Embracing parenting – the benefits of equal paternity leave

We hear from Hodge on the importance of equal leave for all parents

In the UK, statutory provisions allow mothers up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, with the first six weeks at 90 percent of their usual salary, followed by a reduced rate. Fathers or partners are traditionally granted a mere two weeks under statutory paternity leave. By significantly extending its paternity leave, lenders like Hodge are standing out to promote parental equality within the workplace.

Supportive lender with innovative policies

Hodge has taken significant steps to support colleagues by offering 20 weeks of fully paid parental leave for mothers and fathers  or partners of those expecting a baby. This means an additional 18 weeks, fully paid leave on top of the standard two weeks statutory paternity leave, available to new parents with more than 26 weeks of continuous service.

This policy ensures both mothers and fathers can enjoy precious early moments with their newborn without the financial pressures or stresses often associated with unpaid leave.

The motivation behind an equal paternity leave policy

Charlie Ellaway, Hodge’s chief people officer explained that while maternity pay was being reviewed at Hodge, a proposal to increase to 20 weeks from 16 weeks was firstly considered. It was following this we recognised as company we wanted to better support the wellbeing of our staff and acknowledge the challenges both partners face when balancing work and new parenthood.

Family first: Ross Williams’ shares his personal experience

Ross Williams is head of pricing at Hodge. Just before Christmas last year, Ross and his wife welcomed their second child, Rory, into the world. With Hodge’s extended parent leave, they could fully immerse themselves into being a new family of four, caring for Rory and helping their eldest child, Theo, adapt to his new role as big brother.

“The first few weeks are a whirlwind of excitement, hospital appointments and many family gatherings, that and a lot of sleepless nights. Having 20 weeks to fit all this in alongside spending some really valuable time together really made the difference.”

Extended parental leave policies offered by organisations like Hodge, are also there to take away some of the financial worries that come with a growing family. Ross and his family still have childcare costs as Theo was attending nursery, but the paid time off gave a sense of relief. 

“As we had our eldest still in nursery at the time, childcare costs were still coming in. Seeing as the Hodge paternity was at full pay, this was another weight off the mind.”

For many new parents, both mothers and fathers, an extended period away from the office can feel daunting, wondering how we’ll slot back in, what we may miss and how much will change in our absence. For Ross, he found unwavering support from his manager and team during his extended leave. He remained connected with the team and was kept in the loop for any key developments. It also offered opportunities of growth and development for the team while Ross was on paternity leave.

“I couldn’t have asked for better support from Hodge on this front. The team also benefited. Deputising for me gave them a wider exposure around the organisation. What was really pleasing was learning of their positive experiences and positive feedback from stakeholders when I returned to the office.”

The positive impact for companies

Charlie Ellaway commented: “The positive impact on retention has been significant, retaining talent across all genders within the company. Colleagues have told us that this policy has been a deciding factor when choosing their career paths, so we know it makes a real difference to their life-work balance. It’s another great benefit to offer our valued colleagues.

“For companies considering a similar change, my advice is simple: absolutely do it. Policies that don’t offer equal leave supports an outdated norm – that women are the primary caregivers. At Hodge, we see this just isn’t the case. It’s not how many families balance their home life and we want to echo this by supporting parents as equal caregivers. We’re enabling our colleagues invaluable family time but we also see increased engagement and numerous business benefits.”

Striving for equality in the workplace

Hodge believes organisations across the UK should be showing a greater commitment to supporting employees equally. Policies such as equal parental leave highlight how important it is to foster a culture of inclusivity and equality. The way organisations treat all parents reflects how society views the responsibility of raising children.

We know it’s important both parents have the chance and support to actively participate in parenting, which helps them manage the shift from home to work and back more smoothly.

On future plans, Charlie Ellaway said, “We continuously review all our policies, ensuring they not only comply with current requirements but also anticipate future needs. We’ve introduced changes to neonatal and carer leave a year ahead of requirements, driven by our commitment to doing what’s right, not just what’s required. We remain dedicated to reviewing our ‘leave at Hodge’ policies to stay competitive and provide fair and meaningful rewards to our colleagues. This includes recent adjustments to our holiday policy linked to length of service and the introduction of paid carer leave.”