Extra paternity leave makes Joe a positive dad

Verizon Media support families and dads in particular with a range of benefits and initiatives


Joe Espinosa took part in his first ‘bring your child to work day’ earlier this month at employer Verizon Media.

He says he took his baby into the office because that allows his partner Hannah to have one of her keep in touch days while on maternity leave. Push him only a little bit harder and he admits that basically he just wants to show off son Frank that he’s so proud of!

The ‘bring your child to work day’ is just one day but it’s a sign that Verizon Media – the company behind brands like HuffPost and AOL – takes families seriously.

That’s backed up by their generous paternity package that Joe has taken full advantage of. Frank was born at the end of December last year. Joe didn’t go back to his job as agency group lead in digital sales till February.

“After you become a dad you feel like you’re jet lagged,” Joe says. “You feel like you’ve been at a festival for four days!

“It’s tough. You have to learn all these new skills and abilities but knowing you’ve got that freedom of time relieves the pressure. When you’ve got a new baby the fewer distractions you have from thinking about caring for that baby the better even if it’s just not having to worry about what day it is!”

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Flexible paternity leave

The paternity leave policy means new dads can take eight weeks of leave through the year whenever suits them. That flexibility is important given the evidence earlier this year that it’s not the amount of paternity leave their partner has that impacts a new mums health, it’s the ability to take it when most needed.

Joe took an extra few weeks after his statutory fortnight of paternity. “I know where I was after two weeks and I sure as hell was not in a position to go back to work!”

And Hannah knows that when Joe goes back to work after a period of paternity leave, it won’t be long till she’s got him around full time again.

The eight weeks of paternity leave doesn’t impact on normal holiday entitlement. So it adds up to a full three months off. That means Joe doesn’t have to use up holiday time on the important work of learning how to be a father and bonding with his baby.

Joe and Hannah loved their holidays before they had a baby, they’ve been able to carry on travelling as a family since Frank came along, including an ambitious long haul jaunt to California! But Joe’s also just back from a fortnight of extra paternity leave in which he’s been able to do what he calls the ‘normal stuff’ like baby swimming and being a part of Frank’s daily routine.

Better employee

It’s made him a better employee. “I feel incredibly grateful to Verizon Media,” he says. “I’ve been approached about other jobs but I have an interesting role, I work with good people and I’m treated well as a parent.”

He expects that to continue. The firm has a parent and carer group but perhaps more important is the corporate culture.

“There’s a good amount of flexibility,” explains Joe. “The senior team will block out their diary at 4pm to do a school or nursery pick up if they have to.

I don’t feel uncomfortable saying that I’m going to be taking a block of paternity leave and the people who don’t have kids are fine with it. There’s no shame in being a parent here.”

And that goes further. Joe’s aware of his position as a role model for other parents and people thinking about having children.

That’s partly because his decision to use extended paternity leave was inspired by someone else. “I had a client and he took two months of paternity leave,” explains Joe.

“When he came back he sent a lengthy email to his whole company to say how important that time had been. That stuck with me.

I feel I’ve a duty to give the positive take on being a dad. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve said to people that I really recommend taking as paternity leave as you can.”

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Pressure on mum

He’s planning to work one day a week from home once Frank goes into childcare with his partner doing the same. “I feel really strongly about the pressure not being all on mum,” he says.

There’s plenty of evidence out there that extra paternity leave is good for dads, mums and children. But Joe sums it up pretty clearly, “When you’re young and you haven’t got kids you just live your life and you’ve got control over what you do and when. You lose control when a baby comes along. But that extra time off I’ve had has allowed us to stay in control, it’s given us freedom that’s been really valuable.”

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