Background and objectives: Despite a large amount of literature on parents in academia, to date there has been limited empirical research into the area of returning to work after parental leave. This study is original in looking at this topic from the perspective of UK based academics. Given the stressors faced by parents who return to work after parental leave, it is important for counselling psychologists to look into this issue. Therefore, the overarching purpose of this study was to explore academic mothers and fathersâ experiences of returning to work after parental leave in a research-intense University. Method and analyses: A qualitative design was employed to explore the experiences of returning to work after parental leave of fifteen academic parents across the whole institution. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and the transcripts were analysed using the reflexive thematic analysis approach. Findings: Qualitative findings highlighted five themes within the data: âConcerns about returning to workâ, âAdjustments to new work patternsâ, âOrganisational factors influencing return to workâ, â(Perceived) division of childcare responsibilitiesâ and âImpact on career progressionâ. Conclusions: The key areas which influenced the experience of returning to work after parental leave were: the access to paid parental leave; the experience of flexibility that academic work entails and the negotiation of academic and parenthood identity and roles. Potential implications for counselling psychology and organisations, limitations and suggestions for further research are discussed.