This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Couples who have shared the care of their child in the first year after birth have had great experiences.
They believe that sharing parental leave has not only benefited their children but also themselves as individuals, their relationships and their careers.
Shared parental leave video transcript
What made you think of sharing parental leave?
Sean Coyne: Um, well I’m a lawyer in the city, and I was going through periods of not seeing Imogen. We realised she wasn’t really recognising me.
Adrian Dyer: I felt like I wasn’t really pulling my weight, and actually it caused a bit of tension at home.
Jane Wilby: Because, actually I earn more than my husband does, so I was offered the opportunity for a new role, so it was career progression for me.
Hayley Grinter: It was really important for me that we would both be involved in bringing up our child.
What did friends, family and work think?
Natalie Newman: Because my husband works in construction, I think people were quite taken aback at first when he said he wanted to take additional paternity leave, but as soon as he said that he was just really keen to spend time with his son, everybody thought that was fantastic, so he’s had some really good support.
Jane Wilby: I think the response from my husband’s friends, or possibly my work colleague, they often don’t quite understand that he was having a career break to look after our son – they kind of thought ‘oh, he must be out of work’.
Adrian Dyer: No one in my company has taken parental leave, so it’s really a new thing.
How was this good for your family?
Jane Wilby: I think to have the option, either being a mother or father, to spend, you know, the first 6 months, first year with your child is amazing.
Tom Whipple: I suppose there was an aspect of that, in that it felt I was kind of doing her a favour you know, as it progressed it felt more like she was doing me the favour.
Natalie Newman: I really hope men don’t think that by sharing parental leave it’s about doing their partner a favour – I think it benefits the children, and the partnership and both partners.
Tom Whipple: I love the way it has built my relationship with him. I have noticed that sometimes when he’s upset he wants me to comfort him, although also sometimes when he’s upset he wants my wife to comfort him, and I suppose it’s been quite nice that in so far as he does view us as useful, he views us as equally useful.
Sean Coyne: We have a better sense of what it’s like to be in each other’s’ shoes and it’s really strengthened the bond between us, so the bond with Imo has been fantastic, and the bond with my wife has been awesome too.
Is shared parental leave good for workplace equality?
Adrian Dyer: So a woman can go back to work earlier - one could spend 3 months out, then the other one 3 months out etc., so you can share the time off.
Natalie Newman: I’d just got the job of my dreams, and I was really keen to get back to work as soon as I could. I think sharing responsibilities between both parents is really useful because if there was a critical time within the business, I’d really want to be there.
What you would you say to someone considering sharing parental leave?
Tom Whipple: I’d advise anyone who’s having children to be aware of their rights, and to look at the government websites, and know what they’re entitled to ask their employers for.
Natalie Newman: My husband’s really looking forward to his time off because having the opportunity to have the same time as what I have, because I’ve built such a strong bond with Seth in my 5 months.
Jane Wilby: He’s said it’s one of the best experiences and opportunities that he’s had.
Adrian Dyer: I would say that if there is even a question in any dad’s mind should they take paternity leave, they should absolutely do it.
If your baby is due on or 5 April 2015, or you are adopting a child, you may be eligible to share parental leave and pay with your partner.