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A few months in your child’s first year will give you so much

We’re introducing our new partner leave policies at the start of 2023, and to celebrate, we spoke to colleagues Lucy and Paul Hodges on their positive experience of taking shared leave after the births of their children, Elsie and James. For both, their decision was driven by a keenness to share responsibility for bringing up their children from the outset, irrespective of any gender stereotypes.

‘I’ve always been a champion of gender equality, through my involvement with the Gender Network, so I wanted to practice what I preach,’ recalls Lucy. ‘Although I did want as much time as possible to bond with our baby, I also wanted that for Paul – I wanted to make sure it was fair, right from the off.’

‘For myself, I wanted to spend more time with our children and build a bond,’ says Paul. ‘But I was also conscious I wanted to be a good support to Lucy and to be a good dad.’

Time you’ll never get back

‘Having a supportive manager is just so important,’ says Paul. ‘It’s important for you to work through how you plan to take your leave, but it helped that my manager was never anything other than positive about me taking partner leave – the day I mentioned it was the day he was supportive of it.’

‘I also had a great experience with my line manager during my leave,’ Lucy said. ‘I was kept up to date with the business and I was put forward for a project, taking the lead role for diversity, equality and inclusion for the team, which she knew I’d be interested in, on my return.’

With the support of their line managers, Lucy and Paul took their partner leave. Paul reflects on the experience.

‘I really enjoyed my time off with our daughter Elsie, so much so that, when it came to our son James, I took even more of it,’ says Paul. ‘One of my highlights was taking James to a range of baby classes, such as sensory, sing and sign and it also gave me a sense of appreciation for the challenges of looking after a baby.

‘If anything, I enjoyed it even more second time round as I wasn’t wrestling with becoming a dad for the first time, and I also got the benefit of doing school drop off and pick-ups with Elsie too.’

Returning to work

Lucy also feels sharing their leave over the first year helped her return to work and eased the transition to nursery for the whole family.

‘When I returned to work, I didn’t have the whole worry of nurseries at the same time,’ she says. ‘I knew James was with Paul and still being loved and cared for like he was with me, so all I had to focus on was getting back into work mode. By the time James started nursery, I already had four months back at work.’

Paul, too, had a positive return to work and doesn’t think taking additional time off to be with his children affected his career. ‘In terms of the impact on my work in general because you can plan so far in advance – my boss and I had planned it all well before the moment came for me to finish. It feels like a proper break from work. It’s such a long time that the work doesn’t just wait for you to come back.

‘It hasn’t impacted my career and I know Lucy would say maternity leave hasn’t affected her career either. A few months in your child’s first year will give you all so much, but if you spent that time at work instead, I can’t see it defining your career.’

Helping growing families thrive

Our new partner leave policies will introduce the same pay and leave entitlements as local maternity and adoption leave policies for eligible fathers and partners to share the caring responsibilities for their new child – whether their child has arrived through birth, adoption, or surrogacy.

Learn how we can help your family thrive

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