Sam shared parental leave with his wife Chloe from November 2015 – May 2016 after their second son Max was born. After six months of SPL, Sam returned to work, continuing on a part-time basis, and has joined the Accent on Family committee, bringing his experience to benefit other parents. Sam has two children and took three months off when he had his first son in 2013.
Why did you take Shared Parental Leave?
My wife and I knew the SPL legislation was coming into force but we didn’t know how Accenture would adopt it. We were unsure what the pay and benefits would be and whether it would be financially feasible for us to take SPL.
If there was going to be little or no pay for partners sharing leave then it might have been a different decision for us. I remember the day when we found out Accenture was going to offer full pay—we were over the moon. The offering really cemented the decision for us, it was just something we could not let pass. To have time with my children was the main reason I wanted to do this. When my first son was born I was working out of town and generally away five days a week; it really wasn’t what I had expected fatherhood to be like. So the second time round I just wanted to spend a lot more time with them, and my wife was also keen to return to work sooner this time round.
Do you think SPL has had an impact on your career?
I don’t think it’s directly impacted my career at all. I haven’t missed any opportunities that I otherwise might have had. People don’t speak to me any differently.
How did your colleagues and peers react to your decision to take SPL?
My peers were really supportive, and surprisingly a lot of clients were also excited and enthusiastic about the idea. They told me they wished they had the opportunity to take more parental leave when they had their children. A number of my peers have now also gone off on SPL—I know of five just on my account.
How has SPL shaped your relationship with your child and family?
I have a really strong bond with my kids. With the Friday off every week we always try to use that to do fun things together. I feel SPL and working part-time have really boosted my confidence in being able to look after my children too. My wife and I share parental duties equally, and neither of us is really the main caregiver. I can’t imagine it any other way, and can’t imagine how it would be had I not taken SPL.
What have you learnt from this experience?
It has really helped put things into perspective for me in terms of work/life balance. Careers are important and at Accenture everyone wants to succeed, but my career will hopefully last about 40 years, and taking SPL is such a small part of that time. It’s essentially giving up less than a year to take an opportunity which might only be once in a lifetime. When people are asked what the most important thing in their life is, most people say family. For me, taking SPL was about being a little bit brave and putting that priority into action.
I did have massive misconceptions about how many personal goals I was going to be able to achieve in my time on leave though. When I started on SPL I had a long list of things I wanted to achieve—writing a blog (for which I’ve only managed a few posts), some "me" time, spending more time on hobbies and interests, etc. I didn’t get round to checking off much from the list, which frustrated me slightly at the time. I soon let that go and enjoyed the ride a lot more, focussing on what’s important, which was spending more meaningful, quality time with my family.