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Published: 20 Jun 2023

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield – Winner 2023, Best for Fathers, sponsored by Babbu

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s (URW) clear commitment to creating a supportive culture for fathers through connection is underpinned by best-in-class policy and fully embedded, evidenced by an impressive record on take-up.   

Policy support 

From the outset fathers and partners are kept informed about options, processes, and entitlements. Through a 121 meeting with their line manager and HR they receive guidance that signposts support information and pre/during/post-leave checklists. Fathers are entitled to enhanced Paternity Leave at four weeks full pay from day one of employment, which can be taken more than 56 days after birth. There is a recognition of the importance of father involvement in a child’s early life with Shared Parental Leave (SPL) being matched to enhanced Maternity Pay of 13 weeks full-pay and 13 weeks half-pay, which can be taken any time up in the baby’s first year. Two wellbeing days are also available per year to support fathers and others to manage their mental and physical health. 

Flexible working 

URW understand that employees perform better when they have flexibility over when, where and how they work, and that employees with parenting and caring responsibilities are more productive when they have a good work-life balance. This translates into flexible working being a day one right to request, the availability of phased returns leaves of absence, and a hybrid model with amended hours.  

Holistic support 

Becoming a father is celebrated by the sending of a hamper after a birth or adoption, setting the tone for embracing this part of an employee’s identity. Bring Your Kids to Work Days are an annual event. Fathers are assigned a buddy whereby current parents provide support and forge friendships with new or returning parents. Contact is maintained throughout leave via the buddy and line manager, and invitations to a Keep in Touch breakfast. The transition back to work is eased through a return to work plan and weekly line manager catch-ups, as well as a New Parents Coaching Workshop specifically designed for Fathers and Partners, where they meet other members of the family support network. Other family-friendly benefits include private healthcare and access to a 24/7 GP. 

Measure of success 

The take-up of SPL was an impressive 50% in 2022, compared with a national average of 2%. 100% of fathers and partners took their full four weeks paternity leave and 100% of eligible employees opted to receive the new fathers coaching and rated it highly. Parental leave returners are surveyed for HR to capture feedback and further enhance support in the future.       

Graphic for the Best for Fathers category of the Working Families Best practice Awards