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A father’s experience of Shared Parental Leave at Travis Perkins

07 Nov

Shared Parental Leave has been available in the UK since December 2014, but did you know that just 1% of new parents used the system in 2018?

Shared Parental Leave allows new parents the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay if they are having a baby or adopting a child. This means both parents have the option to take leave in a more flexible way during the early months of having a baby, making parenting and career progression more equal. However, many UK workers are unsure whether their workplace offers Shared Parental Leave, with fewer still actively approaching their HR departments to find out more about the system.

At Travis Perkins, we encourage all new parents to take the time that works best for them and their families. Graham Jameson, Resourcing Systems Manager, is one of our team members who has taken up the offer of Shared Parental Leave. He shares his story:

“I was off on Shared Parental Leave for three months”

Graham and his partner split the parental leave, with Graham taking three months off from February 2019. He says for his personal situation, the decision was a no brainer – the legislation was in place, Travis Perkins were supportive and he and his partner were in the financial position to be able to share the parental leave. How this time is split is up to the parents – some choose to both be at home at the same time, while Graham and his partner stayed at home separately while the other was at work.

People who participate in the scheme are granted Statutory Shared Parental Pay, so for couples where one partner earns considerably more than the other the scheme may not be feasible – but for Graham, it was the perfect opportunity.

“I don’t think fathers always get the time and bonding experience that mothers do”

Graham says he and his partner are equal in everything they do as parents, so sharing the parental leave made total sense to them. He maintains that for fathers who have the option to stay at home, it’s a great opportunity to spend time with a child during their early weeks or months - and that is time you don’t get back again.

“It was a straightforward process for me to do this at Travis Perkins”

While Graham didn’t know much about the shared policy before deciding to pursue it at Travis Perkins, he was pleased to find the process smooth and transparent. He researched the legislation and enquired to HR about his options, and says his manager was extremely supportive of his decision.

“Do some research and see if it’s possible for you”

Shared Parental Leave may not work for everyone, says Graham, but the first step is to look into the government policy and understand what you are entitled to. Because the take-up of the programme is fairly low currently, not all HR teams are on top of the legislation, so Graham advises getting a handle on it yourself to ensure you’re aware of the benefits and challenges it may bring.

“It helped put what mothers do into perspective”

Being alone with a newborn baby for hours at a time is a daunting but incredibly rewarding role, and one that Graham says put into perspective the experiences that mothers who stay home with their babies have. It also helped to highlight the importance of work-life balance, giving him vital time to bond with his new baby and take time out from work at this key stage in his family’s lives.

“I felt encouraged the whole time and was welcomed when I returned to work”

With ‘keep in touch’ days on offer at most businesses to parents undertaking parental leave – not to mention the social communication channels many of us use after work hours - there are plenty of ways to stay in touch with colleagues and the wider business while you’re caring for your child. Graham says this helped him to transition back to work life after his three-month break, slotting back in immediately after an update from his team.

“I’d recommend it to anyone”

Graham says that if you have the option to take Shared Parental Leave, have everything in place and can afford to do so, it’s a great way to bond with your new child and enjoy family time that you may not otherwise get.

Shared Parental Leave is a right that allows eligible parents across the UK the opportunity to combine work with family life. Whether you’re at Travis Perkins or another organisation, it could be a great option to explore if you have a child in the future.

Interested in working with us? Find out what Life@TP is like or view our latest vacancies to find a role that might suit you.

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