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February 7, 2024
|
5 mins to read

Why everyone should be included in the parental leave conversation

Parental leave should include everyone. In this blog, we explore the merits of an enhanced policy and how to implement it.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

Like so many things in the workplace, your parental leave policy should not be “one-size-fits-all.”

Although parental leave has improved in recent years - with recent research by Indeed finding that in 2022, employers were twice as likely (102%) to offer enhanced packages when compared to the previous year - we still think there’s room for improvement. As the conversation progresses, is anyone being left out?

By its very nature, enhanced parental leave should be inclusive of every single type of parent: mothers, fathers, non-binary and LGBTQ+ parents, those undertaking adoption and IVF… the list goes on. In this blog we’ll explore the importance of inclusive parental leave policies, and some steps you can take to create them.


Why should you adopt an inclusive parental leave policy if you haven’t already?


There are so many reasons to adopt an inclusive parental leave policy - and if you’re reading this, the chances are you don’t need a lot of convincing. Nevertheless, it’s still important to explore the merits.

Inclusivity


The key benefit of including everyone in the parental leave conversation is obvious: inclusivity and gender equality.

While there has been steady progress, existing parental leave policies in the UK are still predicated on a system that expected women to hold down the home while men went to work. They are, by their very nature, unfairly skewed. While women and those bearing the child receive 52 weeks of paid maternity, men and partners only receive two weeks.

This inequality goes both ways: the men or partners in the couples suffer by being unable to spend time with their newborn and share in the never-ending labour of raising a child. Meanwhile, the women suffer by shouldering the majority of this labour, and sacrificing time spent in the workforce - therefore potentially missing out on skills and progressions within their industry.

Of course, everybody - regardless of gender - makes sacrifices when they have a child. But shouldn’t these sacrifices be equitably distributed between partners?

Enhanced parental leave policies also ensure inclusivity for LGBTQ+ employees. These policies cover adoption leave, surrogacy and IVF, as well as shared parental leave and non-birth parent rights. By including these key elements, you acknowledge that parenthood doesn’t look the same for everyone.

Employee retention



It simply doesn’t make good business sense to force the modern workforce, with all their varying needs and circumstances, into the same decades-old framework.

As pointed out by this article in the Financial Times, workers are much more likely to stay in organisations that offer generous parental leave - and it is essential that the company culture encourages everyone to take up what they are owed. It is not enough just to have the policy, people need to feel empowered to actually use it.

Enhanced parental leave comes as part of the “work-life balance” package, and work-life balance is essential to employee retention. When people start to feel as though their work is becoming so overwhelming that it drowns their entire personal life, that’s when they jump ship.

Health and wellbeing


It goes without saying that inclusive parental leave promotes positive health and wellbeing for your staff. Parenting is a famously demanding job: all-encompassing, never ending, and generally undertaken alongside another full-time job.

When these two roles start to overlap and overwhelm each other, it can have a serious impact on employees’ mental and physical health, as well as their work-life balance. And as we know from our last point, when work-life balance suffers, so does retention.

Bringing a human being into the world is a complex, transformative, arduous task. It comes with so many challenges, and these look different for everyone. From changes in the body, to self-doubt and anxiety, to serious medical conditions like postpartum depression, the toll that child-rearing can have on parents is almost immeasurable. During these hurdles, self-care becomes more important - and harder - than ever.

An enhanced policy shows your employees that you care about their health, and actively want them to invest time back into themselves.

Contribution to a fairer future



Which side of history do you want to be on?

When you offer inclusive parental leave policies, you are making a statement and contributing something incredibly valuable to the future. The more organisations that say “no” to restrictive, exclusionary policies, the less accepted they will become overall. It is a long process, but each inclusive policy is a step in the right direction.

Enhanced parental leave policies help to undo decades of restrictive gender roles; harmful stereotypes and assumptions that have led to women bearing the full brunt of the domestic minutiae while men deal with the pressure of being the sole breadwinner.

What does it mean to have an inclusive parental leave policy?



Now that we’ve made the case for inclusive parental leave policies, how do you actually go about implementing them? What essential elements make up a truly inclusive policy? Here are a few steps you can follow.


Training for management to support employees



This starts from the top down.


It’s essential that management is fully trained and knowledgeable on all aspects of parental leave, so they can act as a positive example and speak with authority on the topic. Most crucially, it benefits the parents; a well-prepared line manager leads to a less stressful parental leave.

Ensure that there is a solid structure in place to support parents on every step of their journey, and that everyone is on the same page so that they know what to expect. Talk about their plans, work out how much communication they want during their leave, and make sure to arrange a final meeting before it starts.

