At AGL, we’re committed to embedding a culture where flexible working is the norm and not the exception. That’s why it’s great to see all our people – from our operational sites to our corporate offices – enjoying the benefits that flexible working has to offer.

For Mick Loprese, a Plant Maintenance Engineer at AGL’s Loy Yang A power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, taking flexible parental leave this year has allowed him to build a special bond with his young son, Jordy – while also ensuring his wife Jess could continue to pursue her career.

This is Mick’s story

Sunday 6 January 2019 was the best day of my life.

This was the day my wife, Jess, and I welcomed our first child into the world – a boy, Jordy. From that moment on, our lives changed forever. When I held this tiny baby in my arms for the first time, the love I felt was unimaginable, something I’ve never felt before.

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AGL Loy Yang Plant Maintenance Engineer Mick Loprese with his new son, Jordy

It’s now been around ten months since we took him home, and we’re going great. Jess is a natural, she has taken everything in her stride. One thing that makes it even greater is the 20 weeks of paid primary carer leave which I’ve been lucky enough to take through AGL.

I’ve worked for AGL here at Loy Yang for nearly five years, starting as a Fitter and Machinist in the Station Maintenance team before being seconded into the role of Plant Maintenance Engineer within Fuel and Ash. I’m now responsible for the routine and breakdown maintenance of the Coal Plant and the Ash Disposal System.

Ever since I applied for parental leave, my management teams here at Loy Yang have been extremely supportive, and willing to do everything they could to make it happen for me. I have ended up taking 20 weeks flexibly over 12 months – which means by wife can now work part time, and on the days she works I stay at home to look after Jordy.

From fuel to fatherhood

Jess returned to work on 26 April, and that was my first day as primary carer.

I didn’t sleep much the night before. I was suddenly worried about taking care of our son on my own for the first time, the responsibility felt a little overwhelming.

I imagine many parents feel this way, but I soon got into the swing of things.

Now, I feed Jordy, bath him, change him, play with him – and we’ve had some of the best days. I take him to play group, where we play with the other children and I can teach him things, and also learn things myself. I also take him to swimming lessons every Friday, and sometimes attend doctors or midwife appointments.

One thing I’ve noticed, which saddens me, is that despite all the societal progress we’ve made, I am still the only dad at every single one of these events. The play group is nine mums, and me. I often hear these mums telling each other with exasperation that their partners “just don’t get it".

While my wife may still say the same thing about me at times, at least I’ve been lucky enough to be the primary carer for multiple days and nights at a time. Clearly not all fathers have the opportunity to take this time to bond with their children, which is such a shame. They will miss out on so much, as things change so quickly during that first year!

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to take parental leave, and would highly recommend it to all the new dads out there. This experience has given me the chance to bond with my son so much more than the average dad, and it has also given my wife the opportunity to return to work, which means she hasn’t had to put her career on hold for us.

This is such an awesome initiative by the company, and by far one of the best things about working here.