Ford U.K. is offering employees paternity workshops that include trying on a pregnancy suit to foster empathy for their expectant partners.

Following the success of similar maternity-group meetings, Ford recently held the first of three paternity workshops planned this year.

Ford’s maternity workshops provide expectant mothers with practical information on matters related to maternity and flexible working arrangements. The paternity workshops allow men to share their experiences as they prepare for parenthood.

The session starts with an ice-breaker – a pregnancy suit for participants to try on. The suit, which includes an “empathy belly,” simulates some of pregnancy’s physical effects and gives dads-to-be insight into how their partners may be feeling while carrying the weight of a baby.

The workshops cover maternity and paternity policies. The information is available on the automaker’s internal website, but Ford says bringing expectant fathers together creates a personalized environment where they can talk about their excitement and share experiences or concerns.

The expecting fathers are given information on statutory entitlements, company policy and provisions, health and safety considerations, flexible working policy, the return-to-work process and the salary sacrifice.

Support also is provided through the Ford Parent network, an open forum for parents throughout the company to seek and share advice, information and support. The network donates a Disney book to each workshop participant to encourage reading to their child even before it is born.

Research suggests men are less likely to request flexible working arrangements than women and Ford is committed to supporting flexible working. It includes the subject in the paternity and maternity workshops.

Lara Nicoll, manager-Ford U.K. Diversity and Inclusion, says flexible working arrangements occur in several areas within the business. One example is that of Linda Carpenter and Christian Wilms, who share the position of product planning and strategy director for Ford of Europe.

“During a life-changing, often nerve-wracking, experience, Ford wants to make sure parents feel fully supported and confident that they know what will happen when they return to work,” Nicoll says. “We have run maternity workshops for a number of years, and it is important that we now offer the same advice and support to expectant fathers.”