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I took shared parental leave for six months

Chris Taylor
By Chris Taylor | July 10, 2018

 

For Chris, having the opportunity to support his wife’s career and enjoy being a dad was a ‘winwin’ scenario. He spent April to September 2017 on shared parental leave.

For me, shared parental leave is an absolute no-brainer. If you can take the time off with your new family, then why not? My wife and I have very similar careers and taking advantage of our right to share parental leave reduced the time she was out of the workplace. It also gave me the chance to spend lots of time with our son – time I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to have. Not only did I get to know him and see him grow, I connected with support networks such as the NCT and met other local parents through various baby classes. Looking back, I think it has made my wife and I more flexible parents, enabling us to tag team a bit better. Now that I’m back from shared parental leave, Dynamic Working makes it easier to plan family arrangements around work. My wife and I both work from home one day a week, and we share nursery pick-ups and drop-offs between us. When I was working as a lawyer in private practice, my working pattern was very unpredictable, which would have made things tricky. Having that flexibility makes a big difference and I really value being able to see my son at the beginning or end of a busy day.

I think Dynamic Working may be one of the reasons why my team has quite an equal split of men and women, and more women in senior positions. I found the Working Families Network at Barclays really useful. You get advice on how to manage your work/life balance, and it’s a chance to meet other parents and share your experiences. In particular, I’ve met some other fathers coming back from shared parental leave and found a support network.

I’ve spoken about my experiences of shared parental leave at a few internal panel events, most recently for the Barclays HeForShe campaign. In the UK, legislation and a Barclays policy are in place to allow both parents to share maternity or adoption leave, but it is a relatively new idea and notalways well understood. Hearing from people like me can be really effective at raising awareness and helping others think about how the flexibility could benefit their family or colleagues. There’s alwaysa mix of people – some who are expecting, some who are thinking ahead about maybe having children in the future. Shared parental leave is a legal right, but people still don’t use it very often and we should take it more seriously. It makes sense to me for both parents to split the responsibility and fun of lookingafter children in the first year. Improving uptake is about increasing awareness and changing the culture, and I think it has the potential to deliver positive benefits for colleagues’ work/life balance as well as promoting diversity. It’s a win-win.

Who do you identify as an inspiring Woman@Barclays?

Stephanie Pagni, General Counsel for Barclays UK, has been very successful at Barclays. She’s really developed and progressed her career while tackling challenges across lots of different areas of the business – and she’s balanced that with a family life as well. Her belief in taking opportunities when they become available is very inspirational.
Inspiration How to achieve a healthy work/life balance