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The London School of Economics & Political Science, Winner 2014, The Cityfathers Best for All Stages of Fatherhood Award

The judges were impressed by The London School of Economics (LSE)’s continuing development of its provision for fathers. A very strong suite of policies and support is available, and a major initiative is the commitment to pay fathers up to 16 weeks APL at full pay, providing a real incentive for couples to share time off. This commitment to full pay is key as it recognises that one of the main barriers to fathers taking extended periods of paternity leave is a financial one. This is part of a wider strategy for the LSE that aims to ensure that it treats fathers and mothers equally, deliberately building a reputation as a diverse, fair and flexible employer that attracts and retains the best people.

There is a wide range of support for fathers, in addition to policy provisions. Fathers are able to take part in workshops for parents, including: 1. ‘Balancing Work and Being Mum’ (places are given to mothers, even if they are not LSE employees, because it helps to support the fathers who are LSE employees); 2. ‘Balancing Work and Being the Carer of a Disabled Child’; 3. ‘Balancing Work and Being Dad’; 4. ‘Positive Parenting’; 5. ‘Balancing Work and Being the Carer of an Adult’. There is also a mentoring scheme for fathers and networks for working parents and carers. Account is taken of the impact of APL in terms of career development and work output, (e.g. in terms of research output which is taken into consideration as part of probationary periods and promotion) and any father taking 26 weeks of APL will return to a term’s fully paid, teaching-free research leave.

Benefits are comprehensive. Fathers are given paid time off to accompany the birth mother (partner or surrogate mother) to attend antenatal appointments. There is two weeks’ fully paid paternity leave, and up to 16 weeks’ APL on full pay. Fathers can take pre-adoptive leave on full pay, contractual adoptive leave and pay, and they have a right to a phased return to work. In addition, the LSE provides an on-site subsidised nursery, emergency childcare, and emergency leave on full pay.

Fathers also get one-to-one support. They can arrange meetings with HR staff to provide tailored advice on paternity or adoptive leave, APL, keeping in touch and flexible working (including which options are available and how to make a request for flexible working or phased return to work). They also have the opportunity to seek support from a trained mentor on managing the transition to becoming a (working) parent.