What the hell is Shared Parental Leave!?

We are down to two weeks before I start Shared Parental Leave, looking after Sofia for 2 months. I announced it at a town hall session as part of a work presentation and it got more follow up attention than the topic I was actually talking about. There was a mix of, what is that? Why would you want to do that and that’s amazing. I actually had a high 5 in a meeting today (not in a lads Grrrrr way) and have a countdown on our team wall. It’s been great at generating awareness and am close to writing a article on this at work. 

Shared Parental Leave is a European initiative and is part now of U.K. Law. It is very different to Paternity which is limited to two weeks. It enables parents to share the 52 weeks of maternity leave and came in to law in 2014 for babies born after 5th April 2015. You can take it in blocks and as long as you give 8 weeks notice is something that is fine to do. You also can work a number of days during that period as a way of staying in touch. You still acrue holiday during this period. It’s pretty cool but isn’t something work seems to promote and there is a lack of awareness about the law.

Although work has been fine with the Leave, it is law. There isn’t much in the way of promotion of this. It’s not obvious on our intranet and to be honest the general maternity policy could do with being updated in line with some of the better companies listed in this top 30 by motherhoodtherealdeal. Many work places are starting offering much more flexible working and Scandinavia has a reputation for the stay at home dad. Sweden offers 480 days at 80% pay. How incredible is that? That differs to the US which offers no time at all.

There have been a few people I’ve met through stating I was going on leave who have taken time out for the same reason and everyone has said how important it is. I originally didn’t really think about it other than it was a one off opportunity but now as it approaches I understand how valuable it is. For me I currently see Sofia at weekends, early morning and maybe evening. To be part of her growing up, to maybe see her walk for the first time, to hear her speak, to teach her new things is going to be a rewarding process. I’ve worked hard to create my current life so I feel it is nice to take time out of that for Sofia. 

So what’s in store while I am off? Well, we have some pool days booked and will be attending Hart Beeps courtesy of Mum booking us in. I will likely be having a few coffee shop trips to recover from softplay. I need to find some other summer things to do. There is obviously the local farm, she is obsessed by animals and so maybe a trip to the local Safari park is an option. 

Hopefully there will be some people to hang out with. Em has built a good set of friends over the 9 months off. So is going to be interesting stepping in to that world for what is a relatively short period. Em is only going back 3 days a week during this period so there will be a lot more time for both of us to spend together with Sofia which will be great. Of course I am sure there will be a few more blogs on the experience. I just hope it stops raining! 


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