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New father urges others to use family-friendly policies

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A TRAILBLAZING father who has become the first man at his company to take extended parental leave is encouraging other Islanders to ‘go for it’ if they want to take time off following the birth of a child.

With new family-friendly rights which allow all new parents up to a year off work due to come into force later this year, James Logan said he hoped that one day men taking parental leave would become the norm in Jersey.

His employer, global consultancy firm Sionic, introduced a shared parental leave policy in August 2018, but it was not until the following year, when he and his fiancé, Yasmin, learned they were expecting a baby, that he paid the policy much attention.

His daughter, Liberty, was born in October and Mr Logan, a management consultant, is now part way through a three-month period of parental leave.

‘People tend to assume Liberty’s mum is taking six months to a year off work, which she would love to do, but it would be quite detrimental to her business,’ he said.

‘I get mixed responses. Almost everyone thinks it’s amazing and men especially explain they wished they had that opportunity. Most men then can’t seem to help telling me the hardships they went through when their children were born, the lack of or zero support they had from their employers. It can leave you feeling as if you are being done a massive favour. Spending a decent amount of time with your newborn is not a favour, it’s equal opportunity – it’s 2019.’

Mr Logan, whose partner is self employed – with December being her busiest time for work – added that the States decision to extend leave and make it equal for both parents was ‘overdue’.

‘We are a small enough island to be nimble, forward thinking, lead the way and be ahead of the curve,’ he said.

‘We still speak about a gender pay gap – well why are we expecting women only to take prolonged periods of time out of their career to care for their new babies?

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‘Legislation for me is the minimum. The minimum companies have to do to stay within the law. I always think it’s a shame when I ask friends what their employers do for family-friendly policies – some of these companies span the globe and make significant revenue for investors, yet offer the bare minimum they have to to their employees to stay within the law and want to be seen as employers of choice.’

In October the States voted 38 votes to six to approve proposals to increase parental leave to 52 weeks for both parents, six weeks of which would be paid for each by their respective employers. The leave, which can be taken in up to three blocks over a two-year period, is also open to surrogate and adoptive parents. Although new mothers are currently entitled to up to 26 weeks off work following the birth of a child, the other partner is legally entitled to just two weeks of unpaid leave.

Mr Logan, who took two weeks off work following Liberty’s birth before returning to work for a month, said his boss was supportive and urged other new or future parents to embrace the new rights if it worked for them and their family.

‘I think it should just be the norm, however it is not,’ he said. ‘The more men that start using the legislation and family-friendly policies, the more normal this will become.

‘If you decide it is something you want to do, then go for it. The new legislation will help you, but don’t be afraid to ask for more if you feel you need it.’

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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