Extended paternity leave the norm at The Nursery

Brand communications company The Nursery prides itself on championing employee wellbeing. Associate director Adam Staton explains how he benefitted.

the nursery extended paternity leave


How did the policy for extended paternity leave evolve into being at The Nursery?

We became employee-owned in November 2020 and an ongoing principle of the new ownership structure is that Partners (the name our employees chose for themselves) are encouraged to give feedback and take involvement in all areas of the business. Our family policy was an area which Partners quickly identified as one for improvement.

A resource group of volunteers was formed with the self-assigned objective of ‘creating a family policy to match the best in the industry’. The team conducted industry and nationwide benchmarking as well as highlighting pain points in their own personal experiences. The policy which they designed was approved by the board and implemented in 2022.

As well as extended maternity and paternity pay deals, it includes support for child loss during pregnancy, interest-free fertility loans, fully-paid parent preparation leave prior to maternity leave, a fully-paid tapered return to work and paid time off for a child’s special ‘firsts’ (e.g. first day at nursery, school concerts etc).

What did taking those extra weeks mean for you and your family?

I took 14 weeks leave when my daughter was born and I’m incredibly grateful for being able to do so. She’s our first child and like so many new parents, the first few months were a whirlwind of sleepless nights, endless Googling, and appointments with a myriad of health professionals.

Knowing I didn’t have to think about work during that time was so helpful and meant I could focus solely on figuring out parenthood with my partner and bonding with my daughter. Being present for all of the appointments and milestones along the way was brilliant because it meant we experienced everything together and learnt all the lessons as a family. Had I not been able to take such an extended period of leave, I’d probably still be figuring things out that Mum had nailed in week three.

What did your other dad friends say when they found out you got extended leave?

They were all quite shocked – it is so far from the normal two weeks that lots of them really didn’t know what to make of it. I think a few wondered why on earth I’d want to take that long off work! It came up in conversation at our antenatal classes, where most of the other dads were taking something between ‘a long weekend’ and three weeks off. Again, there was some shock but also pretty much universal envy – even before the little ones had arrived, the reality of having to juggle a newborn with work felt like a huge challenge and one I was super grateful I could put off until she was a bit older.

Have you found the policy has changed how the Nursery is perceived as a company?

Everyone I’ve told has seen it as a positive thing and one which reflects really well on the company. We’re not a massive corporate with endless resources and I think people can see that this is a bold thing for a smaller business to implement, particularly given how different it is to the norm (of two weeks paternity leave). I think it’s also a powerful thing internally, and hopefully helps to make The Nursery somewhere that partners can feel proud to work at.

How did your extended leave impact the company? We know that modelling good behaviour is key to changing minds?

Thankfully the other partners in my team were brilliant at stepping in and covering my workload while I was away. I suspect it meant that some of their ‘to do’ lists got a bit longer on some days and I’m sure there were odd occasions where my name was being cursed, but thankfully they were kind and polite enough not to call me once while I was away. I’d like to think I’d do the same for them should they choose to join the parent club.

What plans do you have to improve family policies moving forward?

Since launching the policy, it has been updated to now include breast-feeding support, and whilst not directly within our family policy we have also launched a full menopause policy this year. This includes investment from the company to provide medical support as well as a commitment to those Partners effected to make suitable workplace adjustments.

The Nursery is employee-focussed and is always looking to support all life stages of all our Partners.

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