We are on the front foot with matching our enhanced pay for maternity to shared parental leave. We want parents to have choices about how they care for their children. Whatever they choose, we will support them.
Kilburn & Strode Human Resources Manager
Training as a patent attorney requires commitment. Professional exams need to be passed. This takes time. For many, the need to sit exams coincides with a stage of life when we may consider starting a family. Budding patent attorneys are familiar with passing exams through school and university. But doing so with a young family may be a new challenge!
It can therefore be important to understand how a prospective employer views flexible working and parental leave.
I speak from experience. I began my training at Kilburn & Strode in 2013. My wife was pregnant. Fast forward five years, two births and several passed exams: In 2018 our third child was born.
This time, we decided to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL). This involves splitting the available 52 weeks leave between both parents. The 39 available weeks of parental pay can also be split. It’s a flexible system; there are very few restrictions on how you can split the leave. We opted for nine weeks of “joint shared parental leave”, which means my wife and I took leave simultaneously. This just runs the clock twice as fast. I took SPL when my daughter was around 6 months old.
The major benefit was having time to invest in family together. This was especially valuable coming around a year after I finished the process of qualification. After spending so much time studying to pass exams, it was great to be fully present in family life for a while. I took on the school run, ferried kids to swimming lessons, went on day trips with our three-year-old. This all gave my wife some space to recover from the sleepless nights and deal with a teething tot. We also got more of the boring life stuff done in the week while our eldest was in school so that we could do more interesting things all together at the weekends. I looked after all three kids on a number of days while my wife did something else. I have a renewed appreciation for her; our kids are more demanding than my clients!
The major surprise was how encouraging Kilburn & Strode were. I’ve been here a while and I expected to be supported in my desire to take SPL. We are that kind of place. But I wasn’t prepared for just how positive everyone would be; I was actively encouraged to investigate the options and find something that worked for me. Colleagues who inevitably covered for my workload were gracious and kind. I didn’t experience a single negative reaction. That means a lot.
I’m also really thankful that Kilburn & Strode makes SPL more financially viable by offering enhanced shared parental pay. Any eligible staff member, male or female, will receive full pay for up to 16 weeks of parental leave. This goes well beyond what is needed and shows a real commitment to value diversity and support parents.
All in all, SPL was a fantastic experience and I hope it becomes a bigger part of the work culture in Kilburn & Strode and beyond.
‘Share the Joy’ - is a government led campaign which promotes shared parental leave rights for parents by encouraging more parents to take up the offer of Shared Parental Leave in their baby’s first year: sharedparentalleave.campaign.gov.uk/. It’s a great place to start if you’d like more information on SPL.