Sean Crawford-Meyler is a Decision Review Expert at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
We all know how much more top firms can do to improve their parental policies. But one organisation leading on this front is the FSCS (who is also sponsoring our 2021 Working Dads survey). We asked one of their employees, Sean Crawford-Meyler, about taking up the FSCS’s enhanced paternity scheme.
I chose the option of enhanced paternity leave because I knew it would give me the time and freedom to learn the ropes of parenthood, care for [my daughter] Ruby in the crucial first few months of her life and support my wife in what is one of the biggest life-changing events ever.
The time away from the FSCS was challenging, exhausting and incredibly rewarding. The time went by in what felt like a blink.
I am indebted to the FSCS for allowing me to have that time with Ruby at the beginning of her life. It really allowed me to immerse myself in the parent role and to learn everything together with my wife. I believe simply being present and there for the first five months of Ruby’s life allowed us to develop a strong bond and connection. I feel that I have such a good understanding of her just by watching her grow every day. I also feel very confident as a caregiver by having that time to regularly perform tasks like changing her nappy, preparing her food, changing her etc.
One thing I want to add, spending that precious time with Ruby means she feels comfortable around me and happy for me to put her to bed. This is so great as it means my wife and I are truly able to share all parts of the caregiving role. It also means my wife has the freedom to work a normal day and not feel pressured or rushed to be back home by a certain time.
I really did not know much about the parental policies at FSCS when I joined. I was under the assumption it would be the standard parental leave that most companies provide.
I felt some anxiety when asking my manager about this. However, she readily assured me that it would not affect my career progression and was quick to celebrate the good news which is just amazing! It was the kind of reaction I had hoped for if I’m honest. That initial conversation really put me at ease.
FSCS were incredibly supportive throughout the entire process. In the build-up to Ruby’s birth, my manager and HR would often check in to see how I was and how Katie was getting on. I thought this was lovely and felt there was genuine interest in my well-being too as I was going to be a first-time dad. The People Team were also able to address any questions I had about the enhanced paternity leave really promptly and explain everything really clearly.
When I was on paternity leave, I was sent a lovely gift set from FSCS which was really touching. In the first three months, I was also given lots of time to focus on looking after Ruby which was great. My manager contacted me again with a view to returning to work in month four of my leave. I think I had the right amount of support from FSCS during the whole process.
To any dad thinking about applying for enhanced paternity leave, do not give it a second thought. The one thing we cannot buy is time and to be given the opportunity to spend five months with your child is an incredible opportunity. Having utilised enhanced paternity leave, I feel so happy with the bond I have created with Ruby. I have a genuine confidence in my parenting skills by simply having the time to learn everything and be present.
Definitely go for it! You will be incredibly happy you did it in the long run.