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Three tips for speaking to your employers

Have you and your partner explored all the options with your employers? These tips will help you make the conversation easier.

Share this with your partner! 

1. Know your rights

Most working parents have a legal right to parental leave, including shared parental leave. Don’t lose out, find out your entitlement with this government calculator

For more information on all kinds of parental rights at work, Citizens Advice have plenty of helpful guidance. Click on these links to find out more about maternity pay, paternity pay and shared parental pay.

“I was initially worried about asking my employer for time off as we are a small company and I was not aware of any other dads taking shared parental leave. But they were really supportive and actually, my HR contact said that now she had understood the UK policy she was discussing shared parental leave with her partner.”

Ben, about to be a first-time dad

2. Find out about your employer’s policy 

You may know about maternity leave and paternity leave, but there are other options. Find out everything your employer offers: 

  • Ask about shared parental leave and whether there are other kinds of leave for new parents. 
  • Ask about the paid and unpaid options. 
  • Ask about their return-to-work support and any keep-in-touch days. Parents using shared parental leave are entitled to 20 paid keep-in-touch days which they can split any way they like. This is twice as much as the 10 days for maternity leave alone! 

Your manager or supervisor may not be aware of the latest policy, so ask someone in HR if you cannot find your employer’s policy easily.  

You can take shared parental leave all together or in separate blocks. For example, you may want to take a few weeks after birth, return to work and then take leave again when your baby is a few months old. 

You only need to provide your employer with 8 weeks’ notice before each period of shared parental leave. Similarly, you only need to give your employer 8 weeks’ notice to inform them of any changes to your maternity leave plans. You can decide to take leave at any time, including after your baby is born. 

3. Keep the conversation going

The earlier you speak to your employer the more time there will be to explore all the options and plan it with them. Your manager will probably support and respect your preference for parental leave, including men taking several months of leave. A survey by the Institute for Leadership and Management found that 72% of UK managers support partners who want to share leave equally.  

Even if you have a plan in place for parental leave, you may discover that you need more support at home or that you would like to return to work sooner. You can change your plans at any time, including after your child is born. You can take shared parental leave at any time until your child’s 1st birthday. 


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