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Tim Squires, Pernod Ricard Winemakers Revenue Growth Manager, discusses his experience with parental leave and how working flexibly has helped him balance his work, wellbeing and family life.

Flexible Mindset is a key commitment as part of our Diversity & Inclusion strategy and we are focused on developing, encouraging and role-modelling flexible working practices within our organisation. Being a Family Friendly Workplace is aligned to this commitment and promotes a workplace culture that empowers employees to balance work, wellbeing and family life.

In 2021, Tim Squires took parental leave to care for his daughter Flora. Upon his return from parental leave, Tim discussed with his manager how working compressed hours would help him better manage his family commitments and has maintained a flexible working arrangement to this day.

When did you take parental leave and what did you enjoy most about your leave?

I took non-primary carer’s leave when Flora was born followed by primary carer’s leave at the end of the first year once my wife Amy went back to work. The most enjoyable part was spending quality time with Flora at such a fun and developmental age. It’s rare to get extended time together without having work in the back of my mind so I loved having the option to disconnect from work to focus on my family.

What would be your advice for other men considering taking parental leave?

Absolutely do it 100%, it’s time you’ll never get again with your little one. It’s a good test to see if you can wrangle them on your own, sometimes it’s a real test. Everyone is supportive and it’s becoming the norm so there’s no need to hesitate in making the decision.

How did the business support you to take parental leave?

My manager, colleagues and HR were all very supportive. My manager at the time had a young child so he was particularly encouraging and helped me plan how the work would be managed while I was away. HR also helped to ensure I was across the leave options and the steps I needed to follow to prepare for parental leave.

How did taking parental leave support you and your family? 

It was a massive support. It provided flexibility for my wife to return to work and it took away the need to send Flora to day-care before we were ready.  It also provided financial support and reduced pressure on using my annual leave which meant this leave could be used as intended rather than supplementing for parental leave. The parental leave enabled us to spend more time with family in Tasmania and be closer to grandparents and other family support which we wouldn’t have been able to do if we didn’t have this flexibility.  ​​​​​​​

Since returning from parental leave, how has your flexible working arrangement supported you to balance your family care arrangements and work?

I work compressed hours to be the primary carer for Flora on Thursdays. In a typical week, I work longer hours particularly on Wednesday evenings and early on a Thursday morning to ensure the day is set up and nothing urgent is outstanding. From there, I log-in during Flora’s nap time (a glorious time of the day) for any critical meetings or to manage anything urgent. The working arrangement is well supported by my manager and my team.

The flexibility has definitely helped support my family wellbeing as it has enabled me to co-parent more equally with my wife and share the load. Spending quality time with Flora is awesome, and sometimes it’s even just the little things like having the flexibility to run errands or go to the shops which can make a big difference to reduce stress for Amy & I during the week.

Would you recommend this arrangement to others in the business and what would be your advice?  ​​​​​​​

Yes, I’d definitely recommend it! Everyone’s situation is different so it’s important to work out what works best for you and your team. My advice is to consider what arrangement you need to support your family and what your role requires to ensure the work can still be completed. Be clear and transparent on how you are going to make the arrangement work and be flexible where you can. The onus is on you to make sure it works, so sticking to your commitments is important to develop trust between you and your manager.

How do you feel about the gender stereotypes that prevent men from requesting either parental leave or a flexible working arrangement? ​​​​​​​

It’s definitely changing, and the old-school gender stereotypes are only there if you play into them. We need to continue to be supportive and adapt to flexible work arrangements that work for our teams and the business.  Ultimately in my opinion, everyone is supportive of men taking parental leave (that’s my experience anyway), so it comes down to making sure that people feel that support and are confident to request the leave or flexibility.

The more that leaders in the business take leave or adopt flexible arrangements and the more parental leave is discussed as something available for both men and women, the old-fashioned stereotypes will change.

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