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Around 285,000 couples in the UK are eligible every year for shared parental leave, but take-up could be as low as 2%. At Lendlease, we think balancing work and family life is important andoffer enhanced parental leave (six months at full pay) irrespective of gender.
Andrew from our Development business recently returned to work from six months parental leave. We caught up with him to find out about his experience.
Six years. On bids, it’s getting various people on the bid lined up, so developers of finance guys, legal, tax etc. It’s a lot of time pitching internally to make sure we get the capital investment from our internal body to fund those projects. Make sure we’re tackling projects in the right way.
Your priorities change quite a lot, so you have to become much more effective in prioritising what’s important and what’s not.
Great – in part it’s about the emancipation of women, in part it’s about men playing their full role as parents. And Lendlease have given the capacity for men to feel that they can take the same amount of time off as a woman would do is fantastic. I couldn’t say anything more highly of it. It’s brilliant, I just wish more people would make use of it. If the opportunity is there, you I think you should grasp it with both hands.
I went through what I suspect a lot of pregnant women go through in that it took me a couple of weeks to have that conversation with my manager that I wanted to take some time after my wife gave birth. I took six months off.
It’s always a lot quieter at home than you realise. I just assumed that I’d be off four or five days a week on my own but that there would be loads of people around, which isn’t true. When I would meet up with friends, who perhaps work from home, I’d be spending my time looking after my son Owen. So, actually, sociallyit’s quite hard. I made sure that at least one night a month I would go out mid-week to keep some semblance of normality because it can be hard being at home with the kids.
I had him from about seven months. Getting a sense of what it was like when my wife was off with him was brilliant. The coming back to work is interesting, to get your head around nursery drop offs or if Owen is ill – getting that balance right has been hard. That’s where flexible working really comes into its own. I’m quite strict now about making sure I don’t work at weekends.
We walk a lot at weekends and I cycle to work, which is a free hour and a half of exercise every day. You never get stuck on the train as well. I actually startedreading more while I was off as well. I’m not a great reader per say, but it helped me get off my phone and really switch off. Of course, spending time with my son. The balance it has brought to our relationship as well is quite important. It can still be too easy to default to expect my wife to do the lion share of looking after Owen. Having taken that time off, we have a shared perspective.
We know taking family leave can be a big change for everyone involved. To make the transition as smooth as possible, Lendlease has introduced the Returners Guide – an online booklet giving step-by-step information through the process, for anyone thinking of taking family leave or managing someone who is.