shared parental leave
This Father's Day, as I spend time with my family, I'll fondly remember a rather disastrous plane trip in Brazil two years ago, when my eldest daughter spent the entire journey vomiting onto me until I had no available clean clothes left! It's a good lesson for any parent - no matter how prepared you think you are, your kids will always keep you on your toes.
On the second anniversary of a revolutionary policy that gives parents the opportunity to split time caring for their new born baby, studies have revealed that as little as one percent of men have so far taken up the opportunity to do so.
Paying Parental Leave at the level of Sick Pay (the minimum suggested by the EU) would hardly change that overnight; Statutory Sick Pay in the UK is just £89.35 per week - less than the already-paltry £140.98 that those eligible for SPL can claim.
But it's not just the practical steps which companies can take. There also needs to be an understanding and recognition of the emotional impact upon a father returning to work from parental leave. Just as it is widely understood and anticipated that mothers may feel conflicted and vulnerable during those first few days and weeks, the same might be true for the returning father.
To all those slightly irritating MPs who screech with rage if anyone mentions the low take-up, I say "relax", we'll get there in the end. And if you hadn't over-egged the likely take-up rates, then the legislation might never have made it over the starting line, so screech away.
It's now two years since Shared Parental Leave gave families a new way to share care in the first year of their child's life. After two weeks of compulsory maternity leave, eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay with their partner.
The major advantage of SPL is that both parents can choose to take leave off at the same time for a greater period than the initial two weeks paternity leave afforded to fathers, partners and secondary adopters. In theory, the employees themselves can decide how to divide the leave between them and this may be equally.
SPL is a process heavy right with many notice requests, time limits and entitlement issues to be resolved. As a result, employees are unwilling to opt in because they don't know the process or they don't understand it.
Now, a year on, I wouldn't change a thing. Both my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend some special one-to-one time with our wonderful daughter. Both of us also got to experience the different worlds
My time off might not have made me love my employer more (although If you're reading this, boss, of course I love you, and not only because you're paying for the mortgage and the girls' clothes) but it has made me a better employee. Paradoxical as it sounds, not being at work has made me better at work.