A Calgary company has developed guides to help families and employers make the most of maternity leave planning.

When Sheryl Khanna became a mom for the second time she needed to find work that was flexible enough to accommodate her growing family, but it wasn’t easy.

“I found it very challenging,” she said. “I found a lot of positions that I was qualified for, but everybody wants somebody Monday to Friday nine to five which I knew wasn’t going to work for me or my family.”

She had moved to Calgary from Ottawa and found a stark difference from her old employer who was very accommodating after her first child was born.

“It would be nicer if more people could have that relationship with an employer or starting out with a new employer because those sorts of things really facilitate being able to work, being able to be happy at work and being able to function and be productive,” she said.

She found a way to make working work for her by becoming a freelance writer and editor, but that choice doesn’t work for everyone and many women say they struggle to find balance between work and family.

“Just over 38 per cent said it was having a negative impact on their career and career development, and yet when we asked the same question to employers 15 per cent said it was having a negative impact,” said Avra Davidoff, Workplace Psychologist.

Now there are guides for both parents and employers to help with this common issue, created by Canada Career Counselling and made free for the public by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, or CERIC.

“It’s really about offering practical information, tips, tools and strategies for both parties to come together and have a discussion around maternity leave career transition, and it’s specific to careers, so how does an organization retain and engage working women during the maternity leave transition and how does a pregnant and parenting mom stay engaged in their career,” said Davidoff.

Both parents and employers are urged to take a look at the guides, and address the issues surrounding maternity leave. Khanna said people should talk to their employers to find solutions that are beneficial to both employee and employer.

“You might be pleasantly surprised. They might not be able to do anything to help you or they might not be open to that but it’s definitely worth asking because it might be the difference between you being able to stay at work or having to leave work,” said Khanna.

You can find the guides by logging on to the CERIC website.