Maternity leave is an important benefit but it’s important that dads aren’t left out of the conversation.
Drinks giant Diageo recently announced its plans to offer 26 weeks’ paid paternity leave to new fathers in Ireland. It’s a major policy change and, with more focus being put on the need for paternity leave as well as maternity leave, this could be the start of many more policy changes at other companies.
Of course, there are a number of major employers that are already offering paternity leave. New Relic, for example, offers 10 weeks’ paternity leave.
We spoke to Tom Doherty, a senior technical training specialist at New Relic, who took his 10 weeks of paternity leave for his second child. “This is an amazing benefit,” he said. “It was important that I could be there not just to help with the new baby, but also to help our then four-year-old feel like he wasn’t being left out. This allowed my wife all the time she needed with the baby without feeling pressure or guilt about our little boy.”
Doherty has been with New Relic since 2014 and recently received an EMEA customer success group MVP award. “My background is in software development. I primarily worked as a Java developer and eventually a .Net developer. Though I love technology, people will always be my preference. This is why moved away from engineering and into customer-facing roles,” he said.
Doherty said the most important benefit of the paternity leave is the extra time he can spend with his family without worrying about bills. “It really gave us all the time we needed to fully welcome our new addition to the family and keep all the other business, such as school and after-school activities, ticking over.”
He pointed out that the 10 weeks of paternity leave is in addition to the five weeks’ annual leave that New Relic already offers, meaning he had 15 weeks to spend with his family. New fathers are allowed to take the paternity leave at any time they like during their child’s first year.
“It allows dads to help out and take on some of the responsibility. I think it’s important for fathers to be there not just to help, but to see what it’s like to be home with the kids all day and give mothers a break,” he said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to bond with the baby which you would otherwise miss.”
Doherty said that for employers reviewing their policies, they should remember that if they want excellent employees, they need to be an excellent place to work. Part of that means showing employees that you value them and understand what’s important to them.
“Paternity leave is a great way to show that you care for your employees and what’s happening in their lives. It also shows that you are thinking about them long-term rather than just the work they are doing right now,” said Doherty.
“If you value your employees, they will value you. And once that mutual respect and admiration exists, it honestly doesn’t matter how much time off they have or where they work from – they will get the work done and then some.”