Last month, working dads had a great press-boost. The Guardian reported on MPs’ plea for 12 weeks paid paternity leave and the BBC outlined how new dads feared being side-lined by taking parental leave.
How to manage maternity is often at the top of the list for a line manager when a team member announces their pregnancy. But what about when your team member tells you they are going to become a dad? What if they ask for Shared Parental Leave or apply for flexible working?
This is a life-changing event for your team member, and needs to be managed carefully. New dads can feel overwhelmed as well as exhausted, and may feel culturally that it’s hard for them to approach you to ask for flexibility.
Here are some pointers:
- First things first, CONGRATULATE when your team member announces they are going to be a father! This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget when your mind may be running ahead thinking about timing of paternity leave…
- Make sure you are familiar with your company’s paternity policy, or check out the statutory guidelines here: https://www.gov.uk/employers-paternity-pay-leave. Ensure your team member also knows where to look for entitlements
- Take note: we are in ‘generation daddy’! More and more new dads want (and need) to spend more time with their families and strive for a happy work/life balance. This is especially the case if their partners are working – they may well have to share the pick-up/drop-off to childcare which means lots of early or late meetings may well be more challenging now. It’s so beneficial for children to be able to spend more time with dad too
- Talk about plans for paternity leave as you near the due date – ask your team member for the dates he intends to take off as paternity leave and make the assumption he will want to take off the full allowance. Make sure they are recorded in your team calendar
- For the first 3-6 months following the birth, be prepared for the fact that your team member may well be physically exhausted, so make allowances and ask if he needs any support. See here for tips on how to cope with sleep deprivation at work: http://sleepdeprivationinworkingparents.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/tips-for-coping-with-sleep-deprivation.html
- Consider offering your team member informal flexibility during the early months – discuss how he may be able to work from home, come in later or leave earlier, or use annual leave a couple of days a week so he can establish a better work/life balance if he needs it
- Your team member may also be entitled to apply for flexible working. All employees with more than 26 weeks of service now have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents or carers as it used to be. It’s important that your team member is aware of this and feels comfortable having this conversation with you. For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working/overview
- Your team member may wish to take Shared Parental Leave, where he could choose to take an extra 50 weeks leave up to his baby’s first birthday. You should look to bring this up as many dads feel uncomfortable raising this in fear of any impact long-term leave could have - however this is such a rare opportunity to spend one on one time with his new baby and family. See more information here: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay-employer-guide
- Show an interest in your team member’s family – and share your own stories, especially if you are a parent yourself. Talking about children at work enhances personal wellbeing and relationships
- Look out for internal support networks for new parents or new dads – if there aren’t any, suggest your team member starts one – networking with like-minded individuals is hugely supportive
Happy homes, happy employees and high engagement scores go hand in hand…giving your working dads a gentle embrace is an obvious next step for leaders to make.’