Create a trusting, family-first culture


As we’ve already mentioned, it is not enough to simply have the policies. Your employees need to truly feel comfortable and supported when it comes to taking up these policies. They need to feel a sense of trust and autonomy, and know that they won’t be looked down upon.

According to data gathered by Fertility Family, over one in six people have delayed having children because of their career, suggesting that the issue of companies making their employees feel obligated to put off their family plans is a widespread one.

This needs to change. A trusting culture - and a culture that openly values and prioritises family - is the first step to eradicating the idea that people need to pause their life plans in order to get ahead at your company.

How could your company be more “family-friendly?” This is usually a question of flexibility. Do you offer flexible hours? An Employee Assistance Program to support new parents’ wellbeing? Analyse what you’re currently doing, and where you could improve.

At Thrive, we firmly believe that family comes first - and strive to create a culture that supports this in our actions, attitudes and policies. We find that when people feel they have time and space to invest into what’s important to them, they then have more time and space to excel in their job roles.

A return to suit every parent


Have we made it clear enough already that one size does not fit all?

The same applies to "return to work" processes. During leave, some people prefer the occasional check-in to be kept in the loop, whereas others prefer more regular updates. Make it clear that they are still as much a part of the team as when they left by offering regular opportunities for social events (if they want to come.) Babies welcome, of course.

Along with social events, KIT (Keeping in Touch) days help parents feel continually involved. They can use these to keep on top of projects, join in with meetings, or simply as a way to slowly get back into work.

When new parents officially return to work, they may feel discombobulated by the absence. That’s only natural, and patience is key. Make sure they have everything they need to get back into the swing of things, including up-to-date training on all processes, and the opportunity to discuss any gaps that they might be concerned about.

Inclusive policies



To get a true sense of what an inclusive policy would mean to your people specifically, take the pulse by soliciting feedback from your team. Find out what is in high demand, how you’re doing well already, and how you could improve. Once you discover what matters most to your team, you can work this into your policy - resulting in the parental leave policy that works best for your specific organisation.

For more general guidance on enhanced paternity leave, you can peruse this fact sheet from CIPD or read the government’s official guidance.

And for even more information on how to support your employees in parenthood and beyond, why not explore Thrive Content? This off-the-shelf content solution has thousands of resources to equip you and your teams on everything from parental leave to cyber security.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.

February 7, 2024
|
5 mins to read

Why everyone should be included in the parental leave conversation

Parental leave should include everyone. In this blog, we explore the merits of an enhanced policy and how to implement it.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

Like so many things in the workplace, your parental leave policy should not be “one-size-fits-all.”

Although parental leave has improved in recent years - with recent research by Indeed finding that in 2022, employers were twice as likely (102%) to offer enhanced packages when compared to the previous year - we still think there’s room for improvement. As the conversation progresses, is anyone being left out?

By its very nature, enhanced parental leave should be inclusive of every single type of parent: mothers, fathers, non-binary and LGBTQ+ parents, those undertaking adoption and IVF… the list goes on. In this blog we’ll explore the importance of inclusive parental leave policies, and some steps you can take to create them.


Why should you adopt an inclusive parental leave policy if you haven’t already?


There are so many reasons to adopt an inclusive parental leave policy - and if you’re reading this, the chances are you don’t need a lot of convincing. Nevertheless, it’s still important to explore the merits.

Inclusivity


The key benefit of including everyone in the parental leave conversation is obvious: inclusivity and gender equality.

While there has been steady progress, existing parental leave policies in the UK are still predicated on a system that expected women to hold down the home while men went to work. They are, by their very nature, unfairly skewed. While women and those bearing the child receive 52 weeks of paid maternity, men and partners only receive two weeks.

This inequality goes both ways: the men or partners in the couples suffer by being unable to spend time with their newborn and share in the never-ending labour of raising a child. Meanwhile, the women suffer by shouldering the majority of this labour, and sacrificing time spent in the workforce - therefore potentially missing out on skills and progressions within their industry.

Of course, everybody - regardless of gender - makes sacrifices when they have a child. But shouldn’t these sacrifices be equitably distributed between partners?

Enhanced parental leave policies also ensure inclusivity for LGBTQ+ employees. These policies cover adoption leave, surrogacy and IVF, as well as shared parental leave and non-birth parent rights. By including these key elements, you acknowledge that parenthood doesn’t look the same for everyone.

Employee retention



It simply doesn’t make good business sense to force the modern workforce, with all their varying needs and circumstances, into the same decades-old framework.

As pointed out by this article in the Financial Times, workers are much more likely to stay in organisations that offer generous parental leave - and it is essential that the company culture encourages everyone to take up what they are owed. It is not enough just to have the policy, people need to feel empowered to actually use it.

