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‘Best decision ever’: two dads on taking shared parental leave

Becoming a family, adapting to new routines, navigating sleepless nights: balancing parenthood and a career can be tough, especially at the start.

Shared parental leave offers greater flexibility over how, when and who takes time off after a birth or adoption. It allows parents to split the leave, enabling them both to have a greater involvement in their child's upbringing.

We introduced shared parental leave in April 2015 and, since then, nearly 300 of our people have benefited. We continue to encourage more people to explore our parental leave policies and this year we’ve increased our focus on support for fathers.

Two Deloitte dads share their experiences with us here.

Best decision

Ed Greig is our Chief Disruptor. He took four months of shared parental leave between June and October 2018, immediately after the birth of son Osip (Oz for short).

During that time, with his wife also off work, Ed built a special bond with Oz. He occasionally checked in with his team, but otherwise had his projects covered while he was out of the office.

“It was easily the best decision I’ve made,” he said. “Shared parental leave was really helpful for figuring out our routines and how we were going to be parents together.”

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Jim Bloomfield, a chartered accountant from our Leeds office, shares a similar story. After the birth of son Seb in 2017, he took nine months of shared parental leave.

Both he and his wife spent six months off work together. Jim then used accrued holiday to spend a further three months with Seb while his wife Louise returned to her role as a partner in a law firm.

Deloitte pays the same for maternity and shared parental leave – sixteen weeks at full pay then a further ten at half pay.

“We were lucky our employers gave us a financial reward for taking shared leave,” Jim said. “I wanted to help Louise achieve her balance with work. Plus, I wanted to spend as much time with Seb as possible.”

He believes this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for his family to have valuable time together. They travelled to Texas when his son was eight weeks old and spent almost a month driving round national parks, enjoying the outdoors and watching live sports.

“Supporting our working parents has long been a key priority and focus for Deloitte,” said Emma Codd, our Global Special Advisor on Inclusion. “When shared parental leave was introduced into UK law we embraced it. We knew that this meant both paying it at enhanced rates and ensuring that we always provided an inclusive culture in which all our parents felt able to take it without any concerns that it could adversely impact their career.”

What is shared parental leave?

Eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave to care for their child in the first year following a birth or adoption. They can choose how to split it – enabling them to take time off together for up to six months, or stagger it so that one parent is always with the baby during that initial year.

The millennial dad at work

In May 2019, Deloitte teamed up with DaddiLife, the UK's leading platform and community for millennial dads. They surveyed more than 2,000 working fathers between the ages of 24 and 40 and found that more dads than ever (58 per cent) are now actively involved in day-to-day parenting. But their employers don’t always make it easy for them.

Working fathers want more flexible arrangements and almost half say that improving parental leave is a vital priority. Despite this, many of those surveyed said they are not getting the support they need. Almost 40 per cent of working dads requested a change in hours, but nearly half were unsuccessful (44 per cent).

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