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Shared Parental Leave - video casebook

This resource draws on real life accounts of couples taking Shared Parental Leave (SPL) to provide useful insights for parents and employers.

Lizzie and Simon

Fact file

Names and jobs:
Lizzie works in the pharmaceutical industry; Simon, used to work for a county council but is now a full-time stay-at-home dad

Children:
Daughter, 5 months

Leave taken: Simon and Lizzie took two months’ shared parental leave at the same time, when the baby arrived. Simon then left work in order to continue looking after their daughter and Lizzie decided to take her remaining maternity leave entitlement (10 months leave in total)

Pay during leave:
Lizzie received 6 months enhanced maternity pay and 6 months statutory maternity pay. Simon received 2 months of statutory shared parental leave pay.

Post-leave arrangements:
Simon is now a full-time stay-at-home dad, and Lizzie has returned to work full time.

Lizzie explains the couple’s thinking: “We are both feminists, and we wanted to try and both look after our child. We felt that the role of the man and the woman in a heterosexual relationship were both as important…interchangeably important… and so we wanted both of us to take a role in the raising of our child.”

Lizzie also felt that taking a year out from her career might have had a negative impact on her career, explains Simon: “I think using SPL can help mitigate the impact that taking time off in that first year has on your career, if, say, the mother took six months and the father took six months, rather than just the mother doing twelve months… it might be just a little bit easier to recover.”

Originally the couple had planned to take the first three months off together, with Lizzie then going back to work full-time and Simon carrying on with the rest of the SPL until the point where he would need to decide whether or not to quit work and continue as a full-time dad.

But they quickly decided that they wanted more time with the baby, and they now talk about SPL as having been a life-changing experience. “It’s the longest time we’ve ever spent together, and we’ve got a lot closer as well as bonding with our child,” says Lizzie. “So we’ve bonded as a family. We’ve used the time to travel and go to places that we wouldn’t necessarily have gone to if we hadn’t had this time.”

Crucially, the SPL gave Simon the opportunity to gain enough real, hands-on experience as a father to decide that stay-at-home fatherhood was right for him. “If I hadn’t had SPL, having to make that decision would have been much more difficult because I would have needed to make that decision before the child was born, in order to give the correct notice period,” he says. “Because it’s flexible, too, it meant that we could have gone the other way and me gone back to work and Lizzie stayed off.”

So in the end, after two months off work together on SPL, Simon resigned from his job and Lizzie took the remaining maternity leave entitlement.

Overall, says Lizzie, what SPL has given the family is the freedom to make big decisions about “the way we want to live our lives…so that we don’t just live to work but rather work to live….we’ve put together a way of living, so that we can sustain Simon staying off work.

Research partners

  • As part of an academic project, researchers from Manchester and Lancaster Universities would love to hear more about your views of SPL. If you would be happy for the project team to contact you with a link to a brief survey please type your email address (otherwise please just press submit).