Today (5 October 2015), the Chancellor has announced that he will extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents.
The planned changes will increase flexibility and choice in parental leave arrangements and support working parents with the costs of childcare during the first year of a child’s life.
The government will bring forward legislation to enable this change, with the aim of implementing the policy by 2018. The government will consult on the details in the first half of next year.
The government recognises that the crucial role that working grandparents play in providing childcare and supporting working families. Evidence suggests that nearly 2 million grandparents have given up work, reduced their hours or have taken time off work to help families who cannot afford childcare costs. Grandparents may be contributing as much as £8bn each year to bridge the gap as work pressures increase.
Evidence shows more than half of mothers rely on grandparents for childcare when they first go back to work after maternity leave, and over 60 per cent of working grandparents with grandchildren aged under 16 provide some childcare. In total, some seven million grandparents are involved in childcare.
The new system will also provide flexibility in working arrangements for grandparents without fear of losing their job.
Of working grandparents who have never taken time off work to care for grandchildren under 16, around 1 in 10 have not been able to do so because they have either been refused time off by their employer, or simply felt that they weren’t able to ask. As a result, parents will be able to return to work sooner if they wish to.
The extension of shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents will ensure that hardworking families structure their lives in the way that works best for them.