Fathers are often left out of the work-life balance debate and working fathers remain worried about their career prospects. However, recent polls show that an increasing number of dads want to spend more time with their family and 85 per cent wish they had taken more time off to look after their child. “Eligibility and a lack of awareness of shared parental leave“, as well as feeling “financially unable” were primary factors in the shockingly low uptake of shared parental leave.
At Lendlease, we offer 6 months of leave at full-pay for parents, irrespective of whether they are the primary or secondary carer. Over the past year, 30% of eligible fathers at Lendlease took shared parental leave compared with a national average of 3%.
Matt Bartlett is a Senior Project Manager at Lendlease and took 3 months of shared parental leave. He shares with us his experience.
“I would definitely recommend some form of parental leave to any new parents in LL. Whether it be 2 weeks or 6 months, everyone will take something positive from the experience. Efficient use of time and prioritisation are definitely skills I have honed, rather than learned, during my short stint of parental leave. It also made financial sense for me to take 3 months of leave at full pay and not have to spend money on childcare!
The support from my manager and team was overwhelmingly positive and I was encouraged to use my entitlement and was even promoted while on shared parental leave.
Going back to work was about establishing a 'new normal'. As two working parents it was important for us to establish new boundaries with our respective teams in terms of our working hours and pattern. I've also realised how little empathy I had for working parents when I first started my professional life.
On a cultural level, we are not ready for dads to be primary carers. I was regularly viewed with suspicion and frequently asked why I wasn't at work... Also, being the only male at every class or event I attended can be very intimidating (cue more empathy for women in Construction!). I’m very grateful I was able to take this opportunity to spend more time with my daughter and can definitely say it has been a very positive opportunity for my personal growth.”
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