Three UNSW staff members share their experiences of taking parental leave following the birth of their children.
UNSW’s parental leave provisions, including Primary Carer Leave, allow parents at UNSW to share caring responsibilities post-childbirth with their partner. This gives families greater opportunities to spend quality time with their young children and increased flexibility for parents returning to work.
“I love spending time with my kids, and it will be amazing to have the opportunity to get to know my new daughter properly by having this time away from work,” said Simon Kalucy, Manager, Research Candidature, who is taking Primary Carer Leave in 2019.
Simon is one of a number of fathers who have elected to take or have taken Primary Carer Leave in the last two years since the scheme was introduced in 2017.
“My kids are nine, five and three months old. I’m going to get the whole summer holidays with all three of them and get the chance to see my new daughter grow up, rather than catching snippets before and after work and then at weekends.”
“It seemed like a remarkable opportunity, one that I might never have again."
Peter Secomb, Manager, Student Financials, shared parental leave with his partner, who also works at UNSW, in 2018 following the birth of their second child and saw it as too good an opportunity to pass up.
“Being able to witness the bond between my partner and our first child develop during her parental leave was something I found very special,” he said. “When HR confirmed that primary carer leave was available, I was excited by the prospect. My partner was extremely supportive of me doing this and rightly pointed out, how often will this opportunity be available?”
Leon Terrill, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, agreed, while noting the subsequent impact it had on his partner.
“It seemed like a remarkable opportunity, one that I might never have again, and it made it considerably easier for my wife return to work.”
And what was the best part?
“Definitely strengthening my bond with the kids. Spending that much time with my kids, being responsible for their wellbeing on a daily basis and seeing them grow and change, even in a short time, is something I’ll remember,” said Peter. “I was able to witness milestones like first steps, new words and settling in to day care at the end.”
“The best part was getting to know our son better, and I think he probably got to know me better as well,” added Leon. “It varies for everyone, but I would say that I’m more comfortable and confident with the different aspects of being a parent.”
“The experience gave me enormous confidence in parenting and I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who has this opportunity to take it without hesitation.”
Taking an extended break from work does come with its implications though, both career-wise and financially.
“Obviously, there is a financial implication given that I’m going to take some of my leave part-time, but there was no difficulty really,” said Simon. “Considering the impact on my career was the hardest part of the decision.”
Leon and Peter shared the caution when making their decision on taking the leave, but after such a rewarding experience, they both recommend other new parents take the opportunity if its available to them.
“Obviously, you are going to miss out on some opportunities if you are on parental leave for an extended period; that’s not new, it's something mothers have been dealing with for longer,” said Leon. “There have been a few things that I’ve missed but I seriously doubt I’ll regret the decision.”
Peter added: “The experience gave me enormous confidence in parenting and I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who has this opportunity to take it without hesitation.”
For more information on Primary Carer Leave, please visit the Flexibility & Leave section of the HR website.
Primary Carer Leave arrangements have been incorporated into the new enterprise agreements, which were endorsed by staff in October 2018.