Shared parental leave was introduced back in 2015, yet government statistics show that take up is still only sitting around 2% across the UK.
As a nation our attitudes to family life have changed. A two-parent family can be two mothers, two fathers, a mother and father and beyond, there is no set standard. Mothers have been the driving force of social change across the last 60 years, moving into paid work as the cost of living increases. Today’s fathers spend more time with their children than their fathers did and more than their fathers did before them.
So why is the take up of shared parental leave still so low?
We caught up with REED Co-Members to discuss their own experiences of Shared Parental Leave, in the first of this mini -series on
Peter lives in the Peak District and is based in our Manchester office. Together with his partner Jonny, they adopted two boys. Starting his career with REED in 2003 as a Recruitment Consultant in Reed Health, Peter is now the Head of HR for the RSR network (Reed Specialist Recruitment).
Peter Parkin-Child, Head of HR, RSR Network
Around 2012, Jonny and I decided that we wanted a family; and adoption seemed the best way to achieve this. Not only would we be providing a loving home to a child that needed it, but we would be able to fulfil our desire to become dads. Little did we know that we would be ending up with two!!
When we were finally matched and our thoughts turned to how we were going to envelop the boys into our lives, we both wanted the opportunity to spend quality time with them; particularly as we all needed to get to know and grow to love each other. Additional Adoption Leave (I am now showing my age is this was the pre-cursor to Shared Parental Leave) provided this opportunity as it meant we could both take time out of work without compromising our job security or careers.
The opportunity to take AAL was invaluable, particularly as I was able to combine this with my 10 year sabbatical. This meant I got to spend the first 8 weeks with the boys when they first arrived, alongside Jonny who took the first 6 months of adoption leave – and believe me, we needed both of us there as they ran rings around us! I then came back to work for 4 months, and then went off for a further 8 months as I took advantage of REED’s additional 8 weeks’ unpaid leave at the end of the statutory period.
The whole experience was amazing, and being able to spend all that time with my boys meant they settled in quickly and became the focus of our whole family! The fact that Jonny and I both got to have that dedicated (and solo) time with the boys helped us to both feel we had equal footing in terms of their care, and without having to put our careers on hold. Plus who doesn’t love the excuse to muck about in soft play areas?!
I have absolutely no regrets for choosing to take a break from work, and my whole team were amazing – from my manager who was happy to approve my request through to my team who picked up additional duties whilst I was off. In fact, the reaction and support I have received from colleagues across REED is testament to the type of people that work here; and why I’m now in my 16th year with the company.
As for my advice for anyone thinking of taking SPL, and being based on my own experience, it is do it!! Obviously there are lots of things to take into consideration (financial implications being a big one) and it will take careful planning, but the chance to spend time with my boys is something that I will always treasure and be thankful for.
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