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New fathers at insurance giant taking five months of parental leave on average

Aviva found that since introducing shared parental leave, the number of men taking advantage has soared.

Aviva building
Aviva building

The number of new fathers taking advantage of shared parental leave at one of the UK’s biggest insurance firms has jumped 23% in a year, according to new research.

Aviva said fathers have taken an average of five months leave compared with just two weeks before the company launched equal leave for new parents.

The firm was one of the first in the UK to introduce 12-month parental leave for all new parents, including six months at full pay, back in November 2017.

Bosses found in 2019 there was an 11% rise in the number of paternity days taken compared with 2018, pointing out fathers are keen to be more involved in their children’s lives.

Lindsey Rix, Aviva chief executive of UK savings and retirement, explained: “When barriers are removed, and the right culture is in place, men are keen to take more time out of work to care for their young families.”

She added that a big reason for the shift is because senior leaders at Aviva are themselves taking months, instead of weeks, off on parental leave, helping to normalise it.

Aviva found that fears among fathers remain – with 43% saying they were worried that taking longer leave could impact their career. This compared with 20% of mothers.

The biggest difference between men and women is shifting to more flexible working once returning to the office.

Only 2% of men changed their contracted hours, compared to 29% of women – although nearly a third of fathers said they are working more flexibly “informally”.

Ms Rix added: “Many male colleagues have said equal parental leave has helped them to better understand what returning to work has long been like for new mums.”

Overall, women at Aviva continue to take a significantly longer period of parental leave compared to men – 311 days versus 158 days – and only 18% of mothers said they did not change their original working hours, compared to 62% of fathers, the insurer added.

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