Since January 2023, we’ve introduced new, market-leading Partner Leave policies. Open to same sex parents as well as heterosexual parents, the policies introduce support for eligible fathers/partners of mothers and other new parents, whether the child has arrived through birth, adoption, or surrogacy.
Colleague John Fielding who works in Retail Banking, and his partner, Katie are expecting their second child at the end of this month.
“When I found out that Partner Leave was available, I just thought it was an absolutely amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” he agrees.
The policies allow partners the same pay and leave entitlements as the local Maternity and Adoption Leave policies do. In John’s case, this means up to 52 weeks leave to help care for his new child - whilst receiving full pay for the first six months then the equivalent of Statutory Maternity Pay for just under four months.
“This will be our second child. We’ve also got Theo, who’s three and a half,” explains John. “When we had Theo, I took advantage of Shared Parental Leave to take some extra time off and I found that was really helpful in terms of sharing the workload with my partner – and not missing out things with Theo.”
But even with the extra few weeks off that the Shared Parental Leave policy allowed, John still found it challenging to navigate his responsibilities as a new dad and balance these with his role as an employee of the bank.
“If I’m being really candid, when I went back to work after we had Theo, I did struggle a bit,” he admits. “I had to work out what my role was as a modern-day father.
“When I was younger, my dad was out at work all day, and my mum looked after everything at home. But things are different now and I struggled to find my role and make sure the load was shared fairly.”
Helping to create a more equitable society
For John, Partner Leave is a great opportunity for couples to truly support each other during the busy period after welcoming a new baby. He believes it will help ensure parental responsibility is shared more equally, promoting a better balance long after the period of Partner Leave is ended – and ultimately playing a role in helping to create a more equitable society.
“Partner Leave means we’ll get to properly share the workload. We’re really lucky that the baby is arriving at the end of April so hopefully we’ll get to enjoy family walks with the dog and spend lots of time outside – as well as helping each other through the sleepless nights and sharing the cooking, cleaning and housework.”
“Previously, I was in the office 7am-4pm and when I got home I was like’ right I’ll take the baby and give you a break,’ whereas Katie was like ‘well you’ve worked all day, you need a break too.’
“If we’re both around, it lets us be a lot more flexible, support each other much better and spend time together as a family whilst each getting a break too. From a mental health perspective, I think it’s really beneficial.”
Being there every day
John’s planning to take between six and nine months off work - and is really looking forward to being able to spend this time with his new arrival.
“Babies change every day - they do new things and new personality traits come through. I did miss out on quite a few of those milestones with Theo whilst I was working in the office, so I’m looking forward to catching more of them this time.”
“To be able to take six months off work without worrying about having less money coming in is just brilliant. It lets you give your full attention to your family without having the worry of how you’ll pay the bills in the back of your mind – especially in this day and age with the current cost-of-living crisis. It’s phenomenal really. I’ve spoken to lots of friends about it and they all think it’s amazing.”
Support with phasing back to work
But the Partner Leave policy isn’t just about helping partners make the most of their time with their family away from work – it also looks at how best to support them as they return to work too. And this is something John believes is equally important.
“The phased return is really great,” he enthuses. “If someone’s been off for 6 months and is then suddenly thrown back into the hustle and bustle of full-time work, that’s probably going to be a shock to the system from a mental health perspective. The fact that you can phase back gradually, and that you can make the most of the bank’s ‘Keeping In Touch’ days where you have a work buddy to keep you abreast of any changes in the team – that’s all really great and means you can come back to work in a way that ensures you feel supported.”
John concludes: “If I’m honest I’ve always thought this is a great place to work, and I’ve always been proud to work for the bank. I think this is just another example of how we’re living our purpose and supporting families to thrive. It’s a really good thing.”