Source | LinkedIn : By Chris Parr
If I were a woman, there would be no point me writing this article.
Thankfully, despite the many problems with the treatment of women in the workplace (think pay inequality, glass ceilings and baffling ideas about “thinking like a man”), time off for mum with a new baby is – I think – an accepted right.
Actually, now I have typed that I worry that I might be accused of overlooking the different ways in which countries approach this issue (benefits vary massively of course, and the long-term implications that taking time off can regrettably have on an individual’s career are well documented).
In fact, even within the UK university system, there is huge inequality in the benefits offered to new parents. These 2014 figures show how there can be a £10,000 difference in the value of parental benefits within UK higher education (click the graphic for more detail).
However, although an important topic, that’s not what I am here to write about. I’m here to write about my own situation, which saw me – as of 1 February – take three months off work to look after my nine-month-old son.
I believe this is more unusual for a man than a woman, and so a worthy topic for a short blog.
Here’s the legal stuff: in the UK, new parents are entitled to 12 months off with a new baby. It’s not all paid, but full time employees are entitled to the time. Previously, this “maternity leave” had been for mums. Dads would typically get two weeks off – usually taken when the baby was born.
However, for babies born after April 2015, that “maternity leave” has be re-named “shared parental leave”, and either parent is entitled to the time off, provided that the total time taken by both parents does not exceed 12 months.
In my case, my wife took 9 months, and I am taking the final 3 – but in theory you can split them whichever way you choose.
It was a tough decision. Instinctively, I wanted to take some time off – it’s such a huge opportunity to spend an extended period of time with our first child. However, I did feel guilty about spending such a large period away from work even though this would enable my partner to return to work sooner.