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Sky: Benefits of Shared Parental Leave

Category: testimonial

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Written by Stuart Brown - Transformation Director at Sky

I work as a Transformation Director at Sky, married to Paula, an Operations Director in another FTSE 250 company. We are an amazing team, with 2 children; Rory (2.5) and Jack (approaching 6 months). We are extremely supportive of each other’s careers and passionate believers in equality across genders.

I found out about shared parental leave (SPL) when we were expecting Rory and had recently joined Sky. My role was changing significantly so SPL didn’t work for us the first-time round. Instead I spent 1 day a week at home while Rory was 3-6 months old, to balance the full-time job and make more time to bond in those early months.

When Jack came along in October, I took SPL from December to March. And my experience was extremely positive, from sharing my intention at work, to taking the time out and returning full time. The key ingredients were having the confidence to go for it, a supportive boss and culture, and truly believing there would be no negative ramifications. I had the freedom to plan my handover and how I wanted to keep in touch with the team, which made my transition back into work relatively seamless.

My decision to take 3 months was down to 3 things:

1)  I got full pay during the period

2) It was a manageable time to be away from work

3) And it mirrored the time Paula had off

For me, the overall experience was amazing. I am a very hands on Dad anyway, and to spend 100% of time at home for this period of time was brilliant. It is definitely true that months 3-6 are an easier period than months 1-3 in terms of looking after a new born. It would have been amazing if we could have shared that time together, as it was tough on both of us when Paula went back to work.

The time was as beneficial, if not more so, for Rory (our eldest) who has come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of months. Not only have both of us been around more for him, we’ve been able to commit time and energy helping him settle into nursery.

Following SPL, I am much more organised in terms of all the things you need to plan for and organise for children (just to even leave the house) than I was when Rory was the same age as Jack, which is something I know Paula really appreciates.

There is no question that being a man off work with a baby, you are definitely in a minority everywhere you go, which makes you feel lonely at times and doesn’t do a great deal for your confidence. But we’re lucky to live in a busy area, close to lots of activities. I imagine living somewhere more rural, these feelings of loneliness could be exacerbated more.

I now know what it is like to prioritise the boys or some household chore with having a shower or going to toilet and the time has helped us juggle our careers, childcare and the domestic responsibilities of washing, cooking and cleaning. As well as prioritise time for exercise, something really important to me and Paula, that I usually did on my commute to work. This has meant that I have come back to work, refreshed, energised and really keen to get stuck back in.

My advice for families thinking of doing it, is go for it.

Life is short and no one can guarantee tomorrow. The early stages of parenting are hard but so, so rewarding. If that difficult period can be shared, it can only be a good thing. There is something amazing about being there every time your child wakes, cries, falls over, wants help etc.

Are you interested in a career at Sky? Please click here.

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