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Parental Leave Adventures in a Campervan
Hi, I’m James. I look after our Talent Acquisition team here at Immersive Labs. I joined the company back in September 2019 when we had fewer than 100 people. Since, I’ve had the opportunity to help develop the business with some exceptional people – and we’re now past the 300 mark!
The last few years have been incredibly busy, and I’ve often needed to work long hours to keep up our hiring pace. But that just means I’ve learned a lot! I’ve had a real impact on the company too, even winning an award for “fastest out the gates” at the 2019 Christmas party – which turned out to be the last in-person event for a while.
I became a dad in April 2021, and it was hugely daunting for me. I’d spent the past two years focusing on work, getting through the pandemic, moving house, and rearranging a wedding (twice!), so I was more than a little worried about how I would find the time to spend with my new daughter Matilda and be the dad I wanted to be.
Luckily, Immersive Labs and my team (particularly my manager, Greg), have been tremendously supportive. The first two weeks of paternity leave after Matilda was born were amazing. The time off allowed me to support my partner and spend crucial quality time with Matilda during her first few days.
When I came back to work, I was pretty tired most days due to the sleepless nights! My team and the business understood that I couldn’t do the same hours or meet the same goals I had previously. With the increasingly high expectations and the current size of the team, the Talent Acquisition department needed to grow. So, we expanded from three to eight people across the UK and US, and we’re now looking for a further two people to help the business continue its rapid progress.
Even before Matilda arrived I knew I wanted to spend time with her, watch her grow, and help her become a strong independent woman in this world. Fortunately, we have shared parental leave in the UK, and my partner was generous in sharing some of her maternity allowance with me so I could take more time off work in addition to my usual holiday allowance of 33 days.
So, what did I do in my parental leave?
As many parents will know, the first two weeks were all about survival! In most companies, two weeks of paternity leave is usually all that’s granted to new dads.
I then took five weeks in September, which was all about adventure and spending time together as a family. We drove around Scotland in a campervan, including the NC500, outer Hebrides, and the Lake District, with a five-month-old baby. I have plans to use another two weeks of shared parental leave in March before Matilda’s first birthday and her mother returns to work.
In the UK, shared paternity leave is paid at a statutory rate as standard. It works out as £151.97 per week. However, Immersive Labs’ enhanced shared parental leave benefit meant I was paid at 90% of my salary, so we could do so much more without the additional stress of worrying about money. Even better, Immersive has just increased its parental leave to be paid at 100% of your salary from March 2022.
The time to spend with my new family was such a rare opportunity that very few companies offer, so I would urge you to look into it. It’s such a precious time in early family life that isn’t always offered to partners. It gave me insight into how tough looking after a little person is, which has made me more empathetic and supportive of my partner.
Find out more about shared parental leave on the Government website here: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay
Julia Cox, Commercial Account Manager at Immersive Labs