Lewis Silkin launches enhanced parental leave policy

Lewis Silkin launches enhanced parental leave policy

Ciara Fulton

Lewis Silkin has launched a newly enhanced parental leave policy offering up to 12 months’ leave and six months’ full pay to new parents.

The policy, spanning the firm’s offices in the UK and Ireland, comes into effect for parents whose children are due to be born or adopted from 1 April 2024.

It provides for up to 52 weeks’ leave, with 26 at full pay, for all new parents regardless of gender identity, which can be structured as employees wish — leave and pay can be taken in discontinuous blocks across a 12-month period.

Employees and partners of the firm will be able to avail of the paid leave entitlement after one year’s service.

Leave and pay do not have to be shared with the other parent (where there is more than one parent), meaning that an employee can benefit from leave and pay regardless of the leave and pay choices of the other parent.

The policy also provides for up to an additional 12 weeks’ fully paid leave for employees who are the new parents of a baby who is receiving or has received neonatal care.

There are also reduced targets immediately following parental leave for new parents.

Ciara Fulton, head of Lewis Silkin’s Belfast office, said: “Historically — and in the legal industry in particular — parenthood has often been seen as a brake on career progression, particularly for working mothers. But having a child or a career should not be mutually exclusive choices.

“As a firm we pride ourselves on being supportive and inclusive, and a place where people can reach their professional potential while also living a full life outside of work — including by starting a family if they choose to do so.

“Our new parental leave policy, universally available to colleagues irrespective of their gender or role in the firm, is a true reflection of that longstanding culture and we are proud to be championing a shift away from traditional gendered parenting roles.”

Julia Paulding, chief people officer at Lewis Silkin, added: “This is a real step forward in terms of equitable support for new parents. We want everyone at Lewis Silkin to feel that they can raise a family, if they wish to do so, and also progress in their career.

“While policies like shared parental leave have been positive steps forward in principle, take-up is low across all sectors — in large part due to the complexity of the system. That’s why we have put in place a single policy applicable to all team members regardless of any leave arrangements their partner may have in place.

“In taking this step we are supporting women by moving away from traditional gendered parenting roles, and giving all new parents in the firm the flexibility and freedom to be present in the critical early months of their child’s life.”

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