The shared parental leave legislation was introduced on April 5th 2015, and allows eligible working parents the ability to share their parental leave if they’ve had a baby or adopted a child. Parents can share up to 50 weeks’ leave, and up to 37 weeks’ statutory pay. This is on top of the two weeks’ statutory paternity leave that’s always been available to fathers.
But with less than 2% of eligible men having taken shared parental leave since the legislation was introduced, you’ve got to wonder what’s tempted this small percentage of new dads to take up this opportunity…
In this blog, Daniel shares why he decided to take on shared parental leave.
I’d been working as a digital test lead for a year when my daughter was born. I took 2 weeks paternity when she was born, plus an extra 3 months shared parental leave.
I wanted to take advantage of the new legislation, which at the time had only just been implemented, to spend quality time bonding with my daughter. I think I was probably one of the first, if not the first, male in Nationwide to take advantage of shared parental leave.
When I think back to what I enjoyed most about my leave, a couple of things come to mind. Firstly spending quality time, and being hands-on with my daughter’s early development. Secondly, all the coffee and cake at the “mother and baby” classes!
In your opinion, why do you think men don’t take longer leaves?
I suppose in the majority of cases there’s still an expectation that the mother takes the parental leave, this is what seems to be expected in British Society. As a father, it was soon very obvious that I was in the minority, as when it came to taking my daughter to baby classes, I was the only Dad there!
How important do you think it is for working dads to be able to take parental leave?
I think it’s very important. Hopefully over time it becomes more of the norm for dads to take time off to bond with their children, which obviously the shared parental leave legislation now encourages.
“ I would definitely recommend dads to take up shared parental leave and I feel that my experiences with caring for my daughter full-time at that early stage, has made me a better dad. ”
In terms of my overall experience regarding shared leave - it was great. There was clear communication throughout my time off and coming back into work at the end of my leave was seamless due to the processes in place to ease you back in ahead of returning full-time. I was in regular contact with my manager and team, and towards the end of my leave I used ‘keeping in touch’ days to get back up to speed with projects and to clear my inbox!