16th January 2024

Meet Alex: My experience with Parental Leave

Picture of employee
Alex Harkett
Compliance Analyst

As a brand-new parent, what could be more important than spending time with your new family? And what could be more precious than the time to do so?

My name is Alex Harkett and I have been working at Vodafone since 2017, when I made what I consider to be my best career choice ever; leaving a small print works in Melksham to join Vodafone UK in Newbury. Like many others who work here, I have had a varied career so far, touching on digital design, social media and now, Compliance. Late in 2021 I made the jump over to Vodafone Group.

When my wife and I found out we were expecting in 2019, I was excited to see some new changes to the paternity policy, which would luckily come into effect just before my child’s birth and enable me to spend significantly more time with my wife and new daughter than would have previously been possible under older policy.

My daughter was born on the 22nd June 2021 and, as any parent will tell you, your world turns upside down (in a good way) instantaneously.

Sleepless nights, endless nappy changes, a total emotional rollercoaster and a complete change of lifestyle come with an overnight shift into a new journey of discovery. And here is where Vodafone’s generous paternity policy excels.

Although parenting presents its own unique challenges for each family, the first couple of months were arguably the toughest for me as we adjusted to our new normal. The policy allowed me to spend these first two months focusing solely on my wife and daughter. It allowed my wife time to heal from her caesarean surgery and afforded me time to look after and bond with my daughter.

As an employee whose partner is having a baby, adopting, fostering to adopt, or having a baby through surrogacy, you can take up to 16 full weeks off as Parental Leave. Parental Leave is applicable to the secondary caregiver, regardless of their gender. The term ‘secondary caregiver’ applies to the parent who is not taking maternity or adoption leave.

The leave must be taken in two periods of up to 8 weeks, with the first to be taken no later than 6 weeks after birth or placement and the second within 18 months. This affords families lots of flexibility in terms of returns to work, or simply gives the opportunity of spending quality time together, doing whatever you wish.

If the extended time away from work was not enough, the policy also offers 6 months of an 80/20 period, during which time you are only required to work 80% of your contractual hours, whilst receiving 100% pay and benefits.

In May this year, my wife and I welcomed our second child into the world, and I began another period of leave, which this time proved even more valuable, as we balanced the arrival of our new son with the fact that our daughter is now two years old and requires just as much attention as ever. Thanks to Vodafone, this inevitably tough task has been made that little bit easier. I look forward to taking my second period of leave in the new year and enjoying some quality time with my family.

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