Vodafone’s equal parenting policy makes dad Chris proud

Chris Parkinson will be able to take much more leave with his second baby because Vodafone has beefed up its paternity policies


Tech firm Vodafone recently implemented a new equal parental leave policy. Each parent can now take 16 weeks off at full pay following the birth of a child.

That’s good news for Chris Parkinson, Senior government affairs manager with the firm. His second child is due this summer and this time round he’ll be able to take much more paternity leave. He told us what he’s looking forward to and why other companies ought to follow suit

What family have you got?

My wife and I have a 16 month old son. And our second child is due in late August.

How much paternity leave did you get with your first child?

I took two weeks paternity leave immediately after my son was born, and then used some annual leave to work part-time over the following month.

Why are you keen to use the extended parental leave this time round?

I was keen to take as much time as possible for our last baby, and being at home since March 2020 has confirmed to me the difference that being a present father has for me, my wife, and for our child. The new policy will allow me to support my wife and both of our children for far longer. She will be able to re-start her business more quickly. And I will be able to bond with the new baby and continue to bond with our eldest. It will also allow me to take a more equal role in caring responsibilities when we first become new parents.

What was the reaction from your manager when you said you wanted to use the new policy?

Extremely positive – my manager was one of the first people I told about both pregnancies, and he has encouraged me to take full advantage of both the old and new policies.

What do you anticipate will be the benefits of having longer at home with the baby?

The new baby will be able to bond with both parents and our eldest is less likely to feel replaced with the new arrival. It will provide my wife with considerably more support while she recovers and goes back to work. It will allow me to be an active, hands-on parent, experience the development of both of my children, support my wife and at the same time not have to worry financially.

Have you always wanted to be a hands on dad?

Yes, my initial plan was to take three months unpaid leave for our first child. The new policy makes the decision so much easier and will allow me the opportunity to be the parent I want to be.

How does your partner feel about the fact you’ll be around longer this time round?

Very pleased that I’ll be around for a lot longer, though I suppose she’ll have to listen to more of my jokes!

Does the policy make you a better employee?

Yes, it makes me very proud of Vodafone. I know just how important 16 weeks of looking after my family with no financial concerns and not going back to work after what feels like five minutes with the baby will be. It makes me feel like Vodafone is treating me and my family like human beings, rather than as a resource.

What would you say to any employer thinking about adopting an enhanced/equal parental leave policy?

Do it! I think it’s a no-brainer. It’s good for dads and non-birthing parents, it’s good for mums, it’s good for the children and, in terms of retention and staff morale, it’s good for the business.

What would you say to any dad-to-be thinking about taking extended paternity leave?

Every family is different and what is right for mine may not be right for others, but I would always say it is worth thinking about and discussing with your partner. I have a relationship with my son that is far stronger than if I hadn’t been around as much, and I hope it will be the same for the second child. You hear a lot in the run up to having your first child that the father can feel like a spare part: being around helps prevent that, as you’re as confident looking after the baby as the mother, and when you’re not doing that you can support your partner.

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