How do you think most men would react if given the same amount of parental leave and pay as their female colleagues? Insurer Aviva, which has offered all employees the same parental leave benefits since 2017, has been crunching the numbers and you might be surprised by the results.
The results have been very impressive and show the insurer’s parental leave policy has proven to be incredibly popular. More to the point, the ability for both parents to take leave during the pandemic was particularly welcome as other forms of support were not available.
Aviva has revealed:
· 1,900 people in the UK have taken parental leave since the policy was introduced in 2017
· During 2020, 99% of Aviva’s new dads took parental leave, a staggering 84% taking at least six months
· Aviva parents specifically said being able to take parental leave during the pandemic was vital for supporting their partner and child as few other services were available to them
· A YouGov survey carried out on behalf of Aviva of the wider population found two fifths of parents with children under 18 would have liked more support from their employers during the pandemic.
An Aviva dad speaks!
On the subject of pandemic parents, I spoke to Andrew Cunningham, an Aviva employee whose fourth child was born during the pandemic and who took several months leave. Andrew explained it had been great to be on hand and support his wife following a hard birth. He was also able to help out with his other children and said the extended leave had provided a great opportunity to bond with his new daughter.
You can listen to our discussion by clicking on the badge below.
Aviva’s parental leave policy
Aviva has a particularly good reputation for having strong, equal parental leave policies. The present policy was introduced in 2017 and offers new parents in the UK 12 months leave, six months paid at full pay.
Aviva’s new research has shown that the number of men and women taking the leave has almost equalised. The one difference is that men on average are taking 24 weeks of leave whereas women are taking on average 44 weeks of leave. That said, the amount of leave taken by men has increased from 21 weeks since 2018 so as the policy has bedded in, it has become more popular.
Commenting on the success of Aviva’s parental leave policy, Danny Harmer, Aviva’s Chief People Officer, said:
“Take-up of parental leave in 2020 shows it’s a benefit people really value and was a welcome reassurance to families facing the stresses of a pandemic. Indeed, it proved to be essential for many colleagues while support networks, such as grandparents and parenting groups, were unavailable over the last 12 months.
Harmer went further still and made the following observations about the impact of remote and hybrid working:
“A key challenge with hybrid or remote working is that those with caring responsibilities – who are more likely to be women – become less visible unless organisations act consciously. Our hope is that policies like equal parental leave help to balance caring responsibilities between genders and remove any gender based or carer-based barriers to career progression.”
Mum benefits too
While equalising leave for dads is still considered a radical step, it offers numerous benefits to mums as well. Firstly, mums benefit from increased support at home. All the research shows a dad who is heavily involved in family life from day one, stays involved reducing the long-term domestic burden on mum.
Unlike the Government’s shard parental leave, mum does not lose any leave entitlement if dad exercises his right to take some time away from work. Aviva’s leave is available to both birth partners as an individual right.
Another huge benefit is that equalised leave allows women to concentrate on their careers if they wish. It removes the pressure forcing them to take on the caring role when dad can do this instead.
Equalise leave and men will rise to the challenge
What’s fascinating about the figures Aviva has revealed is that men are taking parental leave because they receive the same benefits as women. The company has shown that when leave is equalised and properly paid, men will take it.
It would be nice to see men taking as much leave as women, but at least the travel is in that direction. I also suspect the fact mums are at home for longer has something to do with their wish to breast feed.
The other element to all this is the pandemic. With so little support elsewhere, pity those families where the dad receives the statutory minimum pay and two weeks leave. The pandemic has shown just how vital equal parental leave policies are.
There’s no doubt Aviva is a trailblazer with its equal parental leave policies. I hope in the years to come this becomes standard practice among all industries, but credit to Aviva for leading the way and showing the benefits of this policy.
To find out more about Aviva’s parental leave policy and to see how it helped parents during the pandemic, follow this link to the Aviva website.
Top image, Picsea on Unsplash.
Bottom image, Zach Lucero on Unsplash.