Nick Davies (34) lives in London and works full time as a Programme Director at the Institute for Government. His wife Rebecca also works full time in finance and they have a nine-month-old son Quinn.
Nick's Shared Parental Leave Journey
My wife and I both took six months shared parental leave after our son was born and we have both subsequently gone back into full time roles. We’re lucky enough to be able to employ a nanny. It’s ruinously expensive but our son loves her and she provides us with more flexibility than nursery.
Being able to leave our son with someone he has a great time with, has made coming back to work a lot easier.
A typical day
On a typical day I tend to leave the house 15 minutes earlier, having got our son up and given him a bottle. In the evenings, the assumption is that I will be home by 6pm so that my wife can work a little later if necessary. The only difference in my working hours since my son was born is that I’m leaving the office a little earlier – 5.30pm rather than 6/6.30pm – so that I can get home for bath time. If necessary, I can then catch up on work after dinner.
In term of equal parenting, there’s certainly more that could be done by government, employers and dads. I would love to see more equal, flexible working patterns with the expectation that both mums and dads will take sizeable chunks off time to raise their children.
What's needed to drive more positive change for dads?
Raising a child is expensive and until there’s greater financial support from government for those taking parental leave and more affordable childcare options then parents are always going to have to make difficult decisions. I’m lucky that my employer provides equal enhanced parental pay for mothers and fathers. Many other employers don’t, effectively saying that they can afford to have women out of the office on parental leave but not men.
Finally, dads, particularly those in senior positions, need to start taking more parental leave. In some firms (thankfully, not mine!) it’s seen as a badge of honour for dads to take as little time off as possible. Workplace culture needs to change and that must start at the top.