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Twelve months after insurer Zurich introduced a new paternity leave package the results are in. Most dads are taking much longer leave to be with their baby
New figures from insurer Zurich show yet again that if men are offered generous paternity leave they will use it.
The majority of new dads at Zurich are taking up its new enhanced paternity package which was launched last year. Seventy percent are taking the full 16-week paid paternity leave entitlement whilst 78% take three months or more.
The announcement that 12 months on from its launch the enhanced paternity package has been a success follows external research published by the insurer showing two fifths of new fathers don’t take the amount of paternity leave that they feel they need to bond with their new children. For those not taking any time off, almost half (45%) said it was because they couldn’t afford to take a drop in their salaries. Statutory parental pay for dads currently stands at £151.20 per week.
Zurich’s research also showed that more than one in four fathers put their careers on the backburner when starting or growing their family. Many cited juggling the demands of parenthood as well as career progression was as just too challenging. However, when looking at the spread of people across its UK business who have taken time out to be with their new families, nearly one in five (19%) are in senior roles. In fact, 67% of this group took the full 16 weeks paid leave.
Zurich is also calling for the Government to make the publishing of family related leave and pay mandatory. Being transparent about parental leave, pay, and benefits from the outset is increasingly critical to attracting and retaining the right talent to thrive and compete by demonstrating that employees can progress their careers as well as having a family.
Commenting on Zurich’s family leave take-up, Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR said: “The reaction we’ve had from parents about our gender-neutral family leave policy has been overwhelmingly positive, with the majority of parents telling us of their intention to take the full 16 weeks leave. This forms part of a broader approach to family friendly working and flexibility for parents and carers.
“It’s 2020, family life has moved on, and our approach as employers must too. By enhancing statutory provision for all parents, we are supporting them in playing a more active role in family life.
“To allow more families to benefit, we would urge Government to enhance the statutory pay for fathers and second parents, which in turn will shift the dial and encourage more employers to follow suit.”
Zurich launched its new ‘family friendly’ policies for its 4,500 UK employees last September. This includes: up to 16 weeks full-pay for all parents; support for families whose children are born prematurely with additional paid leave for the premature period; paid leave to support through the IVF process; paid leave to support people with miscarriage; a refreshed policy for those with caring responsibilities; and a new bereavement and compassionate leave policy.
Josh Dac is a Construction Trading Underwriter for Zurich. He and his wife Francesca had their first baby in December 2019 and were among the first parents to benefit from Zurich’s equalised family leave package. Their own circumstances mean that this was a huge support to them.
Aurora was born on 17th December. Unfortunately, there were complications during her birth, which left Francesca with some trauma and injuries – to such an extent that her recovery is ongoing. Aurora was also very unwell with a fever and high calcium levels. Both mum and baby spent the first 3 weeks in hospital, which meant a very trying start to their life as a family.
The two months following Aurora’s arrival were spent back and forth to the hospital with ongoing tests and treatment to get her calcium levels down. Thankfully they got to where they needed to be Aurora is doing fine.
Josh adds; “Having the 16-week paid family leave was invaluable to us, I really can’t put into words just how important it was to have that time, to get through everything we had to go through as a family. We are also grateful that we were able to enjoy time together for a month or so before Covid-19 hit which was amazing.”
Josh returned to work in April and is also benefiting from Zurich’s approach to flexible working. He explains, “I’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to change my working pattern to four longer days, giving me an extra day at home with Aurora. This will be incredibly useful when my wife goes back to work, but also will be great for my own wellbeing, giving me that valuable time with my daughter.
“I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I’m excited be getting stuck into work, feeling refreshed and knowing that my family has been fully supported. It’s put us into a really good position to continue with life as normal – as much as it can be right now….”