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Employers Must Do More to Champion Shared Parental Leave

Kat Knocker

It has been heartening to see multinational companies such as Diageo and O2 in the news recently announcing changes to their paid paternity leave policies. Attitudes towards shared childcare and fathers being primary caregivers in the early months are shifting but I feel there is still much to be done. Contributor Kat Knocker, Customer Director –

Shared parental leave is a legal right for those that are eligible, not only allowing both parents to bond with their child but also is a key strand of the strategy to address the gender pay gap and helping to address gender inequality. However, only one per cent of eligible couples are using shared parental leave and that needs to change.

For myself and my partner David, taking shared parental leave was a no- brainer. We have always supported each other in building our careers and if we couldn’t have shared the care equally I wouldn’t have had children.

I was the first person in our firm to take shared parental leave and the People Team (our in house HR) were massively supportive from my pregnancy onwards. This meant that we worked hand in hand to implement a process that would work for everyone going forward and it was a really synergised experience. I was heavily involved in handovers and even in hiring my cover to make sure they were the right fit for my team. I then took five months leave after Amelie was born, with a month overlapping with my partner David, before he took four months alone enabling me to return to work full time.

The People Team’s dedication to facilitating my shared parental leave extended beyond my actual leave and into my return to work, a transition that could deter potential shared parental leave participants if handled incorrectly.

From facilitating me bringing Amelie with me to our annual Christmas meeting to, once I returned to work, setting aside a room specifically for me to express breast milk in, the implementation of aftercare has been overwhelmingly positive. All staff are entitled to flexi core hours which works perfectly with a little one and have equal extra enhancement for both male and female staff on top of the statutory allowances they’re entitled to.

Shared parental leave made us both feel like capable caregivers for our little girl and we have both been able to not only experience her first moments, but continue to grow in our careers.

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