Why Don’t Men Take Shared Parental Leave in our Business?

For International Men’s Day we asked Ian Dinwiddy, specialist fatherhood coach in our executive coach team, for his reflections on why men don’t take Shared Parental Leave. We also spoke to new father Phil Bush from Euromonitor who took a sabbatical to help support his partner’s return to work from maternity leave, instead of taking Shared Parental Leave. Here’s a snippet from our conversation with Phil on episode 75 of COMEBACK COACH.

Why do businesses who have a female attraction and retention issue need to focus on men?

A paper in Harvard Business Review reports men and women equally ambitious, but the drop-off is faster for women in organisations where gender diversity isn’t valued. 80% of men become fathers and if we encourage men to take Shared Parental Leave we start to see men in a very different way; we start to change what success looks like in the workplace. Importantly, if employers can’t tell which individuals are going to take leave (women taking maternity or men taking Shared Parental Leave) we start to change the expectations and the culture within business. We make gender diversity and equality more likely.

Why don’t men take Shared Parental Leave in our business?

In a nutshell, men need their own protected period of leave, not a piece of their partner/spouse’s maternity leave. It needs to be well paid and men need to be actively encouraged to take it.


In 2017, two years after Shared Parental Leave was introduced to the UK with little success, coaching psychologist and founder of The Talent Keeper Specialists, Jessica Chivers, wrote on LinkedIn what employers need to do to encourage men to take it.


How to get men to take SPL in a nutshell

Ask expectant fathers to tell you they are an expectant father.

Jessica writes:

If employers really do want fathers to take-up SPL they need to start asking these employees to let them know that they are expecting (a voluntary “DADB1” form alongside the “MATB1” form women are given by the NHS to pass to their employers?). This is the start of cultural change and can be achieved through some simple internal comms, including stories of high profile men in the organisation or wider industry who have taken time out. This raises awareness of what SPL is, that it’s OK to take it and how it could be of benefit to the individual. Women returning from maternity leave are fresh, motivated and come with new perspectives and solutions to their organisation’s challenges – and with support they quickly return or exceed their previous peak performance. They’re assets and it’s about time we treated them as such and encouraged fathers to get in on the act too.

We can’t afford to extend our paternity leave offering, what else can I do to support our new dads?


How can line managers support new fathers in their team?

The main things:

  1. Show an interest.
  2. Make no assumptions.
  3. Know the daily pressure points for the father(s) in your team.


Coaching fathers for sustainable performance & wellbeing

Talk to us about coaching fathers and small group workshops and webinars: hello@talentkeepers.co.uk and +44 (0)1727 856169.