Shared Parental Leave: “I hope I have inspired others to do it”
Published: 5 Apr 2017
As the Shared Parental Leave scheme celebrates its second birthday, father of two Adam Gretton talks about his experience.
My wife and I decided early on in her pregnancy that I would take parental leave. It was not an option when our first child was born, so we were keen to share leave this time. Marriage is an equal partnership and so the responsibilities of parenting should be equal too.
I had read that not many dads were taking up parental leave and was keen to take up the option. My wife did the first nine months and I did the last three months, looking after my baby daughter and four year old son.
It has been good to spend precious time with the family. Both children have enjoyed me being at home more. I wish I had done a longer period of parental leave.
I have really enjoyed the leave, but it’s been hard work at times. The learning curve adjusting from full-time work was pretty steep! It has made me realise how hard work it is to be a stay at home parent – a lot busier than full-time work, It is definitely not a holiday!
My employer, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, was really supportive. I work in an organisation of 4,000 people and I was the first man to take shared parental leave. I hope to have inspired others to do it.
I think a lot of people still don’t know about shared parental leave and there are still sections of society that have outdated views on childcare. In 2017, it should not be seen to be progressive for a man to take up the option of caring for children full-time.
Of course, the biggest barrier to taking shared parental leave is money. We are fortunate that we have been able to use savings to pay the bills whilst I’ve been off work. I won’t get this time again, so I’m making the most of having more family time.
The Government fund free childcare hours when a child turns three. However, if they are serious about encouraging parents to work, they should introduce the free hours earlier. Also, statutory maternity leave pay should be extended. We will have two children in nursery until our son goes to school in September and the monthly nursery fees will be twice as much as our mortgage.
Take a look at our video case book of parents giving first-hand accounts of Shared Parental Leave.
What lessons can we learn from other countries?