Takeup of equal parental leave at Aviva remains high after four years

Father and daughter drawing together
  • Equal parental leave has now been taken by over 2,500 people at Aviva, almost half of which (1,227) were men
  • The average length of paternity leave taken has increased by three weeks over the four years: in 2021 it was 24 weeks, compared to 21 weeks in 2018.
  • The average length of maternity leave has slightly decreased over the last four years, from 45 weeks in 2018 to 43 weeks in 2021.
  • 268 Aviva parents have now taken equal parental leave more than once, including 131 men taking it twice. 

New data shows that Aviva’s equal parental leave policy has proved to be consistently popular since the company first introduced it. 80% of men at the company have taken at least five months out of work when a new child arrives, and 79% of men have taken over five months for subsequent births.

Now an established benefit at Aviva, over 2,500 colleagues in the UK have taken the leave since 2018, with 268 colleagues taking it more than once, including 131 men taking it twice.

Aviva became one of the first UK employers to introduce an equal parental leave policy, offering new parents in its UK business 12 months’ parental leave, with six months at full basic pay. The company introduced the policy to help remove barriers to career progression, challenge traditional gender roles and level the playing field for women and men at home and at work when a new child arrives. It has also given men the opportunity to spend more time caring for their young families, an overwhelmingly positive outcome shared by many parents at Aviva.

Danny Harmer, Aviva’s Chief People Officer, said:

“The chance to spend more time with a new arrival during the important first few months has proved to be hugely beneficial for thousands of our Aviva parents. From supporting their partners, to the positive impact it has on mental wellbeing and engagement with family life, equal parental leave has been literally life-changing for our people.

“Equal parental leave is now an important part of our culture at Aviva as a family-friendly employer. Men taking parental leave have a better understanding of the choices female colleagues have to make when balancing parenting with their career which makes them more empathetic colleagues and leaders too. It has also inspired our dads at Aviva to change the way they think about caring responsibilities.”

The number of men and women taking equal parental leave at Aviva is almost equal (1,338 men v 1,385 women over the last four years). But female colleagues are still predominately the main carers, taking an average of 10 months maternity leave over the four year period, and utilising the full range of parental support on offer, including: keeping in touch (KIT) days; flexible working; up to 35 hours of pro-rated paid carers leave per year and half a day of additional leave to support their child’s first day at a new school.

Aviva’s analysis also shows that it’s largely women who go part-time on their return. Over the last four years, one in five Aviva employees who have taken equal parental leave made contractual changes to their working pattern and of these, nine in ten were female. In 2020, out of the 671 people who took equal parental leave, 137 people contractually changed their hours (20%) within six months of their return. Of these, just 15 were men.

Danny continues:

“While organisations must keep challenging themselves to do more on inclusion, equality at home is critical to achieving equality at work and in society. We know that if companies offer parental leave and, importantly, make it acceptable for dads to take it, they will. This helps to challenge gender stereotypes about breadwinner and caregiver roles.

“Equal parental leave alone is not a silver bullet though and needs to be backed up by other inclusive wellbeing policies such as carer’s leave, paid fertility leave, specialist menopause support and mental health resources. At Aviva, we also offer pregnancy loss support for all colleagues affected.

“Even then, all of this can only be effective when leaders create an inclusive culture across their organisations. The case for equality and diversity isn’t up for debate and I am optimistic that most businesses have moved from the ‘why’ on to action.”

Paddy Arber is based in London and took equal parental leave from October 2019-May 2020:

“Becoming a new parent was such a strange and magical time. I wasn’t under pressure to work – we could focus on us as a family. And now I feel like I can do a better job because I can be a parent and a colleague, I don’t have to hide any part of me. So equal parental leave has really set us on a good footing. It transforms a lot of people’s lives, including mine.”

Rachel Hoxley-Carr is based in Norwich and took equal parental leave from September 2020-May 2021:

“I’ve actually taken both maternity and paternity leave at Aviva. I took six months off in 2017 when I gave birth to our first son. Then in 2020, my wife gave birth to twin boys. We were in the process of moving house around the time the twins were born, so we moved in with my parents. Having extra moral and practical support at that time was really helpful. It was the best months of my life. Things would have been quite different if I’d only had two weeks off.”

Dean Gillam is based at home in Surrey and has taken equal parental leave twice – from February-August 2019 and March-October 2021:

“Equal parental leave is an incredible workplace benefit at Aviva. I’ve got a group of friends who all had kids around the same sort of time as me, but they got two weeks off whereas I got six months, both times. To spend so long with my children… I’ll never get that time again. My dad friends are a bit envious.”


We can offer case studies from Norwich, London and Bristol.

About our equal parental leave policy:

In the UK, Aviva offers up to one year of leave, of which 26 weeks’ is at full basic pay for parents employed by the company within the first 12 months of a child’s arrival. This applies to employees in all UK offices and locations. Aviva’s parental leave policy entitlement includes:

  • Equal amount of paid and unpaid parental leave when a new child arrives, including adoption and surrogacy.
  • Is available to full-time and part-time employees across all levels of the company.
  • No requirement to share the parental leave between parents.
  • If both parents are employees of Aviva, each has their own entitlement to leave and pay, which they can take at the same time.

Aviva wellbeing policies:

  • First day of school: All parents in the UK are entitled to half a day of additional leave to support their child’s first day at a new school.
  • Caring commitments: UK employees are able to take up to 35 hours of pro-rated, paid leave per year, as well as 35 hours’ urgent time off for dependents. They can also take up to three months of unpaid leave. 583 UK employees took carers’ leave in 2021, each taking an average of just over 11 hours.
  • Paid fertility leave: UK employees can take up to 42 hours of paid leave a year for fertility treatment.
  • Domestic abuse awareness and support policy for our people and customers, in partnership with SafeLives.
  • Mental health support: free access to our wellbeing app, as well as external apps Headspace and Thrive. 59% of UK people leaders have attended mental health training to help them support their reports with their mental health.
  • Pregnancy loss support: information and support for colleagues and leaders of colleagues who suffer a loss, whether it happens directly to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother.
  • Specialist menopause support through Peppy app, which offers a one-to-one consultation, resources and live chat services, and training for people leaders.
  • Volunteering leave: up to 21 hours a year for colleagues to spend on any cause close to them.

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Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK's leading diversified insurer and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in India and China.
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  • Aviva is a Living Wage, Living Pension and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at https://www.aviva.com/about-us/our-people/
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