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Embracing Work Life Blend at QBE – Shared Parental Leave

Category: QBE, Work Life Balance, Parents, Parental Leave, Insuranace

Flexible Working.

At QBE, we care about your personal ambitions as well as your professional ones. We have a number of policies in place to help you achieve the work life balance that works for you. Whether you are a parent or carer, or have other unfulfilled ambitions, the reason doesn't matter but making it work does.

We heard from Jonathan Heath, Claims Team Leader, about his experience of taking shared parental leave. Jonathan told us how it not only benefited him, but his wife as well. 

“Earlier this year, I spoke to one of my colleagues who had had the chance to take a few weeks additional shared parental leave up to his child’s first birthday. I had seen some information about this but thought as I had already taken paternity leave, that it probably wouldn’t be available to me. I contacted HR and was advised that at the start of the year, the policy had changed, and that with my managers permission I could take shared parental leave up until my son was one.

“My wife was always planning on going back to work early for both her sanity, and for monetary reasons. She was looking to go back to work after around seven or eight months off. When it became apparent that she was suffering from post-natal depression, I really wanted to take the pressure off her and our other family members, who had agreed to look after our son when my wife returned to work.

“I spoke to my manager about my reasons for wanting to take shared parental leave and following the discussion, my manager came back to me really quickly to tell me the leave I had requested had been approved. (I am not afraid to say a few happy tears were shed in that meeting!) 

“Although everything was signed off, I was still very nervous about taking the leave, worrying about how it might affect my grading, my team, and even my career prospects (all the things I’m sure women go through when they have to take maternity leave) but HR and my manager were awesome, and I was guided through the process with ease. My health and wellbeing were fully supported, and in the eight weeks leading up to my leave, additional support was also offered to my wife. I felt very well supported by QBE at a HR level and also by management at a personal level. The eight weeks flew by and soon it was my last day in the office. I kept my laptop and company phone (as per agile working – which is another great thing QBE also do) and my manager said that she would see me again in September and not to turn my laptop or phone on – and to enjoy my time with my son and my family.

“The shared leave was one of the greatest yet hardest experiences of my life! Looking after a nine-month-old whilst also having to do the school run with a four-year-old was not easy, although the nine-month-old was easier than the four-year-old at times! I now see why people often suffer with post-natal depression, lack of adult contact during the day, and doing the household chores was really testing. At times it felt like I had cabin fever. I did try some baby groups, but found as a male, I wasn’t as welcomed, so had to find other things to do with my son. 

“I have never taken my wife for granted, but I now fully understand the pressures that she went through in the first few months (of having both my children) and I have told her throughout my time off, what a great job she did prior to going back to work – I also reminded her that we are certainly not having any more children! 

“The four months flew by and during that time I had two keep-in-touch days with my team (one a charity day in June and the other one in August). The communication around both days was excellent and the day in August definitely helped me prepare for my return to work in September. Management checked in regularly with me and gave me a good idea of what my new team would look like on my return. 

“My wife and I took the kids away for a lovely summer holiday in Wales, which was fantastic to ‘get away’. My wife’s mental health has improved during my time off and she has found that as she hasn’t had to ‘worry’ about the children, she has been able to concentrate on teaching and had her own time too. She is certainly in a much better place than earlier this year. I returned to work on the 23rd September, and again, my manager supported me on my return and explained the challenges for the next few months. I can’t lie – coming back to work was great! After two weeks back, it felt like I had never been away, and I was looking forward to the new challenges work would bring. Not forgetting the challenges at home with a now one-year-old who is learning to walk and talk, alongside my four-year-old who goes through stages of what can only be described as a mini teenager. She is still learning to share toys with her little brother!” ​


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