To help level the playing field for women in the workplace, a growing number of businesses are striving to offer enhanced paternity leave for mums and dads. The idea is that if organisations can try to gender-balance parental leave it will show that having a fulfilling career can be family-friendly too.
However, it’s fair to say work still needs to be done to encourage men to take more than the statutory two weeks leave. Statistics released by the Department of Business last year show just 2% of couples are taking advantage of shared parental leave, while a quarter of men say there is still a stigma about dads taking time off to look after children, according to a LinkedIn survey of 4,000 UK workers.
Being one of the first men in an organisation to take enhanced paternity leave is undoubtedly a daunting task.
Tom Pepper, head of marketing solutions for LinkedIn UK, was one of the first fathers in the business to take six weeks paternity leave when the policy was extended from the two-week minimum around 18 months ago. Despite his daughter already being born when the changes were announced, Pepper realised he was eligible as the policy was being backdated by six months.
Aware that it had been difficult to get the work/life balance right when his son was born, Pepper wanted to strike a better balance following the birth of his daughter. As a leader within the business, he also saw it as a brilliant opportunity to role model the change. That’s not to say that making the decision to take six weeks of parental leave was easy, though.
“Based on the long legacy of a career in advertising I had this nagging doubt about the perception of me taking advantage of this benefit and taking such a big chunk of time out,” Pepper recalls.
“I think secondly, letting go of work for six weeks was also scary. And even though it’s only six weeks it felt like – particularly with a new role in a fast-paced environment – there would be decisions being made and handing that over for six weeks gave me anxiety.”
Despite his concerns, when Pepper asked his manager about the possibility of taking parental leave the answer was an immediate yes. With…