Published on in Responsible Business

It might be your first child – or it might be your fifth.

Becoming a parent can be an exciting, fulfilling and also a scary moment in life.

It’s deeply important that you are able to create the right family life during those critical first few months. And that includes the best working arrangements for both parents.

This is a subject that’s close to my heart, both as a soon to be second-time father and the head of HR.

For me, I want to be part of those first memories and help my family settle into a new routine (whatever that looks like with a two-year-old and new born baby!). That’s why I was eager to take shared parental leave.

Many parents, especially fathers, don’t know about shared parental leave – or are concerned about the stigma that might be attached to it. It’s vital that all families know what their options really are.

Ongoing assumptions

Unfortunately, assumptions about gender – and the attitudes of some employers – are holding many new parents back from having a more active role in childcare.

Research shows that the majority of men want to be more involved with caring responsibilities, but they are twice as likely as women to believe that organisations expect them to put work before family.

At the same time, finances can be seen as a serious constraint. More than a third of men say they could not afford to reduce their earnings to take shared parental leave.

There have been legislative changes to create greater equality. Shared parental leave was introduced as law back in 2015, but fast forward to 2018 and only 2% of families have made use of it.

Creating more balance in organisations is about giving both parents the same opportunities to be part of family life. What’s more, as organisations, we have a responsibility to ensure that employees can make the best use of the options available to them.

Equal choice

A family should have the opportunity to spend those first few months as they wish, whether that be at home or in work. Critically, that decision shouldn’t be based purely on financial calculations.

With that in mind, at Fujitsu our shared parental leave pay matches our maternity pay.

Importantly, this policy includes all parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and is open to adoptive parents and intended parents under surrogacy arrangements.

I personally found the options for shared parental leave pretty good.  

While the first two weeks must be taken by the birth parent, how you choose to spend the other six months is up to you and your partner.

You can take it as one continuous period of leave, or as several clusters of leave; you can take it at the same time as your partner or separately – it really is whatever works for you. 

Paying 100% salary to new parents for a period of six months helps families make the right decisions, which are less weighted on financials, and more about what works for them. Even after these six months, there are another 13 weeks of leave available to take.

Better for everyone

Making shared parental leave the norm will help create a more balanced organisation, where both parents can be part of home life whilst still having careers.

I can’t wait to spend time with my expanding family, safe in the knowledge that I’m doing what’s right for me at home and at work. I hope my colleagues will take the same opportunity.

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