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Work-life balance matters at Covéa

Work-life balance matters at Covéa In 2008 my partner Rachel and I relocated to Reading where I joined Covéa Insurance in Commercial Distribution, specialising for the last six years in Commercial Schemes. Our careers are important to both of us, with my wife working towards becoming a Chartered Fellow for the CIPD.

We got married in 2013 and had our first child, Theo, in September 2015. When Theo was first born I took two weeks off so that we could spend time together as a new family. This time allowed us to bond and share all the important firsts which come thick and fast, as well as spreading the load as everything was new to us.

Whilst Rachel was pregnant a new regulation came into force which allows parents to share the mothers’ maternity leave – Shared Parental Leave (SPL). We knew from the start that we wanted to take advantage of this as it would let me spend quality time with Theo for an extended period, whilst allowing Rachel to return to work to continue her career. I was the first person in Covéa Insurance to request SPL and after carefully reading the Covéa Insurance Flexible Working Policy, worked closely with our HR department and manager to discuss a proposed working pattern that would allow me to work flexibly whilst still fulfilling business needs.  Both Covéa Insurance and my wife’s employer were keen for us to do this and it was agreed that I would take the last 13 weeks of Rachel’s maternity leave off with Theo, from the start of July 2016.

Prior to that, I discussed the possibility of working compressed hours for the first months of Rachel’s maternity leave. Covéa Insurance encourages working flexibly where possible and when the role accommodates, so my manager and I discussed how I could manage my time to enable me to have more time to support Rachel when Theo was first born. Fortunately, my role and team were flexible enough to allow me to compress hours across four working days which meant I had an extra day per week to spend with Rachel and Theo.

While on my SPL, I successfully applied for the internal position of HR Insights and Systems Lead.  I was able to discuss my flexible working hours with the recruiting manager during the application process and it was confirmed that they could be accommodated and I could take on this new role with the compressed working hours I had been working prior to my SPL. During this time my wife also had a compressed working week agreed. The flexibility of her company meant that I could take advantage of Keeping In Touch (KIT) days to meet my new team and get an understanding of my new role, which in turn meant I was able to hit the ground running when I returned full time from SPL.

Now that Rachel and I have returned to work, the flexibility allowed by both our companies’ means that Theo is only in childcare three days per week and the rest is valuable family time. At times it has been challenging to balance my work and home life, but with the support of the company and my team it hasn’t caused any problems.  My need to work flexibly did not provide a barrier to gaining a promotion and we are successfully able to achieve a good work life balance whilst continuing to further our careers.

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