gone. However I also could not imagine just checking out of a position like this completely for three months either.
I am really sensitive to work/family issues because frankly, I don't see how people do it all. So I don't want to come off as an insensitive, workaholic, childless hag but I will need to talk to her about how she wants to handle critical things that may come up while she's gone. I have worked with some other women in sales who supposedly also took 12 weeks off but they were clearly not "off" by any sense of the imagination based on the amount of email they were generating.
So anyway, I'm wondering - what do you think is reasonable/realistic in a situation like this - in terms of how much "work" the person might actually expect to do while on leave. (We are equipped so people can work remotely with laptop, etc.)