Enhanced parental leave comes as part of the “work-life balance” package, and work-life balance is essential to employee retention. When people start to feel as though their work is becoming so overwhelming that it drowns their entire personal life, that’s when they jump ship.

Health and wellbeing


It goes without saying that inclusive parental leave promotes positive health and wellbeing for your staff. Parenting is a famously demanding job: all-encompassing, never ending, and generally undertaken alongside another full-time job.

When these two roles start to overlap and overwhelm each other, it can have a serious impact on employees’ mental and physical health, as well as their work-life balance. And as we know from our last point, when work-life balance suffers, so does retention.

Bringing a human being into the world is a complex, transformative, arduous task. It comes with so many challenges, and these look different for everyone. From changes in the body, to self-doubt and anxiety, to serious medical conditions like postpartum depression, the toll that child-rearing can have on parents is almost immeasurable. During these hurdles, self-care becomes more important - and harder - than ever.

An enhanced policy shows your employees that you care about their health, and actively want them to invest time back into themselves.

Contribution to a fairer future



Which side of history do you want to be on?

When you offer inclusive parental leave policies, you are making a statement and contributing something incredibly valuable to the future. The more organisations that say “no” to restrictive, exclusionary policies, the less accepted they will become overall. It is a long process, but each inclusive policy is a step in the right direction.

Enhanced parental leave policies help to undo decades of restrictive gender roles; harmful stereotypes and assumptions that have led to women bearing the full brunt of the domestic minutiae while men deal with the pressure of being the sole breadwinner.

What does it mean to have an inclusive parental leave policy?



Now that we’ve made the case for inclusive parental leave policies, how do you actually go about implementing them? What essential elements make up a truly inclusive policy? Here are a few steps you can follow.


Training for management to support employees



This starts from the top down.


It’s essential that management is fully trained and knowledgeable on all aspects of parental leave, so they can act as a positive example and speak with authority on the topic. Most crucially, it benefits the parents; a well-prepared line manager leads to a less stressful parental leave.

Ensure that there is a solid structure in place to support parents on every step of their journey, and that everyone is on the same page so that they know what to expect. Talk about their plans, work out how much communication they want during their leave, and make sure to arrange a final meeting before it starts.

Create a trusting, family-first culture


As we’ve already mentioned, it is not enough to simply have the policies. Your employees need to truly feel comfortable and supported when it comes to taking up these policies. They need to feel a sense of trust and autonomy, and know that they won’t be looked down upon.

According to data gathered by Fertility Family, over one in six people have delayed having children because of their career, suggesting that the issue of companies making their employees feel obligated to put off their family plans is a widespread one.

This needs to change. A trusting culture - and a culture that openly values and prioritises family - is the first step to eradicating the idea that people need to pause their life plans in order to get ahead at your company.

How could your company be more “family-friendly?” This is usually a question of flexibility. Do you offer flexible hours? An Employee Assistance Program to support new parents’ wellbeing? Analyse what you’re currently doing, and where you could improve.

At Thrive, we firmly believe that family comes first - and strive to create a culture that supports this in our actions, attitudes and policies. We find that when people feel they have time and space to invest into what’s important to them, they then have more time and space to excel in their job roles.

A return to suit every parent


Have we made it clear enough already that one size does not fit all?

The same applies to "return to work" processes. During leave, some people prefer the occasional check-in to be kept in the loop, whereas others prefer more regular updates. Make it clear that they are still as much a part of the team as when they left by offering regular opportunities for social events (if they want to come.) Babies welcome, of course.

Along with social events, KIT (Keeping in Touch) days help parents feel continually involved. They can use these to keep on top of projects, join in with meetings, or simply as a way to slowly get back into work.

When new parents officially return to work, they may feel discombobulated by the absence. That’s only natural, and patience is key. Make sure they have everything they need to get back into the swing of things, including up-to-date training on all processes, and the opportunity to discuss any gaps that they might be concerned about.

Inclusive policies



To get a true sense of what an inclusive policy would mean to your people specifically, take the pulse by soliciting feedback from your team. Find out what is in high demand, how you’re doing well already, and how you could improve. Once you discover what matters most to your team, you can work this into your policy - resulting in the parental leave policy that works best for your specific organisation.

For more general guidance on enhanced paternity leave, you can peruse this fact sheet from CIPD or read the government’s official guidance.

And for even more information on how to support your employees in parenthood and beyond, why not explore Thrive Content? This off-the-shelf content solution has thousands of resources to equip you and your teams on everything from parental leave to cyber security.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.